Nov
24
2010
0

What is Christmas vs Xmas?

chi-rhoWell folks, it is the Christmas Season again and the annual argument about the spelling of the holiday, Christmas vs Xmas is well underway. I actually support the more widespread use of Xmas over Christmas as it is more traditional and has the weight of history behind it. The annual argument often goes along the [&hel[more...]

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Nov
07
2010
1

What is the Great Thurible?

great thuribleWhat is the Great Thurible? A – A long lost uncle by marriage that just left you wealthy. B – A Norse godling. C – A new super-hero with the ability to throw lighting bolts. D – None of the above. The answer is D.  I’m sure most of you knew from the beginning that [&hel[more...]

Mar
15
2010
4

What are the most common religions in the world?

University of Sussex chapel.Christianity is by far the largest family of religions in the world, according to Adherents.com and various other sources. With about 2.1 billion (that is, 2,100 million) people belonging to some branch of Christianity, Christians make up about a third of the world's population. Christianity is also the most widespread of the major religious groups, [&hel[more...]

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Nov
27
2009
2

How much of “The Blind Side” movie is true?

Football DropsThe Blind Side, the 2009 film featuring Sandra Bullock in a dramatic role, is promoted as a true story — and, indeed, it stays closer to history than many “true” films. It tells the story of Michael Oher, a societal nobody who seemed destined to be a another grim statistic of the slums before he [&hel[more...]

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Nov
20
2009
5

When was Jesus born?

Detail from a stained glass window in Fabrica Art Gallery, Brighton, East Sussex. Photo by Dominic. CC-BY.Although much of the world celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25 as the supposed birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, and our calendar is based on the assumption that year-counting began the year of his birth, the chances that he was born on Dec. 25, 1 BC (there was no year 0), are extremely remote. Christmas is [&hel[more...]

Nov
05
2009
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Will life as we know it end in 2012?

clocksDire predictions of worldwide calamity in 2012 may be a good way of selling books and movie tickets — but the chances anything remotely like the dire predictions will happen is about the same as that they happened in 1982, 1988 or 2000, other recent dates for which the end of the world or something [&hel[more...]

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Oct
25
2009
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What religious sites are there to see in Independence, Missouri?

The Community of Christ temple rises about 300 feet above Independence, Missouri. This photo is from inside its sanctuary, looking upward. The inset is of its exterior. Mvguy photos. CC-BY.For those interested in American frontier religious history, the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Independence City is well worth a visit. One of the first things visitors to Independence are likely to notice is the 90-meter-tall (300 feet) Community of Christ temple, as it is by far the tallest structure in the city. The temple [&hel[more...]

May
15
2009
2

Is it true there was once a female pope?

Basilica of St. John LateranIt’s an enticing tale: A precocious girl, Joan, growing up in the 9th century in Mainz, Germany, disguises herself as a boy so she can learn Greek and Latin at a monastery. She, still dressing as a male, eventually makes her way to Rome, where under the name of John she becomes the secretary to [&hel[more...]

Apr
16
2009
2

What was the Burned-Over District of New York state?

This old home is at Lily Dale, a Spiritualist community in western New York. ~Sage~ photo. CC-BY.Historians interested in innovative social organizations and offbeat religious movements would have difficulty finding places more interesting than western and central New York state in the first half of the 19th century. The great Protestant evangelist Charles Finney called it the “burnt district” because it was so hard to find converts there after years of [&hel[more...]

Apr
07
2009
0

What does the “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday mean?

A man's feet are washed in observance of Maundy Thursday in New York.Many Christians throughout the world observe Maundy Thursday (sometimes called Holy Thursday) three days before Easter, which falls on a Sunday. The observance typically includes Holy Communion, sometimes called the Eucharist, in which worshipers partake of bread and wine (or, in some churches, grape juice) in commemoration of the Last Supper, the final meal that [&hel[more...]

Mar
13
2009
0

What is a megachurch?

statue of jesusAlthough churches with a large membership and attendance are nothing new, the term “megachurch” has come to refer to something more than numbers, usually referring to a type of evangelical Protestant church with not only a large membership but also with a worship style and outreach designed to appeal people who might not find traditional [&hel[more...]

Mar
12
2009
0

What is the Trinity?

Worshipers at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. David Paul Ohmer photo. CC-BY.The Trinity refers to a concept, unique to Christianity, that God is simultaneously one and three. The most common formulation is that one God exists in the form of three Persons, although various branches of Christianity disagree as to exactly what this entails (and there are some small factions in Christianity that don’t believe in [&hel[more...]

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Feb
09
2009
0

Who was Aimee Semple McPherson?

Aimee Semple McPherson and her Angelus TempleAimee Semple McPherson was one of the earliest prominent female pastors in the United States and the founder of a Christian denomination that today claims more than 5 million members in more than 50,000 churches throughout the world. She was also the subject of a scandal that failed to dampen the enthusiasm of her many [&hel[more...]

Jan
24
2009
9

Which is the best English translation of the Bible?

Photo of Bible by Dottorpeni. CC-BY.The Christian Bible has not only been translated to more languages than any other book, and it also has been translated to English more times than any other. Since very few people could understand the Bible in its original languages — Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic — portions of it have been translated to English ever [&hel[more...]

Jan
18
2009
2

What is a born-again Christian?

This Bible is for study.In one sense, being “born again” is something that nearly all Christians believe in. The phrase comes from the Gospel of John: Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who [&hel[more...]

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