Busted Halo
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Rocco Palmo :
18 article(s)

Rocco Palmo, 24, is an American correspondent for The Tablet and author of the blog Whispers in the Loggia.
June 14th, 2007
God Machine or Tech Temptation?

June 29th marks the feast day dedicated to the founders of the church of Rome: Saints Peter and Paul. The observance is an ancient one, but this year it coincides with a religious festival of a more modern sort. For the believers of this other faith, it’s the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they’ll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they’ve long lusted and defended against all nay-sayers, sight unseen.
I’m talking, of course, about the release of Apple’s iPhone. And to say that the thought of nabbing one makes my brain water would be putting it lightly.
To be sure, I’m a new convert. But as with many others, the living encounter with the Mac…

May 18th, 2007
A death in the family

Amid news of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death earlier this week, the coverage was predictable. Conservatives who benefited from the pioneering televangelist’s forays into politics praised his stances and lamented his departure from the stage, while liberals took it upon themselves to assume the same role of unrelenting judge that they found so abhorrent when Falwell, himself, played it.
But beyond the noise of the polarizing political reactions what is often missed is the intensely personal and human dimension to Reverend Falwell’s death; that is what I experienced.
While I normally play the role of the Vatican scribe covering the colossus of all things Catholic, I don’t often…

April 20th, 2007
The Sopranos, it's All in the "Family"

Earlier this week, the Paulist Fathers —you know, the people who run this fine website—were the beneficiaries one of the more unusual product placements in recent memory when the Paulist-founded Humanitas Prize, was showcased on The Sopranos…right before it was used to bash someone’s head in.
To quote its network’s old slogan, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” As the legendary series makes its way through its final season, its impact on pop culture is secure.
Two hours into the last call for “Bada-Bing” and Baccalas, there haven’t been any major on-screen “whackings.” At least not yet. But it still feels like we’re…

February 12th, 2007
Happy Valentine's Day! Is Love Dead?

You can feel it in the air—the mad rush on Tiffany’s, restaurants booked-up for prix fixe dinners, store shelves cleared of teddy bears, chocolate and flowers. (And if you’re waiting until now to pick up any of these, good luck.)
Valentine’s Day—”Lovers’ Day,” as it’s called in the Romance languages—is right around the corner. It’s been celebrated for centuries, but these days, for my generation, I can’t help but wonder sometimes what February 14th means to us… and what it doesn’t.
Not-So-Inner
My inner amateur sociologist has long maintained a particular curiosity about relationships, partly because mine…

January 12th, 2007
An American Saint

“The world is all messed up, the nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around.”
As the scourges of a never-ending war continue to dominate our national debate, division trumps common ground in the public square, and our leaders play political games while the marginalized continue to suffer in society’s shadows, it would be hard to find a truer sentiment than the one above to describe the American situation today.
In reality, though, these were the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoken in Memphis the night before he died nearly 40 years ago. But sickness, confusion and trouble, weren’t all he saw.
“But I know somehow,” Dr. King went on, “that only…

December 7th, 2006
All I want for Christmas

I don’t really know what I want for Christmas.
Sure, I want to have my Christmas cards done by my traditional (but never-heeded) deadline of December 10th. I’d like to be able to wave my hand and find my bedroom and office— which, as always, look as if they’ve been bomb-struck—looking somewhat sane. And, of course, a bit more security in terms of my professional situation would be nice…
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
They say this time of year is blessed and special but the older we get it becomes harder to see that amidst our frenzied gift-buying, the drama, or the pain of loss or loneliness that the holidays often bring hauntingly back. These days, with…

November 27th, 2006
Of High Priests and Universal Language

At the time, Rice’s much-anticipated second album was still in production. Ironically, last week, while spending time with high priests of a different sort, Rice’s new album, 9, was released. I got my first impressions of it while heading to a Baltimore hotel to attend the annual November meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops – which, in my world, is something akin to DisneyWorld, Xanadu, Ibiza… or whatever else you’d call “paradise.”
Almighty O
After a hiatus of four years since the debut of the almighty O–a widely acclaimed album whose beautiful, soul-rattling material felt as if it were written with the finger of God—it’s hard…

November 9th, 2006
Catholic NO-It-Alls

I don’t often show it, but I’m a bit of a political animal.
In college, I majored in political science with a primary concentration in American politics alongside an independent study of the internal machinery of the church. For a long time, campaign season meant high-gear; I worked on races at all levels and on both sides of the aisle, ending up as a mix of strategist, spokesman or campaign manager on a smattering of local contests.
But somewhere along the way, something changed. I became frustrated with the guts of the process: the wordy statements that really said nothing, the ceaseless clawing of fund-raising and, most of all, the hollow superficiality, depraved tactics and poisonous polarization…

October 27th, 2006
Love is in the Air

The save-the-date cards are rolling in with a frequency usually reserved for bills (this weekend, I’ll be at the third family wedding of the year). Many of my friends are excitedly hinting at engagements and the rest of them have something to show for their many nights spent out on the “scouting tour.” A priest-friend of mine in the missions just presided at his parish’s first wedding since the early 1930s and, closer to home, BustedHalo’s own Dr. Christine Whelan has hit it big in the States with her new book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.
As the saying goes, love is in the air.
But if that’s true then I must be either hermetically sealed off from it or on an oxygen tank.
Embedded…

October 13th, 2006
The Punk Priest

At first, clicking onto Fr. Bob Lubic’s website seems like a relatively conventional Catholic experience in the internet age. The sublime sound of Gregorian chant wafts from the computer and a photo of the Western Pennsylvania priest clad in Mass vestments fills the screen.
But then, out of nowhere, the sound of a scratching record signals that things might not be exactly as they seem. Suddenly, Lubic’s image transforms into that of an Ozzfest concertgoer and the music leaps into a ska-punk version of “Here I Am, Lord” more reminiscent of Goldfinger’s “Here In Your Bedroom” than anything you’d expect to hear on Sunday morning at the local parish.
Rare
To…

September 29th, 2006
Turning Inside Out

As time goes on, and this column keeps evolving, I’ve found something interesting. For once, I hope I’m wrong on this one but, just in case, let me clue you in on what I’ve been thinking.
“Almost Holy” was conceived as a bridge between the ad extra (outside the church) audience of “spiritual seekers” for whom BustedHalo exists and the inside-baseball crowd who I seek to inform, entertain etc. on my blog, “Whispers in the Loggia.” In more ways than one, the chance to go beyond the cloistered comfort of insider-dom and put together some observations from the intersection of the Church and the World was a natural fit; I’ve spent most of my life at that…

September 28th, 2006
Spiritual Soundtrack

As I wasn’t blessed with enough talent to be one, I’ve always kept a special place in my heart for musicians. It’s part envy, of course—a friend lent me his guitar for three years, at the end of which I still couldn’t play “Happy Birthday” —but also great admiration for the way a song can capture the mind and lift the soul in a way words alone can’t.
Since I don’t get to read much for pleasure, I write for a living (i.e. sit in seclusion for most of the day) and need something beside the 13 or so cups of black coffee I drink every day to keep me going. My twin life-savers—my iPod and satellite radio—are, by necessity, never far out of reach. I’ve built…

September 1st, 2006
MTV and Mother Church

August may be behind us now, but last month offered two milestones we’d be smart to pay attention to. A month ago today, MTV marked its 25th anniversary, while just a few weeks back was the one year anniversary of Pope Benedict’s first foreign visit—to his native Germany, where he presided at World Youth Day in Cologne.
Not surprisingly MTV’s big birthday got an avalanche of coverage that acknowledged its role as a galvanizing force in the culture. But the first anniversary of the Cologne trip—where Benedict largely surpassed expectations and pumped up a crowd of young people estimated at over 1 million—largely went unnoted, even in the Catholic press and chattering circles.…

August 24th, 2006
Our readers weigh in on Rocco Palmo's column on women's ordination

Catholic Suicide
Dear Rocco,
I will always read your impressive work, a gift handed down to you by no one other than God. I also felt unease about the women’s ordinations on the river in Pittsburgh, because they cannot be done in the style and “tradition” of our church. You could create beautiful paragraphs on that with graciousness, knowledge and wit. Your recent commentaries on this event however, did not glide in that direction. They were a bit on the heavy side, mocking with wit more than perspective, of which you have both in abundance for a 23 year-old gifted male who loves the church and who can write intelligently at such a young age, relatively speaking.
However, I am disappointed with…

August 8th, 2006
Down by the River

Those of you who follow Catholic news might have heard about a ceremony last week in Pittsburgh. It took place in a boat, on a river… with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Forgive the Beatles’ allusion, but the intended purpose of the exercise was about as trippy as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: twelve women claimed that the Pittsburgh event marked their “ordination” as priests and deacons.
Sorry to be a killjoy, but not so fast.
The Survey Says
Of course, a sensitive topic like this takes a bit of explanation. If you look at the polls, you’ll hear that 70% of Catholics questioned would support a change of the Church’s teachings to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood.…

July 21st, 2006
The Bishop's Send-Off and the Return of the High Priest

It’s become a defining trait of my journey that much of it is spent in the “bridge and tunnel” traffic of crossing parallel universes. As it keeps things fresh and diverse—and keeps me learning and open as a result—I’m convinced that it’s good for the soul, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Then again, I have a high tolerance for pain.
Another eclectic journey is on-deck for next week. It’s not terribly exotic, but I’m still really looking forward to it.
Next Friday evening begins in the friendly confines of Philadelphia’s Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, as the hometown Church crowd gathers to bid farewell to Bishop Michael…

July 6th, 2006
God and Garden State

Last weekend, wending my way through North Jersey for a holiday barbeque at my cousin’s house, I indulged yet again in one of my exceptionally odd habits and pulled up a moment-specific set of music on my iPod.
I know I’m not alone in this. Case in point: the continued obsession with Bon Jovi among people who went through high school in the mid-‘80s. These thirty-somethings have screamed the chorus to “Livin’ on a Prayer” 800,000 times each and will continue to do so—despite how ridiculous it looks—even though the band’s frontman owns an arena-football team and ain’t been livin’ on a prayer for decades.
Music and Memory
The moral of the story,…

June 23rd, 2006
My First Confession

As it’s a good mantra of the Christian journey, here’s to new beginnings.
With its daily focus on the arcana of all things Vatican and what happens behind the sacristy doors, some of you who know the chaos that is “Whispers in the Loggia” might’ve thought that its humble author was a jaded, seen-it-all-before type who holds court in shadowy corners of cavernous churches, trafficking in ecclesiastical scuttlebutt.
Thanks to the series of interviews published recently by BustedHalo, many of you were surprised to discover that what I call my “Whispers voice” is quite different from my own. The response to that series was overwhelmingly positive and through this…

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