Busted Halo
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February 29th, 2008

“A recent study found that 44% of American adults have changed their faith from when they were children. Have you changed your own personal faith, and if so, why?”…

February 22nd, 2008
Fr. William Byron helps move prayer beyond our own desires

For many people, prayer is a private matter. Most of us prefer to pray alone and often squirm uncomfortably when someone suggests saying grace in a public place. We don’t often consider it proper to vocalize a prayer aloud.
But as William J. Byron, SJ points out, “The entire Christian world knows that when Jesus taught his followers how to pray he did not tell them to say ‘My Father.’ Rather, he instructed them to say ‘Our Father.’” We are often so preoccupied with our own day to day needs that the needs of others take second place—or perhaps even a distant third or fourth. Making time to pray simply for ourselves is a challenge in our culture, and our forgetfulness…

February 11th, 2008

“What does the idea of sacrifice mean to you?”…

February 8th, 2008
An Orthodox Christian college student ponders salvation

So Heath Ledger passed away a few weeks ago, the final outcome of a long struggle with depression, substances, and wild living. While the thousands dying of starvation and neglect around the world are undeniably a bigger concern, I did find myself shocked and saddened. Although my generation has seen turmoil and tragedy in the world, from 9/11 to Iraq to Katrina, we haven’t really had a single Kurt Cobain-type figure around whom we can rally.
My favorite authors, from theologian Rob Bell to columnist Chuck Klosterman, find deeper meaning in pop culture, and in my own life, art, music, literature and film have always been tied to understanding God and appreciating His universe. I was baptized and raised Orthodox…

February 4th, 2008
Men, women and sports

My husband isn’t speaking to me. He isn’t speaking to anyone, really. He’s crushed by the Patriots defeat in last night’s SuperBowl.

I’m not that chatty either, but not because I care one way or another about the Giants’ upset last night. I’m just exhausted from hosting a big SuperBowl party, after a weekend of traveling.
I got up at 4 a.m. to fly from New York City (where LaGuardia was all decked out in Giants banners) to Iowa City. A snowstorm was headed for us, but I couldn’t be delayed: We were hosting 25 people for a SuperBowl party.
Super Snow Storm
Crazy? Yes. I don’t recommend hosting a party on a day which you begin 1000 miles away. But as the saying goes,…

January 30th, 2008
Ginny Kubitz Moyer's book, Mary and Me offers contemporary women's experience of the Blessed Mother

For many young women, their sense of Mary, mother of Jesus, is relatively one-dimensional. They recall a humble, pious woman who was submissive to both her husband and her God. Or she’s the woman in blue whom we crown with roses every May and who adorns our gardens peacefully. The modern female, it might seem, would have little in common with a woman who seems so out of touch with contemporary life.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer’s book, Mary and Me… (St Anthony Messenger Press, Jan. 2008) shatters all those presumptions by compiling reflections and stories from 46 modern women of all ages about their relationships with Mary. While the author uses traditional Marian titles like “Our Lady of Sorrows”

January 25th, 2008
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood stuns and confounds

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood… literally starts off with a thud. Only a few minutes into the film, set in late 19th and early 20th century California, the protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) loses his grip on a ladder and plunges down a shaft where he’s been excavating for silver.
When Plainview emerges, small chunk of silver ore in hand, Anderson shows us his changing fortunes with a few, quick brushstrokes. We see Plainview lying on the floor of an office, stretching the leg he shattered in the plummet, while surveyors certify his valuable discovery. From there he’s onto oil. He strikes crude with a small crew, and before long he’s making successful,

January 23rd, 2008

“Did you make any resolutions regarding your spiritual, religious or faith life this year?”…

January 18th, 2008
An illustrated slideshow

January 16th, 2008

Are there any songs that you feel a spiritual connection to?…

December 30th, 2007
From Falcon Crest to Philanthropist

Jane Wyman was buried in a Dominican habit. Bet you didn’t catch that fact in your local paper. For lazy obituary writers, she was Ronald Reagan’s first wife, earning the notoriety of being the sole ex-wife of an American president. A list of her acting credits followed, including her Oscar-winning performance as a deaf-mute woman in Johnny Belinda and her portrayal of the scheming matriarch on “Falcon Crest.”
It’s tempting to delve into the mystery surrounding her four brief marriages and her son’s sensationalist autobiographies of his miserable childhood. I prefer to note that her talent and career savvy paid the bills for over six decades.
Both Reagan and Wyman never commented on their marriage…

December 30th, 2007
Masters who saw beyond and within

Do you remember the story of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams dying on the same day: July 4, 1826? For film enthusiasts, a similar kind of cultural synchronicity was evoked by the deaths of Antonioni and Bergman, within hours of each other, on July 30, 2007. Both of these filmmakers contributed mightily to their chosen art form. Both were recognized for bringing a new voice to the medium. Both drew audiences to “art house” cinemas through the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s, to view films that opened up new possibilities for popular philosophical inquiry. Both seemed to capture the cries and alienation of their time.
My own brushes with these masters helped to define my understanding of the power of film. Antonioni…

December 22nd, 2007
"A Christmas Carol" Lives On

If there’s one story everyone knows, it’s “A Christmas Carol.” The saga of the miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s meanest man into a grateful, humble, compassionate human being has touched untold millions—more like billions—of people since its publication 164 years ago. It hit the stands December 16, 1843, and within a week had sold 6,000 copies. What writer today wouldn’t kill for that kind of a success?
“A Christmas Carol” has been so popular and enduring, in fact, that it’s become part of our very linguistic heritage. Expressions like “Bah, humbug!” and “God bless us, every one!” are…

December 21st, 2007
Christmas consolation...a belated obituary

It’s a Wonderful Life, is a great story, and I hope yours is a Bedford Falls kind of life. But our Pottervilles, both social and personal, still cry out for salvation, most poignantly during Advent and Christmastime.
I write this without attaching my name in deference to my mother and my family, who in no way need nor deserve to be exposed in an article of this nature. Still I write, hopefully, to comfort and console, especially at Christmas, those like us who experienced the death of a family member whom we wanted to love.
It was a little over a year ago that I received word that my father had died. To make things more painful, we learned that he had died two weeks earlier. It was just a strange coincidence that saw the…

December 20th, 2007
The filmmaking brothers follow up their groundbreaking 9/11 documentary with In God's Name

On the morning of September 11, 2001 French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet—who had been working for three months on a documentary on firemen—found themselves filming inside the World Trade Towers as they collapsed. The events they captured on film that morning became the basis for their Emmy and Peabody Award winning documentary 9/11. According to Jules, their first-hand experience of that tragedy became the “first step in a journey that would take us around the world searching for answers to the meaning of life.”
That journey is chronicled in In God’s Name, which is the Naudets’ first film since 9/11. In God’s Name… (Sunday, December 23, CBS, 9:00-11:00 PM,

December 14th, 2007

“Have you ever dated someone outside of your own personal faith, and if so, what were the challenges?”…

December 13th, 2007
Mailer's final book reimagines God, the devil, heaven, hell and our search for meaning in the world

Who is God? Is he the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being of Judeo-Christian thought? Or might he be something less ultimate, more vulnerable? Might he even need our help? And if this is true, if we are God’s last chance, what hope is there for the future of the world?
This kind of freewheeling religious speculation isn’t seen much in contemporary American culture, but if anyone can still pose questions like these it’s Norman Mailer, one of the preeminent literary figures of the last half century.
Mailer, who died in November at the age of 84, was a celebrated writer with a taste for big topics and provocative ideas. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead…, was an instant classic, a gut-wrenching

December 12th, 2007
The true meaning of A Charlie Brown Christmas

Most people respond to the approach of Christmas with a happy blizzard of activity. They lick stamps and fix them to final flurries of Christmas cards. They bake. They bounce between the malls until their cars are caked white with salt.
Me—I gripe. I raise holy hell about 24/7 Christmas programming on the radio, or holiday sales unfurled before teenagers have time to vandalize my Halloween decorations. In December, folks like me become Scrooges in reverse. We jab “bah humbugs” at anyone who profanes our precious yuletide with a wintry mix of commercial excesses. We grumble to no one in particular about an imagined “war on Christmas.”
But every year, I’m narrowly rescued…

December 9th, 2007
One young family attempts to navigate the treacherous waters of Greedikah

The Maccabees didn’t stand a chance against the catalogs that began to appear in in mid-November. Our children, Jonah and Maia, began to look through them as a hobby. They each settled on one expensive present that would link their longing with that of a gazillion other children, Jewish and Christian, a terrifying and determined mob, plotting their conquests around the globe. We dreaded the arrival of the catalogs each afternoon. The children could spot them sticking out of our mailbox like eagles spotting a mouse from a great height. They were their Torahs, their holy books.
“I get to see it first!” Jonah, who was six, screamed.
“No, me!” Maia, who was two, shrieked.
Jonah could…

December 7th, 2007
Juno has wit, heart and edge

Is there anything funny about a sixteen year old girl getting pregnant? Actually, there’s quite a bit in the new film Juno….
A smart and smart-mouthed Minnesota teen named Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) finds herself pregnant after her first sexual experience with a shy, nerdy classmate (Michael Cera). Her first inclination is to abort the child and she even goes to a clinic for the procedure. But an encounter with a friend from school—along with the comically bizarre abortion clinic—results in Juno rushing out and soon after deciding to give her baby up for adoption. After searching for prospective parents in the local Penny Saver, she decides on Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner and Jason

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