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Do not be afraid: Pope Francis’s Christmas midnight mass message

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On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.

As Christmas dawns
A Christmas editorial that has appeared annually since 1988.
Chicago Tribune

‘Muslims must focus on education to benefit from India’s progress’
The 125th anniversary of well known academic institution Anjuman Hami-e-Islam was celebrated at its sprawling campus in Sadar on Monday morning. The function’s chief guest MSA Siddiqui, who is also the chairman of National Commission of Minority Educational Institutions said, “Muslims need to get out of the minority mindset and focus on educating themselves to reap the benefits of India’s march towards development.”
The Times of India

Sardar Patel was not anti-Muslim, says LK Advani
In his blog, Advani expressed surprise at a “perverse” article in a national magazine which quoted records to brand Patel as a man “rabidly communal in outlook” and Jawaharlal Nehru as a symbol “of secular nationalism”.
IBN Live

VHP, heads of Maths warn govt against Anti-Superstition Bill
Addressing the meeting, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Gopalji said, “Dharma is the soul of Bharath, Hindus see god in each particle in cosmology, and therefore tree, cow, nature, and stone are worshipped. This is a basic belief of man. We taught about the importance of nature to the world, and today various thinkers agree that the Indian notion of protecting the nature is the best way to achieve world peace.
Daiji World

The year’s 10 most intriguing religion books
Jesus, Paul, food, charity, and prayer were just some of the areas examined in this year’s crop of books under the broad heading of religion. Some of these titles rank at the top of the year’s best books, period. Others barely registered in the mainstream press, but are lavishly praised in their own fields. Here’s Religion News Service’s list of the year’s most interesting religion books, numbered but not ranked.
The Washington Post

Can you be too religious?
Actually, I seriously dislike the words religion and religious. First, there is no such thing as generic religiosity. There are Christians and Jews and Muslims and Hindus. No one practises religion, as such. And second, precisely because the word “religion” describes the common outward format through which these very different belief systems express themselves, it cannot describe each in its specificity. This is particularly tricky when it comes to Christianity, because at its heart is a figure who was thoroughly suspicious and condemnatory of religion. “Jesus came to abolish religion,” says the Washington-based poet and evangelist Jefferson Bethke. His YouTube poem Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus received 16 million views within two weeks of it being released. He’s right: the New Testament must be one of the most thoroughly anti-religious books ever written. It makes Richard Dawkins look very tame fare indeed.
The Guardian

Christians feel pressure to keep silent about their faith, Lord Carey warns
Christians in Britain feel under pressure to keep silent about their faith in public, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned, as he accuses the government of being “full of denial” and failing to speak up over human rights abuses across the globe.
The Telegraph

Religion is always in a state of flux
For the many millions of Christians around the world, we remember that while Christmas was previously a pagan festival, the nativity story in the words of the gospel writer Luke was about the miraculous birth of the special child ‘Christ Jesus’ the Messiah. The gospel writer Luke (2:52) writes of Jesus as a man ‘who grew in wisdom, stature and in favour with God and with men’.
The Sentinel

Sociology of religion: A Canadian perspective
Dawson and Thiessen write about the difficulties of defining religion, but they nonetheless make the common distinction between functional and substantive definitions. Despite their earlier tendency towards functionalist definitions, the authors claim to prefer a more substantive approach. Before getting to their definition, they discuss the postmodern critique of religion as a category, e.g., religion, as a concept, is relatively new and coloured by European history.

Religion: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I’ve been in the study of religion for about 30 years and throughout all that time it has been relatively easy to avoid answering the inevitable personal questions that come up when people hear I work in a department of religion: Do you believe in God? Is American culture morally corrupt without religion? Isn’t religion bad for society?
Huffington Post

Atheist maintains there’s lots to be thankful for in the secular world
Almost every year around this time, I am accosted by at least one or two religious friends, acquaintances or coworkers (but not usually family — they tend to pointedly avoid the subject while in my presence), who seem to think that, as an atheist, I have nothing for which to be thankful. As a result, every year, I am consistently dumbfounded by their utter lack of awareness, intentionally or not, of all the secular reasons for which I (and they) should be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of our lives.

Whither political Islam?
The downfall of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has put political Islam at a crossroads. Not only has it shown that ideology per se is not a guarantor of political success, but also that Islamists need to rethink their strategy and tactics in order to deal with the new environment following the Arab Spring. However, the debate over the end of political Islam in the Middle East is not only premature but also irrelevant and certainly misleading. Instead it would be more effective to discuss the ideological and political changes that might occur within Islamist movements during crisis time.

PTI to enforce true Islam, claims Imran
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan claimed on Monday that his party would enforce the true Islamic system in the country like the Muslim state founded in Madina by the Holy Prophet (SAW).
The News International

Carlos Santana – Music heals and charisma screams
In a recent PBS NewsHour interview, Santana was asked, “You talk about spirituality. Is it your sense that music is a kind of spirituality?” Santana responded, “It’s not kind. It’s 150 percent. Music was given to tame the beast, as they say in the Bible. You know, … fear and anger.”
Houston Chronicle



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