Cathleen Falsani

Cathleen Falsani is a veteran religion journalist and a longtime contributor to Sojourners. She is co-editor of the new book The End of Hunger: Renewed Hope for Feeding the World.

Posts By This Author

Georgia Couple Pleads with Bank of America via Music Video

by Cathleen Falsani 12-16-2011

Ken and Meredith Williams have been waiting 79 days for the Bank of America in Georgia to close on their home loan.

The bank has delayed the closing three times. And the Williams, who live outside Atlanta and want to buy a modest home in the city nearer to their work offices, have grown frustrated with the hold-up and ... clever couple that they are ... their ire turned to humor.

They started a blog chronicling their misadventures with the banking behemoth, created a Twitter account to bombard the bank with message through it's @BoA_Help account, and then made a music video — Ken plays the guitar and sings while Meredith, in one scene, dances in the background in the parking lot of the Bank of America branch in Lawrenceville, Ga.

It's hilarious and, they hope, effective.

See the video and read the Williams' tale of woe inside...

Hit the Hallelujah Button: What Happens in Vegas...

by Cathleen Falsani 12-15-2011
Bellagio Hotel's famous fountains. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/tb6Xps

Bellagio Hotel's famous fountains. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/tb6Xps

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today we bring you season's greetings and aquatic Hallelujahs from the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Sure they call it " Sin City," but at Christmastime, the famous fountains at the Bellagio Hotel wow tourists from around the world with their syncronized musical water shows, including sacred music. The fountain's Christmas show — seen multiple times each day — includes the Mormon Tablernacle Choir's rendition "Hallelujah Chorus"  along with Placido Domingo's "O Holy Night" and Johnny Mathis singing "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. See for yourself...on the blog.

Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: Sam Phillips

by Cathleen Falsani 12-15-2011
Sam Phillips. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/stvGiZ

Sam Phillips. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/stvGiZ

Sam Phillips is achingly honest.

Whether she's singing about relationships — with loved ones, the world or God — politics, art, the church, Aimee Semple McPherson or Christmastime, you can count on Sam to bring her singularly pure voice and the truth. She is true blue (and one of her favorite guitars is as red and shiny as RudolfOn her new album, Solid State: Songs from the Long Play, Sam has two songs that have quickly become new favorite Christmas tunes for me. One is explicitly about Christmas, and the other is not, but both speak eloquently (and truthfully) about the mystery and melancholy that the season brings to many of us.

In "It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas," Sam talks about missing someone special during the holidays. The lyrics are sad, her voice is sweet, and the juxtaposition of the two strikes a deep chord in my heart. True. Difficult. Beautiful.

 

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Hallelukulelejah!

by Cathleen Falsani 12-14-2011
A Ukulele, image via Wylio http://bit.ly/rpBkxF

A Ukulele, image via Wylio http://bit.ly/rpBkxF

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today we bid you a heartfelt Hallelukulelejah!

(Say that five times fast, I dare ya.)

Last year, the Corktown Ukulele Jam of Canada joined forces with the Corktown Chamber Orchestra for a rousing Uke, Strings and Choral performance Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" as part of the orchestra's annual Christmas Concert.

Experience a very ukulele Hallelujah inside ...

Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: David Wilcox

by Cathleen Falsani 12-14-2011
David Wilcox

David Wilcox

In this season of expectation as we await the incarnation of God-with-us, my heart turns to a song that, to me, captures the spirit of Christmas.
 
It has no jingle bells or chestnuts roasting by an open fire. There is no explicit reference to mangers, magi or a baby boy. But Asheville, N.C.'s favorite son, singer-songwriter David Wilcox, nails the heart of the Christmas story in his song, "Show the Way."
 
The sense of expectation, pearched on the edge of our seats waiting for something to happen — waiting for the divine surprise — is palpable in the song David first recorded on his 1994 album, Big Horizon.  And while David's tune "Miracle" — a whimsical retelling of the story of the Three Wise Men (whom he calls the "Three Wise Guys") — is also a Christmas favorite, it's "Show the  Way" that I return to in Advent, as we abide with joy, waiting to hear the cry of a tiny baby in a stable in a backwater town in the land we call "Holy."

The Daily Show Blasts Controversy Over "All-American Muslim"

by Cathleen Falsani 12-14-2011

Last night on "The Daily Show," host Jon Stewart and "senior Muslim correspondent" Aasif Mandvi took a few clever swings at the Florida Family Association and Lowe's for their opposition to the new TLC series "All-American Muslim," which depicts Muslim-American families living in Dearborn, Mich.

Hit the Hallelujah Button: The Roches

by Cathleen Falsani 12-13-2011
The Roches

The Roches

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today's installment comes from Maggie, Terre and and Suzzy Roche, aka The Roches, that iconoclastic folk sister act from Park Ridge, N.J. The Roches have been performing their quirky musical stylings since the 1970s. 

Their rendition of "Hallelujah Chorus" comes from a performance at the 1982 Improv.

You can enjoy The Roche's high-pitched Hallelujah inside...

The Virgin Mary: Soul Sister

by Cathleen Falsani 12-13-2011
Virgin Mary. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/srHSsb

Virgin Mary. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/srHSsb

The Mother of God as friend had never occurred to me. Not in the human sense, at least.

Surely Mary is a spiritual companion and, in that sense, “friend,” but when she walked among us, Mary was and had friends.

She also had a soul sister — her older cousin, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. When Mary realized the truth of her pregnancy, she “made haste” to the welcoming, non-judgmental, grace-filled friendship of her loving (and also pregnant) cousin’s arms.

Perhaps because I’m a new mother myself, as we enter this Advent season, I find myself looking at Mary the woman — the girl, really — with new eyes.

 

Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: Carrie Newcomer

by Cathleen Falsani 12-13-2011
Carrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer

In her inimitably lovely way, Carrie Newcomer, the Quaker singer-songwriter, tells the story of June and Emmett and their children gathered at their Christmas table to sing carols and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in her should-be classic, "Long Christmas Dinner." It's a celebration of simple pleasures and the powerful quotidian blessings of family, hearth and home.

It's a quiet, soul-stirring tune with images so vivid and familiar they stay with me throughout the year.

http://youtu.be/MYeIgrYpk8k

We asked Carrie what her favorite Christmas song was and this is what she said...

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Kazoolaluia!

by Cathleen Falsani 12-12-2011

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today's installment comes from a YouTube user named JazzMary and her friends, who, apparently, have an annual gathering for kazoo lessons and carols.

So we give you, Kazoolalulia!

Watch it on the blog...

Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: Bruce Cockburn

by Cathleen Falsani 12-12-2011
Bruce Cockburn.

Bruce Cockburn.

Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite Christmas song comes from Canadian singer-songwriter and longtime Sojourners friend Bruce Cockburn with his "Cry of a Tiny Babe" from his 1991 album Nothing But a Burning Light. The verse, "Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe," puts a lump in my throat every time I hear it.

http://youtu.be/RlX4cDAkz44

I asked Bruce, 66, who said he's "full of joy and wonder" these days celebrating the birth of his baby daughter, Iona, last month, what his favorite Christmas tune was and his answer is characteristically unpredictable and wondrous.

Great Expectations: Obama, Bieber and Baby Jesus

by Cathleen Falsani 12-12-2011
Justin Bieber (far right) sings with the Obama family at the Christmas in Washin

Justin Bieber (far right) sings with the Obama family at the Christmas in Washington Concert Sunday 12/11.

"This is the season to celebrate miracles," President Obama said. "This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep. He was no ordinary child. He was the manifestation of God’s love. And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world. For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives. It moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity."

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Banjo Ben Yahu

by Cathleen Falsani 12-09-2011
Banjo Ben Yahu. http://bit.ly/ry5W6n

Banjo Ben Yahu. http://bit.ly/ry5W6n

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today's installment comes from a fellow who goes by the handle (pardon the pun) "Banjo Ben Yahu" and, in addition to having an epic beard (someone call the casting director for "Whisker Wars" STAT), does the German composer proud with his solo-banjo rendition of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hit the Hallelujah Button: The Busiest Handbell Choir You've Ever Seen

by Cathleen Falsani 12-08-2011

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today's installment comes from the Daejeon Handbell Choir of South Korea - a quartet (!) of handbell players who impressively play all of the myriad parts while dressed in satin formalwear — without breaking a sweat.

Phew! Hallelujah indeed!

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Teddy Bear the Talking Porcupine Edition

by Cathleen Falsani 12-08-2011

"Teddy Bear" is a North American porcupine at Zooniversity and a foodie. He really likes corn on the cob and he LOVES leftover pumpkin.

In fact, he'll tell you more about it inside.

 

http://youtu.be/_dnB3IapeAA

David Wilcox on Guidance, Religion and Miracles

by Cathleen Falsani 12-07-2011
David Wilcox via http://www.davidwilcox.com

David Wilcox via http://www.davidwilcox.com

It's that time of the year again, the joyful season when Jeff, my iTunes DJ, starts spinning holiday music when I choose "random" from the play options on my keyboard.

I almost always have headphones on with music playing as I work each day, and the surprise of what Jeff, as I call him, comes up with — especially when he reaches into the way-back machine for sonic fodder — is a daily delight.

First thing this morning, Jeff decided to play the tune "Miracle" by Ashville, N.C., singer-songwriter David Wilcox.

Oh joy! It's long been one of my favorite unconventional Christmas songs but I'd forgotten about its many charms until I was taking my first sip of coffee today.

The song, which appears on David's 2006 album Vista, is a take on the Natvity story seen through David's remarkably creative, often childlike sensibilities. Here's a taste of the lyrics:

Few will chose to follow
Out of all the star invites
Most will hide safe inside
With the lantern turned up bright

Waiting for a miracle

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Sing it, Mr. Sister!

by Cathleen Falsani 12-06-2011
The Turtle Creek Chorale, in their more traditional garb. Via turtlecreek.org.

The Turtle Creek Chorale, in their more traditional garb. Via turtlecreek.org.

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Day 3's installment comes from an unlikely gaggle of nuns — in full habits. They are members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, an all-men's chorus from Dallas, Texas. The Chorale has traveled to Europe, performing sold out concerts in Barcelona, Berlin and Prague; as well as two appearances a Carnegie Hall.

Santa Claus and Black Face: Is Sinterklaas the Innocent Victim of Culture Clash or a Racist Anachronism?

by Cathleen Falsani 12-06-2011
Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") in a holiday parade in Holland, 2

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") in a holiday parade in Holland, 2006. Photo via http://bit.ly/4rt3nE

Happy Sinterklaas?

Today marks a traditional winter holiday in Holland and other parts of the European Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Lille and Arras, predominantly) featuring Sinter Klaas, the forerunner of our Santa Claus, who is traditionally accompanied by a helper named Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") — a young man in black face with curly black hair, thick red lips and dressed as a courtisan with a velvet jacket and frilled shirt.

Sinterklaas — who also goes by Sint Niklaas or De Sint in Holland and environs — was a stranger to me until a few years ago when Dutch-American friends introduced him to me. In my friends' home this morning, the children will awaken to wooden shoes filled with goodies.

Sounds like a charming holiday tradition from the old country. But is it simply that?

Hit the Hallelujah Button: From Alaska, With Love.

by Cathleen Falsani 12-05-2011
Quinhagak, Alaska

Quinhagak, Alaska

George Frideric Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," has been a staple of Christmastide for hundreds of years. Each day until Christmas we bring you a different video rendition of the classic holiday chorus. HALLELUJAH!

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Day 3's installment comes from the denizens of Quinhagak, Alaska, featuring the darling students from the Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat 5th Grade glass.

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Monday, December 5, 2011

by Cathleen Falsani 12-05-2011

Occupy igloos ... and rooftops. Buy a gun for the one you love ... or a walk-on role on True Blood (for charity!) Theological wisdom from the mouths of (muppet) otters and stand-up comedians. And you never know what you'll find on Google Earth.