Western Spirituality

Western Spirituality observes spiritual practices of the West. Find information on topics related to angels, sainthood or the Papacy.

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During the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, it's common to hear people wish each other "Shana Tova!" What does this phrase mean?

By Laurie L. Dove

Mabon is a fairly recent Pagan festival created to give thanks for the harvest. What does Mabon mean and how is it celebrated?

By Dave Roos

The recent attack on author Salman Rushdie led many to conclude that it was the result of the fatwa issued against him in 1989 by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. But what exactly is a fatwa?

By Myriam Renaud

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Ashura is a very important holiday to both Shiite and Sunni Muslims but the two groups attach very different meanings to the day.

By Dave Roos

She's the hero of one of the best-known Bible stories and also described as one of Jesus' ancestors, even though she was a Canaanite prostitute. Who was Rahab, really?

By Dave Roos

Some of the most paradoxical, profound words that Jesus spoke can be contained within these eight beatitudes. So what do they really mean?

By Dave Roos

Did Jesus speak Hebrew? Greek? Aramaic? Or some unknown tongue?

By Dave Roos

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When you hear the word "Samaritan," you might think of a hospital or charity or the Bible story about the Good Samaritan. But "real" Samaritans still exist in Israel, though their numbers are small.

By Dave Roos

John Calvin is best known for his doctrine of predestination, a controversial belief that continues to be popular in some churches. But what who was he, and what is predestination?

By Dave Roos

The Bible doesn't say exactly when Jesus was born but a close reading of the text gives us clues to a more correct date than Dec. 25. And why was that date chosen away? It has nothing to do with pagan religions.

By Dave Roos

President Biden's menorah lighting promises to prioritize ritual over reception, focusing on the lighting of the traditional Hanukkah candelabrum itself.

By Jonathan D. Sarna

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Papa Legba is a figure that stands as a mysterious link between the human and spirit worlds in the religion of Vodou, but who is he and what's his story?

By Tara Yarlagadda

Prayer apps are not new — they've been around since 2010. But how effective are they and can they replace the value of a religious community?

By Dorian Llywelyn

The biblical King Solomon is depicted as being very rich, very wise and very married to hundreds of women. But there is little evidence outside of the Bible that he existed. So what has been found so far?

By Dave Roos

The process requires a rigorous examination of the life and holiness of a candidate and involves several stages that can last years or even centuries.

By Dorian Llywelyn

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Shabbat is the holiday that is central to Jewish life, occurring every Friday at sunset to Saturday night. But what is it and how is it observed?

By Dave Roos

The Jewish High Holy Days commemorate concepts such as renewal, forgiveness, freedom and joy.

By Samuel L. Boyd

A scholar of religion explains why the Islamic New Year never falls on the same date and depends on the sighting of the moon.

By Igbal Akhtar

In both Hebrew and Greek, letters have numerical values, so many people, both in the past and today, saw hidden meanings in words as well as numbers found in the Bible. Here are just a few examples.

By Dave Roos

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He makes just one brief appearance in Genesis, yet he's been seen as a precursor of Jesus Christ. What was he really and how did he become associated with Jesus?

By Dave Roos

The New Testament is full of tense exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees, who often tried to trip him up in legalistic debates. But who were the Pharisees really and what did they believe?

By Dave Roos

Many Jewish people will affix a mezuzah, a decorative case, to the doorframe of their houses. What's the significance of this?

By Dave Roos

An obscure passage in Genesis mentions a group of superhumans who were the offspring of angels and women. Why was this included and what does that have to do with the Watchers?

By Dave Roos

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Cain and Abel are depicted in the Bible as the first pair of brothers and also the first case of murder on Earth. But what does the story really mean?

By Dave Roos

The black-haired "demoness" of folklore turns up in the legends of many ancient cultures but in the 20th century she has been recast as a feminist symbol. This is her story.

By Dave Roos