John Lennon, ‘spiritual,’ not ‘religious’

Few images of John Lennon are as iconic as that of the ex-Beatle playing a white piano in a white room, gazing into the camera lens while singing "Imagine.""Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today," said Lennon, in the anthem that for many defined his life. "Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too."Critics of the rock martyr have quoted these words … [Read more...]

A Catholic Colbert report

For Catholics raised during the head-spinning days after Vatican II, few things inspire flashbacks to the era of flowers and folk Masses quicker than the bouncy hymn "The King of Glory."But what was a goofy nerd doing on Comedy Central, belting out this folk song while doing a bizarre blend of Broadway shtick and liturgical dance?"The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices! Open the gates before him, lift up your voices," sang Stephen Colbert a decade ago, in a video that is now a YouTube … [Read more...]

Synagogue for Jewish seekers

For centuries, Jews have watched their rabbis show reverence to God during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rites by doing a prostration at the front of the synagogue.This symbolic act takes place during the "Aleinu" prayer that reminds worshipers of their duty to "bend our knees, and bow down, and give thanks, before the Ruler, the Ruler of Rulers, the Holy One, Blessed is God."Rabbi Shira Stutman isn't sure how many people will accept her invitation to exit the pews and perform this … [Read more...]

Facing the unChristian reality

Times were hard for the single mother and her 4-year-old son, so she did what hurting people often do -- she joined a church seeking solace and support.But there was a problem, one that drove her right back out of the pews."Everyone told me what to do as a parent," she told pollster David Kinnaman, "but no one bothered to help."This blunt encounter wasn't one of the formal interviews that led Kinnaman and social activist Gabe Lyons to write their book, "unChristian: What a new generation … [Read more...]

God words vs. actions

When it comes to religion, modern Americans think religious beliefs are good, but they tend to worry about beliefs that affect other people. As a rule, religious words are safer than religious actions.Consider these numbers from a new Ellison Research study that shows surprising support -- on the left and right, among believers and skeptics -- for freedom of expression when it comes to words and symbols.An overwhelming 90 percent of adults agreed that faith groups should be allowed to rent … [Read more...]

Oprah and her American faith

Faithful members of Oprah Winfrey's TV flock know what's happening when guests start talking and their leader keeps saying "Amen," "Preach it" or even, "Sister, I understand the whole God connection!"The host wants the guest to start "testifying," a confessional process in which believers look for God's healing hand in life's hard lessons. Winfrey learned all about "testifying" as a girl back in the Faith United Mississippi Baptist Church, where jealous peers often called her "Miss Jesus."But … [Read more...]

Witches leaving broom closets

The witches ball included the midnight spinning of the "Wheel of the Year" and a chance to gaze into the "Fire of Transformation" before the faithful were guided into the "Underworld and our Ritual Space."The Samhain celebration last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also included deejay music, dancing, door prizes and fun for the children."No photos at rituals! Some of us are still closeted," said the online invitation from the MoonPath Chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. … [Read more...]

Matrix, the Apocalypse

Anyone looking for the "Matrix" movies at a video store knows to seek the digital mythologies shelved under "science fiction."That will have to do, since there isn't a space labeled "apocalyptic.""These movies are truly that ambitious," said the Rev. Chris Seay, co-author of "The Gospel Reloaded," about faith and "The Matrix" phenomenon. "This story reads more like the Book of Revelation more than it does your normal sci-fi thriller. Everything has this other layer of meaning. ... You have to … [Read more...]


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