Cover Story: Enjoy these ‘Merry Christmas!’ stories

MAY THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

The majority of Americans join more than 2 billion people worldwide in celebrating Christmas. This week, to mark this Season of Peace, we’re digging deep into ReadTheSpirit to share these great holiday stories …

Las Posadas procession photo via Wikiimedia Commons (1)CHRISTMAS IS COMING—Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the Western Advent season—including the 9-day custom called La PosadasShe also writes about the Eastern Orthodox Nativity Fast. And, for many, she reminds us that this is the Yultide season, complete with crackling fires and seasonal treats. Finally, here is Stephanie’s main story about Christmas, including a little Christmas history (the holiday wasn’t always so popular) and the ongoing divisions between East and West on the date.

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th Sainsburys advertisement on centennial of the WWI Christmas TruceTHE CHRISTMAS TRUCE—101 years ago, soldiers briefly paused the savage violence across World War I trenches in France. This Interfaith Peacemakers column tells the story of Christmas 1914—and includes two videos you’ll want to watch, especially John McCutcheon singing Christmas in the Trenches. From 2014, here is Stephanie’s story about the centennial of the Truce, which also includes a video.

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ARE YOU DOWNSIZING CHRISTMAS? Are you among the millions trimming back on this year’s Christmas bash? If so, then you may be following Pope Francis’s advice and you’re likely to enjoy this “Downsizing Christmas” column from 2013 by Cindy LaFerle.

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Christmas_Carol_George_C_Scott (1)THE 5 BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES (AND ALL THE REST)—Published in 2012, this column about the “family tree” of so-called “Christmas movies” continues to spark debate among our readers. Check out how ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm makes the case that there, really, are only 5 Christmas movies.

 

 

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christmas star (1)A STAR TO GUIDE US


POINTING US ONWARD—
Stretching all the way back to our first Christmas season in 2007, we bring back A Star to Guide Us, a wonderful real-life story from Pennsylvania writer, the Rev. John Emmert.

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LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP
& 30-DAY CAKE

30-day-cake-with desiree cooper columnFROM DESIREE COOPER—You may know Desiree Cooper from her newspaper stories, her online columns or that earlier era on National Public Radio. This week, she shares with our readers the inspiring Christmas story of a life-long friendship—and a special 30-day cake. And, yes, she includes a version of the recipe you can try at home.

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of their guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Leading figures in journalism are praising this move. Please join them in spreading the news! Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide was just recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.

dr_larycia_hawkins_-_Google_SearchWHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOW—Tension between some conservative Christians and Muslims is showing up in parts of the U.S., including Wheaton College’s decision to discipline a tenured professor for affirming on her social media that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. That’s a point made by Pope Francis, as well, but Wheaton’s doctrine insists that the Christian God differs from the Muslim God—and Professor Larycia Hawkins is paying the price. Here is The Atlantic’s coverage of Wheaton’s actions; and New York Times coverage. But, not all evangelicals agree with Wheaton’s move: Here’s the Third Way Newsletter’s evangelical rebuke of Wheaton’s decision.

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YES, THERE IS HOPE …

Brenda Rosenberg reads coverage in the Jewish News with two people included in the book Abbeygail Omaits and Rashid Baydoun (1)HARNESSING THE POWER OF TENSION—One emerging strategy to bridge even the deepest cross-cultural chasms is described in a new book, Harnessing the Power of TensionUnder a headline, “Leadership approach is a new way to solve conflicts,” The Jewish News Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl reported in the magazine’s December 17 issue about this new book and new programs created by Brenda Rosenberg and colleague Samia Bahsoun. Their method “uses tension as an opportunity to inform those in conflict of the deepest fears, pains and transgenerational wounds that separate people and plague the world,” Jackie reported. You can learn more about Rosenberg’s upcoming programs at her website. Columnist Suzy Farbman also reported on Brenda’s efforts.

 

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‘HOPE FOR THE CITY’ …

Jack Kresnak Hope for the City in the Free Press 2015A STAND-UP-AND-CHEER BOOKThe Detroit Free Press was so impressed with Jack Kresnak’s brand-new biography of Father William Cunningham, called Hope for the City, that then newspaper devoted a 3-page spread to excerpting the book. That’s high praise indeed! Learn more about the book and how to order a copy for yourself—and someone you love.

 

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DANCING HER WAY TO HEALTH

Dancing With Survivors 2015 Carol Ziecik Laura Segal YouTubeGOD-SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman tells the true story of Carol Ziecik (at right in this photo), who survived cancer and discovered that ballroom dancing was part of her pathway to recovery. This column also includes a video, featuring Carol, her sister and their dancing partners.

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ALL THE HOLIDAYS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries..

th Kwanzaa-party-celebration‘JOYOUS KWANZAA’! Did you know that’s a recommended way to greet friends and neighbors who are celebrating this nearly half-century-old holiday season? Stephanie Fenton reports on Seven Principles families will emphasize during this period from December 26 through January 1.

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

Cover Edward McNulty Jesus Christ Movie Star (1)CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inpsiring as well! Religion scholar Ken Chitwood, the author of FaithGoesPop columns, contributed to this new book and says he’s “overwhelmingly excited.”

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HOLIDAY MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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