The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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The Meaning of Christmas Candles

Significance Of The Christmas Candles

Here’s another informative post by Sanchita Chowdhury on the Boldsky blog.  If you’ve ever wondered why we light candles during the Christmas Holiday’s, Chowdhury’s piece explains their significance:

Lighting candles on Christmas is an old tradition. The tradition of lighting candles on Christmas comes from the Jewish ‘Feast of Lights’ or Hanukkah. They mark the birth of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World. Christmas candles are also symbolic of the Light from Heaven which provides us with warmth during the cold winter nights. When it comes to Christmas, the candle light represents Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is also known as the Light of the World who takes us from the path of darkness and leads us to true light.

The light of the candle signifies the path of illumination and realising the true meaning of human life. It represents spirituality, devotion and faith.

In the medieval times, it was customary to represent Christ with a burning candle. This custom is still followed in most churches and Christian houses. A large candle representing the Lord is placed at the centre of the laurel wreath and is kept burning through the Holy Night. The custom of lighting candles is still followed in its original form in most countries.
In Ireland: The mother or father of the household lights a large candle which is decorated with the holly. Then the family members sit together and pray for all their near and dear ones, both living and departed.
In Slavic Nations: A large Christmas candle is put up on a table after it has been blessed by the priest in the church. Interestingly, the Ukrainians do not use candle stands. Rather they stick the candle in a bread loaf.
In South America: In many parts of South America the candle is placed in a paper lantern with Christmas symbols and pictures of the Native culture for decoration.
In England & France: Three candles are molded together at the base which signifies the Holy Trinity.
In Germany: The Christmas candle used to be placed on top of a wooden pole decorated with the evergreens during the seventeenth and the eighteenth century.
Lighting the candle on Christmas has a one true meaning, no matter how it is lighted, it symbolises one’s faith in God and the fact that human life is not stable. It is sure to melt away with time like the candle.

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Sunday Prayer

A Necessary Autumn Inside Each

You and I have spoken all these words, but as for the way
we have to go, words

are no preparation.  There is no getting ready, other than
grace.  My faults

have stayed hidden.  One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop

of knowing in my soul.  Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it.

Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.  Our leaves
fall and are blown out

over the water.  A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks
about what’s gone.  Then

your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence, the
scent of hyacinth and rose

and cypress.  Joseph is back!  And if you don’t feel in
yourself the freshness of

Joseph, be Jacob!  Weep and then smile.  Don’t pretend to know
something you haven’t experienced.

There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged

rock.  Be ground.  Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up
where you are.  You’ve been

stony for too many years.  Try something different.  Surrender.

— RUMI —

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Sunday Prayer


Because the spirit, too, knows loneliness
disasters happen in the universe
and someone like myself, smallest of men,
finds grace, a nimbus on the wall at noon.

After the hurricane, I drove back home
from hiding out safely inside a church.
I saw downed oaks squashed across roof on roof
or telephone wires; coming down my street

I saw abandoned dogs joined in a pack
scrounging the garbage cans, I saw my house.
Nothing looked different but some scattered leaves
across the front walk: purple, blue and gold.

I knew I never had seen leaves before.
I picked up one the color of the sky.
I held it while I opened the front door.
But I was blinded. I had second sight.

Inside, no lights, no water but just sun.
Everything just as God imagined it
for me to understand my human need
of the material: nothing, everything

was essential where I was staring now.
Only one thing was clear: someone was in the room,
someone larger than rooms and hurricanes,
someone who shone brighter than any sun.

There was no word fort this except the ones
familiar to us all: deliverance.
What I was standing in I would call light
but it was brighter. I had my third sight.

Five years later, I still have changing sight,

— Peter Cooley —


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Mary Magdalene in the Gnostic Gospels

Many Christians don’t know that it took 500 years to compile the New Testament.  Early Christianity was fraught with conflicts and controversies.  Many of the gospels written as early as 50 years after the death of Jesus were known to church leaders, but never made it into the new Canon. Until the discovery of the Nag Hamadi codices, our knowledge of Gnostics and Gnosticism was gleaned from the writings of their detractors – the early church bishops. Now that the actual Gnostic gospels have come to light, we understand there were many Christian sects in the years following Jesus’ death and many interpretations of his teachings.

Of particular interest to me is the role of women in these communities.  Far from being banned from any meaningful leadership positions in the church, women had equal footing with men among the Gnostics.  In fact, many of these forbidden gospels give Mary Magdalene (who was wrongfully depicted as a prostitute by Pope Gregory in the sixth century) an exalted status as the favorite of Jesus.


Fox’s “Zealot” Interview Creates Comedy Gold And Sends the Book to No. 1

The completely unselfaware and unnecessarily hostile interview Fox’s Lauren Green conducted with Reza Aslan was pure unintended hilarity. Green repeatedly asked why a Muslim would write about Jesus. To which Aslan replied, “”Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.” Wonkette, one of my favorite satirical blogs, took the story and ran with it. Here’s the interview:

Here’s Wonkette’s take on the controversy and the resulting popularity of the book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth



You're a pony, and yet you've written about griffons. How do you explain that?Yesterday, we were among the nine million blogs that couldn’t believe that insanely hostile interview on Fox in which Fox’s Lauren Green kept badgering author Reza Aslan to explain his audacious act of being both a Muslim and a person who wrote a book about Jebus. Well, here’s some nice news: now that the video has gone viral, sales of the book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, have gone through the roof. The New York Times reports that Aslan’s publisher, Random House, says that sales have increased 35% in the two days following the video hitting the webospheres. We will just go out on a limb and guess that very few of those purchases came from Fox News viewers; the literate ones seem mostly to have been spamming the book’s reviews on Amazon.

The Times piece notes that while the book had already been selling well, the explosion of derp pushed it from “well-received” to “controversy-driven bestseller”:

On Friday, “Zealot” was in the No. 8 spot on, the nation’s biggest seller of books; by Sunday, it had hit No. 1.

Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week.

All this suggests that we have finally found a useful purpose for Fox News: If idiots on Fox condemn something, this might become a formal barometer of the work’s value. The downside is that authors on book tours will now be pushed by their publishers to go on Fox in the hope that they too will generate a publicity-generating stream of abuse.

Also, in answer to the question everyone had when they saw the video, no, Lauren Green did not feel compelled to grill a Southern Baptist professor about why he felt the need to write a book about Islam. It just never came up, for some reason. And Media Matters has a nice compilation of the many times that Green, who identifies herself as an evangelical Christian, has done some pretty contentious stories on Islam, a religion that she does not even believe in.

And finally, we wouldn’t dream of closing without sharing the Absolute Best Tweet we’ve seen on the whole sorry mess:
Not a fish, merely an educated mammal with an opinion on fishes.

You can find more Wonkette news here.

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Yes, Yes, Yes!

Reposted from The Dish (without the additional commentary):

Bert Thelen, a Jesuit priest who is almost 80 years old, recently renounced his vows, leaving the order and ordained ministry. In a remarkable letter to colleagues and friends, he explained his decision, citing a desire “to be my best self as a disciple of Jesus, to proclaim boldly His Gospel of Love, and to widen the horizons of my heart to embrace the One New World we are called to serve in partnership with each other and our Triune God”:
It is the Risen Christ Who beckons me now toward a more universal connection with the Cosmos, the infinitely large eco-system we are all part of, the abundance and vastness of what Jesus called “the Reign of God.”
Why does this “YES” to embrace the call of our cosmic inter-connectedness mean saying “NO” to ordained ministry? My answer is simple but true. All mystical traditions, as well as modern science, teach us that we humans cannot be fully ourselves without being in communion with all that exists. Lasting justice for Earth and all her inhabitants is only possible within this sacred communion of being. We need conversion – conversion from the prevailing consciousness that views reality in terms of separateness, dualism, and even hierarchy, to a new awareness of ourselves as inter-dependent partners , sharing in one Earth-Human community. In plainer words, we need to end the world view that structures reality into higher and lower, superior and inferior, dominant and subordinate, which puts God over Humanity, humans over the rest of the world, men over women, the ordained over the laity. As Jesus commanded so succinctly, “Don’t Lord it over anyone … serve one another in love.”
As an institution, the Church is not even close to that idea; its leadership works through domination, control, and punishment. So, following my call to serve this One World requires me to stop benefiting from the privilege, security, and prestige ordination has given me. I am doing this primarily out of the necessity and consequence of my new call, but, secondarily, as a protest against the social injustices and sinful exclusions perpetrated by a patriarchal church that refuses to consider ordination for women and marriage for same- sex couples. I have become convinced that the Catholic Church will never give up its clerical privilege until and unless we priests (and bishops) willingly step down from our pedestals.