Zombies are US, 2013 edition

It seems to happen whenever Steve Beard hangs out with friends -- especially folks who don't go to church -- talking about movies, television and whatever else is on their minds."It may take five minutes or it may take as long as 10, but sooner or later you're going to run into some kind zombie comment," said Beard, editor of Good News, a magazine for United Methodist evangelicals. He is also known for writing about faith and popular culture."Someone will say something like, 'When the … [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...]

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...]

The 30-something days of Xmas

There was a time when Christians did not celebrate a season that could be called the 30-something days of Christmas.In the year of our Lord 1939, the National Retail Dry Goods Association asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving to the next-to-last Thursday in November. This was strategic, since President Abraham Lincoln had proclaimed the last Thursday of the month as the official holiday. This meant that Thanksgiving was occasionally delayed until a fifth Thursday -- a cruel … [Read more...]

A Caroling We (Don’t) Go

Sometime just before Christmas, maestro Patrick Kavanaugh will gather a few friends to take part in a quietly subversive public rite.Slipping from house to house under cover of darkness, it is their intention to sing pieces of explicit, doctrinal religious music to family, neighbors and even strangers. They do this every year, even if it is snowing.Historians refer to this rare activity as "Christmas caroling.""People really do love it," said Kavanaugh, conductor for the Christian Performing … [Read more...]


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