Busted Halo
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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

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

November 19th, 2007
A review of A Jesuit Off-Broadway

In his latest book, James Martin, SJ explores the work of a contemporary priest and exemplifies the quintessential Jesuit as cultured, literate believer who seeks to “find God in all things, in all peoples and in all environments.”
A Jesuit Off-Broadway recounts the months Martin—author of My Life with the Saints and an editor at America magazine—spends as the theological advisor and unofficial chaplain for the LABryinth Theater Company in New York while they mounted a brand new play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. When company member Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James…) took the role of Judas he sought out Martin for crash courses on New Testament theology, the historical

November 16th, 2007
Redford's Lions for Lambs paints 20-somethings with broad strokes

“Rome is burning, son!”
So says Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) to a disaffected student named Todd in Redford’s new film, Lions for Lambs…. It’s an alarming message, in a movie full of messages: civil rights are in peril, soldiers are dying, and American morale is low. To each of which, Redford asks: what are we going to do about it?
If only the Redford’s plot were as easy to follow as his pontificating. Redford isn’t able to successfully weave together his stories in ninety minutes, so a concise and comprehensible plot summary is nearly impossible. While Malley exhorts the increasingly jaded Todd to get involved, a veteran reporter (Meryl Streep) in distant

November 15th, 2007
BustedHalo's editor-in-chief discusses Springsteen's Magic

Musician and BustedHalo editor-in-chief, Bill McGarvey, discusses Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Magic on a podcast with America… magazine‘s online editor, Tim Reidy.
Listen to America Magazine’s podcast.

November 1st, 2007

Do you usually say a prayer or form of grace before your Thanksgiving meal? If so, what do you want your grace to be for this Thanksgiving?…

October 29th, 2007
DAM brings the Palestinian struggle into the world of rap

In much of the hip hop music world the constant threat of menace and violence is simply a given. Few would argue that a large part of the music’s appeal is deeply tied up with the sense of danger that certain artists evoke and that considerable energy and resources are spent to establish an artist’s “street cred” by promoting their history of poverty, violence and their prison record. Despite the fact that much of that sense of danger may very well be manufactured, it can make a big difference to the bottom line: music and ticket sales.
As an American in my mid-twenties, hip-hop has been a musical cornerstone of my adolescence. Normally, attending a hip-hop concert on a warm summer night wouldn’t…

October 25th, 2007
Earnest but off-key, Bella preaches to the choir

Metanoia films’ mission statement “to make films that matter and have the potential of making a meaningful difference in people’s lives” is both lofty and laudable. To the young company’s credit their first film, Bella has received some attention on the festival circuit—most notably the People’s Choice award at the Toronto film fest—and is about to be released in selected cities over the next few weeks. While Bella… will most likely matter and make a difference to some audiences, its earnest attempts to straddle different worlds has decidedly mixed results.
Much of the story follows the main characters, Nina (Tammy Blanchard, above left) and José

October 18th, 2007

How much do you try to understand faiths outside of your own?…

October 18th, 2007

How do you feel about North Korea having nuclear weapons? Does it make you nervous? What should be done about it?…

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