Quick! What the Hell is Diwali?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 1, 2013
- Here’s the Diwali installment of Relax, It’s Just God’s beloved* Holiday Cheat Sheet, a series offering parents the quick and dirty run-down on major religious holidays, so that they might come across as intelligent beings to their kids. I’m sure you guys remember all this stuff from last year, but rest assured, Diwali is just as cool and fun as it has always been. Why? (C’mon, you don’t remember this?) Let me count the ways: 1. Fireworks 2. Bollywood music 3. Poker 4. Cool back story 5. Curry 6. Candles 7. Shopping * too strong? Holiday: Diwali Pronounced: Di-VAH-li […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Diwali?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Eid al-Adha?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 16, 2013
- There are certain religions that seem to wear their differences on their sleeves. Stand a Hasidic Jew next to a Sunni Muslim, for example, and I know immediately which is which. The headgear, the clothing. One is praying to God, the other invoking the name Allah. It’s kind of a no-brainer. But if you remove the clothing and the terminology, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are so darn similar. Allah is just the Arabic word for God, after all. Both the Qur’an and Torah have their roots in the Old Testament of the Bible. And, in all three religions, […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Eid al-Adha?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Yom Kippur?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 12, 2013
- I read a fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times this morning about local protests against the sacrificial slaughter of chickens being conducted this week in Jewish enclaves throughout Los Angeles — and, indeed, throughout the world. The ritual, as kaparot, kapparot or kaparos, is supposed to help “cleanse” people of their sins. It’s an orthodox Jewish thing. More progressive Jews are calling the ritual archaic and meaningless, and point to the treatment of the chickens before their deaths as further reason to stop the killings. Faith leaders have joined with animal-rights activists in the protest. So, here’s the […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Yom Kippur?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Rosh Hashanah?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 5, 2013
- This post originally appeared in September 2011. I’m one of those people who forgets stuff, especially stuff that’s the least bit complicated or unusual. I’m just challenged that way. To retain much of anything, I have to write it down — and, even then, there’s a shelf-life to my knowledge. I think that’s why I take such copious notes and then keep those notes for pretty much my entire life. I still have my diary from when I was 12. And even though nothing remotely complicated or unusual is written there, I can report to you […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Rosh Hashanah?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Ramadan?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 18, 2013
- As a kid growing up, whenever I heard about Cat Stevens, it was accompanied by such, I don’t know, disappointment. Cat Stevens used to be this wonderful singer, I was led to believe, until he “got weird” and left music. “Got weird,” as it turns out, meant he converted to Islam. I mention this because, for years, I pictured Stevens living in a cave somewhere — when actually he’s been raising a family in England. And the thing I’ve enjoyed most about researching Ramadan has been revisiting some of Stevens’ Islamic music. Stevens goes by Yusuf Islam now, […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Ramadan?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Vesak Day?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 24, 2013
- Man, I loves me some Buddhism. But then, again, who doesn’t? It’s all just so common sensical. By following even one tenant in the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path — or at least trying — you are almost guaranteed to improve your life. If the Buddha were alive today, I’m certain he would be a self-help guru. He’d make a damn good one, too. Although Buddhism is unlike any other religion (in that you don’t necessarily need to believe a deity at all), it’s still got some of the classic markers. And the fact that there are […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Vesak Day?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Pentecost?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 16, 2013
- From a historical perspective, Christianity didn’t start with Jesus’ birth, his death, or even his storied ascension to heaven. It started with Pentecost — the day the “Holy Spirit” entered a room holding Jesus’ apostles and entered each of them, an event which — as my minister uncle tells me — “makes the church the church.” Although Pentecost is chock full of religious significance, it is a holiday not widely celebrated. Sort of the opposite of Hanukkah, which is widely celebrated but not religiously important. My uncle says Pentecost is a bigger deal in liturgical churches, which […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Pentecost?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Easter?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 28, 2013
- My favorite anecdote told by Teach Not Preach blogger Jim Morrison appears in one of his first blogs. As you may recall, Morrison is a World Religion teacher at a Minnesota high school, and has been for decades. This particular anecdote involves a junior named Angel — Angel! — who approached Morrison after class one day in 1997 to ask one, discreet question. “Is Jesus dead?” Morrison said the girl had waited until they were alone and appeared to be blushing when she asked the question. Morrison played it off warmly, but, inside, he was […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Easter?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Holi?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 25, 2013
- I’ll be writing more about some of the slightly more obscure (to mainstream America) holidays in the coming months. Again, I do this because it’s a great and easy way to inject a bit of religious literacy into a child’s day-to-day. I always suggest using dinnertime or car rides to talk a little bit about each holiday, its roots and its rituals. And, if you’re game, you can “celebrate” the holidays yourselves with food, music and associated activities. Because, really, why not? First up: Holi, a Hindu holiday officially observed on Wednesday. Holiday: Holi AKA: “Festival […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Holi?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Passover?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 18, 2013
- Most Christians (current and cultural) are all too familar with the story of the Last Supper, in which Jesus hosts his 12 disciples for one last meal before he’s crucified. What’s rarely made clear, though, is that Jesus’ final meal was quite likely a Passover meal. After all, the Jewish holiday of Passover was the reason Jesus had made his entrance into Jerusalem in the first place that year. Even if it wasn’t technically a Seder (pronounced SAY-der and referring to that day’s big feast), I have a hard time believing Jesus wasn’t inspired by the […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Passover?’.