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Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

By Teo Sagisman…..
This week the Turks are celebrating an age-old tradition, known as Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in Arabic. Called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish, this tradition is both religiously and culturally important to many Turks. Kurban Bayrami is a long extended holiday, equivalent to the importance and length of the Christmas celebrations in the western world. The 4,0000 year-old story behind the Feast of the Sacrifice is common to all Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but in the modern world, only adherents to Islam commemorate it in a literal way. As the story is told in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and the Quran, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son.

A Humanist Resolution to Overcome the Faith Gap

A Humanist Resolution to Overcome the Faith Gap

By Chris Stedman, Huffington Post….
The week following Christmas has passed and we find ourselves in a new year. With a new year comes new work. One of the projects I am most excited about is “Challenge the Gap,” a new initiative of the Foundation Beyond Belief, an atheist and Humanist charitable foundation, which aims to find common ground between the religious and the secular. It is, to my knowledge, the first time that an explicitly atheist and Humanist foundation is funding interfaith cooperation.

A Muslim at Christmas with love and Jesus on his mind

A Muslim at Christmas with love and Jesus on his mind

By Hesham A. Hassaballa….
Yet, that does not mean that the day has absolutely no significance for me as a Muslim. As I walk the halls of one of the hospitals at which I work, I see several Nativity scenes on display, and it gets me to thinking about Jesus Christ (pbuh). It reminds me of him and what a powerful and wonderful Prophet and Messenger he was. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, it does not mean I don’t have Jesus in my life.

A Pagan Christmas in a Yuletide Way

A Pagan Christmas in a Yuletide Way

By Peg Aloi, Being Blog….
I’ve attended Yule rites with bonfires reflecting their golden flames on the snow. I’ve rolled in the snow after climbing out of an outdoor hot dub, beneath a solstice full moon. One year I was house-sitting in a remote village in England, and spent the day alone, walking to a Neolithic site in the fading daylight, and cooking banger stew for my holiday meal. In other years I’ve performed with Pagan musical groups, staging the Abbots Bromley horn dance, singing songs in Gaelic and Welsh, and chanting about fire, trees, and snow. There is a rich tradition of music full of rustic nature imagery that lends a wonderful spirit to the traditional canon of Christmas carols and popular songs.

A Tough Season for Believers

A Tough Season for Believers

By Ross Douthat, New York Times…..
But for Christians, this sunny story has a dark side. Religious faith looks more socially beneficial to America than ever, but the institutional Christianity that’s historically generated most of those benefits seems to be gradually losing its appeal. In the last 50 years, the Christian churches have undergone what “American Grace” describes as a shock and two aftershocks. The initial earthquake was the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which undercut religious authority as it did all authority, while dealing a particular blow to Christian sexual ethics. The first aftershock was the rise of religious conservatism, and particularly evangelical faith, as a backlash against the cultural revolution’s excesses.

Religion, Lately: Christmas, Hanukkah,Yule, and Kwanzaa

Religion, Lately: Christmas, Hanukkah,Yule, and Kwanzaa

By Kenny Smith and Heather Abraham….
In Loudon, Virginia, nativity wars seem to have given way to Star Wars. In Loudon’s public space, where “traditional Christian symbols have been joined by displays of symbols from the Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths,” this holiday season ten different displays are on view: “a Christmas tree, a manger scene, five atheist displays, and a mannequin arrangement featuring ‘the chosen one,’ Luke Skywalker, from the Star Wars films.

S.A.D. Lights and Advent Candles: What is the purpose of religion?

S.A.D. Lights and Advent Candles: What is the purpose of religion?

By Kari Aanestad, State of Formation….
One might say that religion has been prescribing this treatment plan for centuries. The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights), the Hindu celebration of Diwali (the Festival of Lights), the Scandinavian, Australian, and New Zealand celebration of Yuletide, the Christian celebration of Advent and Christmas, and many more are examples of ways in which religion has sought to not only name the power of evil and darkness in life but also celebrate that light still shines. In other words, there seems to be a fascinating diversity of tradition around the celebration of light in the midst of seemingly impenetrable darkness.

Christmas ad: Baby Jesus ‘sonogram’ — halo and all

Christmas ad: Baby Jesus ‘sonogram’ — halo and all

USA Today, Faith and Reason
Want to refocus attention on Christ this Christmas? A British group is taking the novel approach of promoting nativity scene like no other — turning a sonogram-like image into a icon-like poster by portraying Jesus as a fetus with a halo, in Mary’s womb.

Well, at least it’s a baby image… whose