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?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Purim?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 22, 2013
- I always think of the Bible as sort of dry reading — difficult to understand, weighted down by archaic language and vague descriptions, full of stories that just kind of go on and on. But, of course, that’s not always true. And it’s especially not true in the Book of Esther. Reading more like a Shakespearean play, the 10-chapter Book of Esther tells one hell of an intriguing story. It’s a story of honor, greed, deception, justice, irony, death and triumph. There is a clear beginning, a clear ending and even a climax and denouement. And, [...] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Purim?’.
Inject Some Religious Literacy into Your Valentine’s Day
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 14, 2013
- For the most part, I’m fine with being a nonbeliever. Like Bill Mahr says, “it requires so little of your time.” But every once in a while, I’m struck by how limiting my worldview can be. Take, for instance, the fact that I’ll never be a Whirling Dervish. That’s a real bummer. I’d love to be able to spin like that. And even worse? The chances are almost zero that I’ll ever be sainted. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wendy! Don’t be so negative! You are a fantastic person, and you help so many others [...] Read more – ‘Inject Some Religious Literacy into Your Valentine’s Day’.
10 Simple Ways to Mark Darwin’s Birthday
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 11, 2013
- Evolution, or the process by which living organisms change over time, was not discovered by Charles Darwin. But he certainly gave the theory its street cred. By introducing natural selection — the idea that organisms best suited to survive in their particular circumstances have a greater chance of passing their traits on to the next generation — Darwin gave us a plausible mechanism by which evolution could take place. And that made all the difference. Darwin’s 1859 book On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was the most groundbreaking biological theory the world had ever seen. And it remains [...] Read more – ‘10 Simple Ways to Mark Darwin’s Birthday’.
Quick! What the Hell is Epiphany?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 7, 2013
- OK, y’all, I have to apologize. First, I’ve been traveling without my laptop for the last week and haven’t been able to update. Second, I’ve been really busy finishing up my book (!!) which has pushed the blog to the back burner lately. Case in point: My somewhat ill-thought-out previous blog post. Hopefully most of you got the gist of what I was trying to say, but if you didn’t, you can be sure you weren’t alone. That said, today is a new day, a new week and a new year! And there’s been a new [...] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Epiphany?’.
Quick! What the Hell is Diwali?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 12, 2012
- 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?’.