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...]

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...]

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...]

Hallelujah, saith the masses

As millions of YouTube viewers know, the "Hallelujah Chorus" is even hotter than usual this year.The wave started with a flash-mob performance by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and hundreds of local choristers. Dressed as shoppers, they sang the best-known anthem from George F. Handel's "Messiah" oratorio at noon in the downtown Philadelphia Macy's, which was already decked out for the holidays on Oct. 30th.Then came the Nov. 13th performance that sent this viral-video trend into … [Read more...]

Celebrate Christmas — gasp! — in Christmas?

Father Dino Bottino didn't expect to spark a firestorm several years ago when he delivered his sermon about the true meaning of Christmas.Still, it didn't take long for outraged parents to leak one crucial statement -- that Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, isn't real -- to the Italian press. Headline writers around the world immediately felt a great disturbance in the Holiday Force, as if millions of tiny nonsectarian voices had cried out in terror.Clearly, this priest had … [Read more...]

Xmas is fake, so deal with it

As the Christmas pageant dress rehearsal rolled to its bold finale, reporter Hank Stuever found his mind drifting away to an unlikely artistic destination -- a masterpiece from the Cubist movement.The cast of "It's a Wonderful Life 2" reassembled on stage at Celebration Covenant Church, a suburban megachurch north of Dallas. There were characters from a Victorian tableau, along with Frosty the Snowman, young ballerinas and children dressed as penguins. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were … [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...]


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