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Renée LaReau :
30 article(s)

Renée LaReau has been a BustedHalo contributing editor since 2002. She writes from South Bend, Indiana.
February 24th, 2009
besides giving up chocolate

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for the Easter season when Christians are called to renew their commitments to spiritual practices like Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving…. The season is intended as a time for personal conversion leading up to Easter. The belief is that our consistent participation in these practices — like exercise we do for our physical health — is a form of purification that improves our spiritual well-being by stripping away all that is unnecessary and by becoming more mindful of our ultimate dependence on God in our lives. Lent is an annual opportunity to grow in our faith, which means it’s about much more than giving up unhealthy foods

September 16th, 2008
An Army veteran and scholar on the costs of waging peace

As a scholar, peace activist and Army veteran, David Cortright offers a unique perspective on war and peace issues. A professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Cortright also has advised the United Nations on issues including weapons inspections, counterterrorism, and sanctions against rogue regimes. He has written widely on nuclear disarmament, nonviolent social change, and the use of incentives and sanctions as tools of international peacemaking.
Cortright is president of the Fourth Freedom Forum… in Goshen, Indiana, an organization that works to foster international relations based on the “force of law rather than the law of force.” His new

November 27th, 2007
Five recommended spiritual reads for Advent and Christmas

This year will be different.
That’s the promise many of us make to ourselves just after Thanksgiving each year. We make silent oaths that we won’t spend too much on Christmas presents. We tell ourselves that we won’t overindulge at holiday fêtes, and that we’ll take some time to really …savor the true meaning of the season.
We kickoff our Christmas preparations with the best of intentions, but often we don’t nurture any part of ourselves other than our latent inner shopper. Yet, the days of Advent and Christmas can be most meaningful when we take time to attend to our spiritual lives.
Fortunately, there are a number of great resources out there to help. A great antidote to the

September 27th, 2007
The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s

In many ways, the 18-to-34-year-old crowd is a sought-after demographic. Advertisers continually try to lure young fashionistas, techies and foodies with their cutting-edge wares. Television executives craft sitcoms and reality shows hoping to capture the interest of this population. The Catholic Church, too, seeks their energy, enthusiasm and talents.
But appealing to these young adults in way that leads to lifelong commitment presents a challenge. How can an institution with a 2,000 year history, that’s not typically known for its innovation or it speed, attract and engage young adults, who prize the immediacy of text messaging and Google searches, change careers every two to three years,…

January 23rd, 2007
Meditations for Finding Peace by Nicole Sotelo

“Your faith has made you well,” Jesus says to a woman who seeks out his healing presence. “Go in peace, and be healed…” (Mark 5:34). Many people who have suffered as a result of disease, divorce, death or other tragedies speak to faith’s capacity to heal and comfort. In her first book, Women Healing from Abuse: Meditations for Finding Peace, Nicole Sotelo highlights resources from the Christian tradition with the hope that they may provide spiritual healing to women who have suffered from different forms of abuse, whether they be economic, emotional, physical, and/or sexual.
Sotelo—who also serves as a contributing editor for BustedHalo.com— reports…

October 26th, 2006
A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape: by Peter Feuerherd

Visit Jerusalem in Orlando! Journey into the Sinai Wilderness! Expect to be inspired! These are some of the many exclamations splashed across the Web site for The Holy Land Experience, a Florida theme park advertised as “Orlando’s most inspiring destination.” This Holy Land facsimile, dotted with such sites as “The Dead Sea Qumran Caves,” “Calvary’s Garden Tomb” and the “Jerusalem Street Market,” is the locus, literally and figuratively, for author Peter Feuerherd’s introduction to the growing public influence of two religious groups in America: Catholics and Evangelicals. “This center of evangelical kitsch next to…

October 19th, 2006
Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women: by Christine B. Whelan

Reviewed by Renée LaReau
In a well-known “Sex and the City” episode, Miranda, a high-powered attorney who works 16-hour days, tells a man she meets at a speed dating event that she’s a flight attendant. Why? She’s afraid she’ll intimidate him with the truth, ruining her chances for a real dinner-and-movie date or even a romantic relationship. Despite her professional successes and girl-about-town independence, Miranda has clearly internalized a longstanding social bromide: Men don’t make passes at girls with glasses.
New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd pulls no punches with her own interpretation: “I’d been noticing a trend…famous…

March 31st, 2006
An interview with the author of My Life with the Saints

Rev. James Martin–Jesuit priest and associate editor of America magazine–has written and edited numerous books on the spiritual life, including the memoir In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, chronicling his journey from the corporate subculture of General Electric to the Jesuit priesthood, and Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions. News outlets like CNN and National Public Radio frequently seek Martin’s commentary on Catholic issues, and he is a popular and sought-after speaker. BustedHalo recently talked to Fr. Martin about his new book My Life with the Saints which was released at the beginning of March…

March 13th, 2006
The Best American Spiritual Writing 2005

A quick glance at the “inspiration” section in any large bookstore is all one needs to determine that books classified as spiritual writing occupy a large tent. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s The Gift of Peace nestles next to Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, while Kabbalah for Beginners and books of Sufi poetry fill the shelves immediately below. The poems, confessional essays, journalistic analyses and riffs that fill the pages of Best American Spiritual Writing are of the decidedly literary variety, having been gleaned from mainstream periodicals like The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times magazine, as well as more specialized journals and literary magazines…

November 7th, 2005
John Allen's new book on Opus Dei attempts to separate fact from fiction regarding the most controversial force in the Catholic Church.

Chances are, for most people, the words “Opus Dei” conjure up the image of an albino assassin monk, Silas, or the mysterious and haunting “Teacher” in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Controversy has swirled around Brown’s fictional interpretation of a number of religious topics since Da Vinci’s publication and, no doubt, was also a factor in making it one of the best selling novels of all time. Interest in Opus Dei shows no sign of waning as the cinematic version of the The Da Vinci Code is scheduled to debut this coming spring. The book’s success has been so phenomenal that a cottage industry of books all claiming to “debunk” or “decode” Da Vinci has even emerged as well.
John Allen’s…

June 8th, 2005
A Basic Guide to Catholic Dogma, Doctrine and Teaching

After the death of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict the XVI, print and broadcast media pundits regularly bandied about phrases like “defender of church doctrine” and “watchdog of church teaching.” After a few days of taking in the breaking news, the differences between terms like “dogma” and “doctrine” and “teaching” seemed to blur. Parsing the distinctions between the terms can be tricky. In addition, there is no existing definitive list of all the Catholic dogmas, doctrines, teachings and practices. But it’s still worth taking a closer look at the way we define what provides the backbone of the Catholic faith, articulated…

December 23rd, 2004

On the surface, Christmas shopping season is at its peak and our lists of “must haves” and wants are long. But will full shopping bags and trees blockaded by presents fulfill all our Christmas desires? No way, says our unofficial survey.

December 19th, 2004
BustedHalo speaks with the nun who changed the Catholic Church's teachings on anti-Semitism.

Sitting in her wheelchair and tethered to a constant supply of oxygen, 84-year-old Sr. Rose Thering doesn’t exactly fit the image of a righteous crusader for change. But this Dominican sister who challenged the Catholic Church’s long-held teachings regarding the Jewish people has been an unlikely hero in the decades-long struggle to change Catholic attitudes. Through her doctoral research, which played a pivotal role in Vatican II, and her activism since then, this diminutive nun from the Midwest has been instrumental in officially changing the Catholic Church’s position on its relationship with Jews and reversing the Church’s teachings that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus.…

December 13th, 2004
a book by Terry Gross

In the introduction to a collection of her radio interviews broadcast on National Public Radio, Fresh Air host Terry Gross has a few words for potential skeptics: “You may be wondering what the point is of reading interviews that were meant to be listened to,” writes Gross, who has hosted Fresh Air since 1975. “But in going through transcripts in preparation for this book, I was pleasantly surprised that so many of the interviews I remembered as having been good radio also made for enjoyable reading. In reading the ones gathered here?and I probably shouldn’t admit this?I’ve learned things from them that went right by me in the studio.”
While guests on Fresh Air are often…

October 23rd, 2004

On Election Day 2004 all eyes were on the state of Ohio, where some voters stood in line for hours to cast their presidential vote. Busted Halo asked some young voters in Columbus, the state capitol, for their thoughts on the outcome of this year’s presidential election.…

June 24th, 2004
Through his recent book and Yoga DVD, Father Thomas Ryan is reclaiming the body in Christian spirituality.

Whether it’s Pilates or spinning, marathoning or extreme kayaking, Americans love their exercise. No doubt the number of new gym memberships and fitness-related New Year’s resolutions will spike in a couple of weeks, right after we’ve all ingested too many rum balls and glasses of egg nog.
Physical activity for the sake of good health is certainly a noble goal. No one would debate the health benefits of an after dinner walk, a daily run, or taking the stairs whenever possible. But Fr. Thomas Ryan a Paulist priest as well as a certified yoga instructor and avid skier, believes physical activity enhances both bodily and spiritual health. In other words, taking good care of our bodies has spiritual…

May 1st, 2004
The Best Catholic Writing 2004

Robert Barron, a young priest and theologian, recently coined the phrase “beige Catholicism,” lamenting that Catholicism, in its effort to blend seamlessly into the fabric of American life is in danger of being stripped of its uniqueness, its color, and its vibrancy. Perhaps Barron is right. Maybe we are becoming kind of bland and beige, with all of our public image issues, our myopic family t?te-?-t?tes over scandals, church closings, and Communion politics. If in fact we are plagued by beige-ness, then the writers whose work is featured in The Best Catholic Writing 2004 (Loyola Press, 228 pages, $14.95), an anthology edited by University of Portland alumni magazine editor Brian Doyle, are…

March 19th, 2004
Adventures of a Minor League Baseball Announcer

Opening day awaits
As the River City Rascals’ home opener approaches, radio baseball announcer Phil Giubileo’s to-do list grows longer. As the broadcast voice for this Frontier League single “A” team located 35 miles west of downtown St. Louis, Giubileo, who is heard over on KSLQ 104.5 FM, will pore over last year’s statistics, schmooze with the new players, and arrange his broadcast equipment in the press box. He will also be doing quite a bit of heavy lifting .
Heavy lifting? A radio announcer? Sure. In the minor leagues everyone lends a hand, especially at the beginning of the season. Before each Rascals game Giubileo spends 30 minutes sweeping out the press box and emptying…

February 8th, 2004
Making sense of a milestone

On a recent Saturday night, my husband and I went to a concert for an Irish punk band he had been following for over half a decade. We arrived at Columbus ‘ PromoWest Pavilion at 10:15pm, a deliberate move to bypass the opening acts. I stood on a bench behind Jim in the back of the dark, cavernous room, quietly grooving as I looked out over the luminous mass of sweating, moshing, grinding twentysomethings. As I checked out the shoulder tats and lingerie-and-jeans ensembles, with absolutely no desire to be a part of the action, I came to a realization.
I am old. Or at least semi-old. I have just turned 30, and this milestone birthday has caused me to reflect on such things. Yes, I know that 30 is not pass-the-Ensure or…

January 16th, 2004
The Riveting but Overcooked "House of Sand and Fog"

“Some dreams can’t be shared,” warns the tagline for “House of Sand and Fog.” And thus the ominous stage is set for dreams to collide: those of Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) a recovering addict and housecleaner, trying to keep her life together after her husband has left her; and those of Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), a former Iranian colonel who, after serving in the military under the shah, emigrated to America with his family.
Kathy vs. Colonel
The county evicts Kathy from her house, a ramshackle San Francisco bungalow with a tiny view of the ocean, due to a supposed unpaid business tax that turns out to be a clerical error. By the time Kathy discovers the error it is too…

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