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Humbug to Dickens

Humbug to Dickens

Multiple divorces don’t doom everyone to Britneyhood. At Christmas time broken homes, too, can be merry.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – I wonder how many people feel cheated every Christmas because there is no fluffy snow outside, no cozy fireplace and no Tiny Tim. I must confess that I was down on my own family for years. If ‘A Christmas Carol’ had starred us, Tim and his siblings would have lived with Mrs. Cratchet and only visited Mr. Cratchit on weekends.

This is by no means a sob story. I am, in fact, about to brag about the Christmas I’m about to spend with my mother, husband, sister, stepsister, half-brother and his girlfriend, stepfather and stepfather’s first wife (stepsister’s mother). As my sister puts it, “all three of our parents are twice divorced.” Yet I challenge any nuclear family out there to have a more fun, more loving time than we will have.

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The Truth is in the Music

The Truth is in the Music

If the story of Christmas Eve feels like a myth, it is — a very truthful and divine one.

DAVID RICKEY — As I approach Christmas, I find myself asking the question normally reserved for Passover: Why is this night different from all other nights? What is it about the sacred Christmas story that so engages us?

I don’t believe any of the “events” described in the Christmas story. There are actually three stories that don’t agree but are brought together to make the Creche scene complete. The wise men, or Magi, come from Matthew. The Shepherds and sheep come from Luke. The stable is Luke, while Matthew has Jesus born in a house. John just gets philosophical, and Mark doesn’t even mention the birth at all.

But these are not historical stories, even if the authors believed they were. They are myths in the deepest sense, just as Joseph Campbell would have described them. My working definition of myth here is “a culturally shaped story that attempts to express awareness of a mystery.” The story isn’t true. The myth hints, successfully I believe, at Truth.

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Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Why Bill O’Reilly’s defense of Christmas is secretly un-Christian

BY DANNY KENNY — Fox News talk-show personality Bill O’Reilly thinks the Holidays just won’t be the same without The Tree, Santa, the gifts of appreciation, the mistletoe and holly, etc. These are the things he claims are threatened with extinction by the so-called ‘War on Christmas.’

But I guess he doesn’t realize that these traditions he’s apparently missing from his Irish Catholic childhood are thoroughly pagan in origin, some dating back 4,000 years. Which begs the question: So, Bill, what in the name of Jesus are Yule celebrating?

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The secret spiritual life of football

SPIRITUAL IQ QUIZ — Football. It’s more than just men running around a field getting sweaty. Its physicality makes it a test of nerve. Its complexity makes it a test of brains. Talk to many professional players and they’ll tell you it’s a test of the spirit, too.

Football is more than just a turkey-day tradition. Indeed, it’s also a spiritual exercise. After all, can there be a better example of how to give thanks than an end-zone Hail Mary dance?

Let’s find out how much you know about the secret spiritual lives of 49ers coach Mike Singletary, Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, “Minister of Defense” Reggie White and their NFL brethren.

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“Rule the hearts of thy servants and the President of the United States”

“Rule the hearts of thy servants and the President of the United States”

On this First Day of Advent, The Great Litany has a new ring under an Obama presidency

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants, the President of the United States, and all others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy, and walk in the ways of truth.

BY PAUL KAIHLA — That line in the six-page petition, or poem of loving kindness, called The Great Litany had a plaintive ring during the two Bush terms. But as churches across America chant it in procession at the beginning of Advent, marking the official start to a liturgical new year, it feels like a prayer that actually connects under an Obama presidency.

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Church for the 21st century: an oral and aural buffet we can all savor

Church for the 21st century: an oral and aural buffet we can all savor

An Episcopal priest comes to the realization that what we have labelled God is actually ”absolute intelligence” expressed via humans

BY DAVID RICKEY — Recently two events have changed my center of gravity. First, attending the Parliament for the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia in December of 2009 and then going to Haiti for the first time in June of 2010 and, at the same time, reading “The God Theory” by Bernard Haisch.

The Parliament gave me the opportunity to experience people from an amazing variety of spiritual perspectives, all talking and sharing in a way that opened my eyes further to the truth of the “interfaith” reality of TRUTH.

My trip to Haiti was my first encounter with incredible poverty as well as the resilience of the human spirit that I could see in the faces of the Haitian people. My reading “The God Theory” gave “solidity” to my own questions and emerging answers about this amazing mystery I call God.

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Soul’s Code Trivia Quiz – Halloween

Test your knowledge of Halloween traditions, history and trivia with our interactive Halloween Quiz!

As Soul’s Code celebrates all souls’ spiritual traditions, we offer you a chance to test your skills upon the occasion of Samhain, a.k.a. Halloween. (Spooky ghoulish Mayan-inspired electronic musical accompaniment.)

We believe a little temptation will do you no harm, so please reward yourself with handfuls of brain-candy below, or the treat of your choice for each correct answer you hit!

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An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

If happiness equals slimming-down the ego, the Imposition of Ashes on the first day of Lent is a powerful and public ritual of spiritual self-immolation

BY ANONYMOUS — I did confession (Ash Wednesday) and received the imposition of ashes. I’ve never felt so stripped naked in public as when I kneeled below the altar, and the priest made the sign of the cross on my forehead with ashes and said: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (or ‘stardust’, as I like to say…)

It was a shock to have the fact of my mortality announced so officially and openly. Truly humbling to realize this me is a fleeting illusion… It feels overwhelming when everyone else in the church is acknowledging their mortality, too, one by one.

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Ash Wednesday and the ghost in you

A ritual for Lent: make a daily list of what brings you joy, and what brings you closer to Spirit

No, we don’t mean our favorite song by the Psychedelic Furs, which was given a short second life a couple of years ago by the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore vehicle 50 First Dates.

But now that we brought it up, did you ever wonder where they got that phrase, ‘the ghost in you’? Check out Corinthians 6:19, one of the most famous passages in the Bible:

Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? . . . Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The passage points to the reason that people of a certain persuasion, starting tomorrow, give up pleasures of the flesh like coffee, sweets, alcohol or cigarettes. It’s a cleansing ritual that honors the temple of your body, and the Spirit which gave rise to it.

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Serenity in a cup of tea

Life-coach Jemitra Hairston ushers the ancient sacred ritual of sharing tea into the 21st century.

GUEST COLUMN: JEMITRA HAIRSTON — This is not an easy subject for me because I grew up in the South, home of Lipton “sun tea.” On Sundays, my mama would place a big container full of water on the well next to the clothes line in the back yard.

Dangling from tabs captured between the lid and lip of the jar were several bags of Lipton’s tea. After several hours of sitting in the North Carolina sun, the tea would be brewed to “perfection.”

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