Telling the Nativity story, with help of two foster boys

Night after night, Jesse and Kelly Cone led their children through some of the most familiar verses in all of Christianity. The goal was to use the quiet pre-Christmas season of Advent -- or Nativity Lent in their Eastern Orthodox parish in Santa Maria, Calif. -- to help their young sons grasp the meaning of Feast of the Nativity, which begins Dec. 25th and continues for 12 days. This isn't easy in a culture in which the powers that be roll out the Christmas bandwagon with the Halloween … [Read more...]

Columbine, Newtown and our culture of death

Blame it on the guns. No, blame the judges who banned Godtalk in schools, along with most lessons about right and wrong. No, our lousy national mental health care system caused this hellish bloodbath. No, the problem is the decay of American families, with workaholic parents chained to their desks while their children grow up in suburban cocoons with too much time on their hands. No, it's Hollywood's fault. How can children tell the difference between fantasy and reality when they've been … [Read more...]

Occupy Advent 2012 (Let’s ask Siri)

The first question was simple: "Siri, when is Christmas?" After the two-tone "BEED-EEP" chime, the voice of the Apple iPhone responded: "Christmas is on Tuesday, December 25, 2012. I hope I have the day off." Then matters got complicated: "When is Advent?" Siri searched her memory and said: "I didn't find any events about 'Ed Fant.' " Trying again: "When is the Advent season?" Siri cheerfully responded: "I am not aware of any events about 'advent season.' " After several more "BEED-EEP" … [Read more...]

When is Christmas, anyway?

For those who follow Christian traditions, Christmas begins when the darkness of Christmas Eve yields to bright midnight candles and the Mass of the Angels or the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christmas season then lasts 12 days, ending with Epiphany on Jan. 6. But things aren't that simple in modern America, the land of the free and the home of the malls. For millions of us, today's Christmas begins when "Feliz Navidad" beer ads start interrupting National … [Read more...]

Thumbs down for Obama faith, again

For those keeping score, let it be noted that the White House transcript from the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony says that President Barack Obama shouted "Merry Christmas" before adding "Happy holidays." In fact, Obama said "Christmas" eight times, twice as often as he mentioned "holidays." With his family at his side, the president also used an even more controversial word -- "Christian." "Each year we've come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia," he … [Read more...]

Baptists face Christmas, present and future

This is the time of year when many pastors sit in their offices muttering, "It happened again." The Rev. Rick Lance knows all about that. He has long been one of the true believers who battle the waves of "Happy Holidays" messages that define one of their faith's holiest seasons as the civic tsunami between Halloween and the inevitable wrapping-paper wreckage on Christmas morning. The problem is that whining doesn't work. Thus, Lance has grown tired of preaching his all-to-familiar annual … [Read more...]

Whatever happened to Advent?

The Rev. Timothy Paul Jones kept hearing one thing when -- four weeks before Christmas -- he brought a wreath and some purple and pink candles into his Southern Baptist church near Tulsa, Okla. And all the people said: "Advent? Don't Catholics do that?" This prickly response wasn't all that unusual, in light of the history of Christmas in America, said Jones, who now teaches leadership and church ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. "In the dominant American, … [Read more...]

Gently fighting for Christmas

Merry Christmas. No, honest, as in "the 12 days of" you know what between Dec. 25 and Jan. 5. If you doubt the accuracy of this statement, you can head over to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There you will find an interactive calendar that bravely documents the fact that, according to centuries of Christian tradition, the quiet season called Advent has just ended and the 12-day Christmas season has just begun. So cease stripping the decorations off your tree and … [Read more...]


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