Tag Archives: Christmas

Countdown to Christmas: Spiritual Trivia


Can you guess the source of these lines of sacred text?

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world; to give to all nations unity, peace and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with presence those who are failing and infirm,
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,

You could be forgiven for thinking they’re from some kind of meditation on loving kindness in the Upanishads or the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

These lines of deep prayer are actually pulled from a very Christian prayer called The Great Litany that is performed in a communal chant. Just like Buddhists.

Acutely Buddhist in its appeal for universal compassion, The Great Litany was performed in procession by thousands of churches around the world to mark the First Sunday of Advent — the last Sunday of November in 2014 — the official beginning of the Christmas season for all of you chocolate fiends with Advent calendars, and Day One of a new church year.

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Image via Daily Pilot

Spiritual Surf: What’s new with the Old Testament?

Christmas politics and high-tech wealth creation

Professor Gingrich needs a history lesson about the Holy Land: “We are Palestinians” (New York Times)

300-member American journalist association: Ranks death of Bin Laden top religion story of 2011

2012 end-times and climate change? A green Christmas in  . . . Ottawa, Canada (Ottawa Citizen)

1-percenter Christmas collateral damage: Foreclosure kills California homeowner’s Peanuts holiday tradition (MSNBC)

If the Old Testament were a reality show: “The Real Housewives of the Book of Samuel”


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Santa Claus: International man of mystery

SPIRITUAL IQ QUIZ — He’s big. He’s hairy. He’s said to tear through the night sky accompanied by magical reindeer. Santa Claus makes a truly weird symbol of conspicuous consumption. Maybe that’s because he’s a figure whose spiritual roots sit deeper than today’s commercial culture.

Santa as we know him today symbolizes holiday cheer, Christian charity, and, yes, maybe more than just a little bit of pagan wildness. Little wonder this mischievous elf has been shunned by Christians, banned by secularists, and viewed with suspicion by purists of all sorts.

As he keeps sliding down the chimney into our culture, click on the radio buttons below to see how much you know about the global poster-boy for Christmas.

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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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Spiritual Surf: Old newspapers, Yemen, Dead Sea Scrolls, Epiphany

Old headlines, new knowledge

People around the world are reviewing the events of last year, particularly reported by the media.  How about reviewing  events reported over 100 years ago?  The British Library has made available, through subscription, millions of digitally scanned pages of British newspapers.  Nostalgic seekers can peruse articles on women’s football, political rallies, the abolition of slavery, and that newfangled utility called electricity.  Contemporary gurus (everybody) can now find lessons learned from many years past.

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What’s less fun than telling your kids at the mall that Santa Claus doesn’t exist?

Answer: the real Santa was a Byzantine monk. Yup, Old Saint Nick evolved from a bishop in present-day Turkey who treated opponents harshly but championed the cause of the powerless

BY KOHL GLAU — Santa Claus’ real story begins nearly 1,700 years ago as the powerful Roman empire was quickly becoming Christian. He lived in a moderate Mediterranean climate, opposed Church-branded heretics, financially supported the poor, built churches, and performed miracles.

In other words, the historical St. Nick is a far more spiritual figure than the folkoric Santa Claus who lives near the North Pole, receives letters from children, rides in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and deliversgifts on Christmas Eve. How did this commercial Santa evolve? Who was the original? Is he even someone on whose knee you’d want to seat your child?

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Soul’s Code Trivia Quiz – A Traditional Christmas

Pagan feasts, pious observances, drunken revelry, family get-togethers: The celebration of Christmas is thought to be an age-old tradition. But from which age does this tradition actually derive?

Christmas has evolved from a pagan celebration of the solstice; to a Christian honoring of the birth of Jesus; to a raucous, drunken Mardi Gras-like roving street party; to a secular, family holiday complete with a tree, the story of Santa and the exchange of gifts.

The celebration that we embrace today has changed drastically in the past several hundred years, and continues to evolve as we embrace new ideas and rituals from various cultures. How well do you know the history of the tradition we call Christmas?

Test your knowledge of the influences that have shaped our celebration in Soul’s Code’s Christmas Trivia Quiz below.

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A Scandinavian tradition on Christmas Eve is to illuminate the graves — and spirits — of departed loved ones with candles (left). We dedicate this series to those who have recently suffered the loss of a loved one — especially during the holiday season.

When others around you are in a partying mood, it’s the most glaring time to take a loss.

We share the following guidance for dealing with loss from first-hand experience, not from a distance. We felt called because of the striking synchronicity of so many recent deaths in the friends-and-family network of Soul’s Code itself.

The penultimate loss is a death in your immediate household — a being who lives with you, or whom you have lived with.

But these steps can also help those who are feeling down after a break-up, divorce, job loss — or even literally losing part of yourself due to surgery, illness or an accident.

We begin this series on a personal note . . .

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Comedian Sarah Silverman’s seasonal mission: De-Christianizing Christmas

Viral video from the Sarah Silverman Show on Comedy Central: “Give the Jew girl toys”

Gen-X comedienne Sarah Silverman leads the charge to divorce an increasingly commercial holiday even further from its roots with her, um, touching song, Give the Jew Girl Toys.

She sings a seminal line to Santa: “What does Jesus have to with you? You’ve got about as much to do with Jesus as Scooby-Doo.”

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The Golden Compass: A Christmas movie scandal

The Golden Compass: A Christmas movie scandal

Why New Line Cinema and Warner glossed over the dark side of Philip Pullman’s trilogy

BY PAUL KAIHLA —  The $180-million Hollywood blockbuster opened Hollywood’s 2007 Christmas season with the marketing slogan: “One small child can save the world.”

But the book it’s based on, the first in a fantasy trilogy called His Dark Materials, was released in 1996 with a slightly more sinister air.

The author, a stuffy 61-year-old Brit named Philip Pullman, is a celebrated anti-Christian crusader. The heroine in His Dark Materials, for example, is not on a mission from God but allied with forces out to kill God.

As the Atlantic Monthly lays out in an exhaustive exposé in its December issue, the Time Warner studio that’s releasing this film, New Line Cinema, scrubbed all of the anti-religious references from the script  — and sanitized it for all of the bible-thumpers in America.

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