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April 5th, 2011
A devastating church fire offers lessons in impermanence and perspective

At 5:30am Sunday someone driving up Route 9 saw our church on fire and called the fire department. Orange flames flew heavenward, taking with them everything that the 170-year-old building contained, including our prized grand piano which we’d fundraised for, parishioners buying individual keys of the 88 needed; our healing quilt that Annie Kner made for the auction of 2008, a quilt deemed too beautiful for any one person to own. We decided to purchase it for the church to act as our stained glass window. When a member of the congregation needed healing, we sent the quilt out to wrap that person in. Arnold Westwood, our beloved 88-year-old friend, died wrapped in the quilt.
I used to live in a 15-passenger…

April 3rd, 2011
Neil Jordan's take on one of history's most infamous popes is just not interesting

When legendary filmmaker George Cukor was asked what he thought about his 1935 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, he said if he could do it over again he would “get the garlic and the Mediterranean into it.” What Cukor meant was that his staid retelling of Shakespeare’s legendary tome of star-crossed lovers lacked the intensity and passion at the heart of the tale. The same could be said of another story of a Renaissance family on the Mediterranean: Showtime’s latest offering of historical fiction, The Borgias….
The show focuses on the life and times of one of history’s most infamous popes, Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons), aka Rodrigo Borgia, and the escapades and intrigues of his nefarious

March 30th, 2011
When your team is far from the Final Four

Half the fun of the World’s Fair is the train ride getting there.
My dad frequently mutters this spiffy mantra to himself, having been in attendance at the 1964 World’s Fair. I’ve overheard it most often on the ride home after watching our hometown basketball team get destroyed — it thus carries a bittersweet significance, as does the life of a recreational ascetic: a Rutgers basketball fan.
My father and I have had season tickets for Rutgers games since my most awkward years of the seventh grade. Memories of winter night games are highlighted by the smell of popcorn, the tunes of the pep band and periodic Rutgers wins — my beloved Scarlet Knights have not been to the NCAA Tournament…

March 25th, 2011

What are the origins of abstaining from meat on the Fridays of Lent? Stephanie the intern joins us; Brittany has new glasses. Check out the Fast-Pray-Give Calendar on BustedHalo.com. 3-25-11.…

March 24th, 2011
Does Just War apply?

Bombs came raining down; the night sky was punctuated with the light of streams of bullets; over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from U.S. warships; and French jets were actively taking out tanks and supply vehicles. Eerily eight years to the day the Iraq War started, a whole new international war was beginning. This time in Libya. But can it be termed “just”?
There seems to be a consensus among advocates of the intervention that it is a battle of necessity to save countless lives from the brutality of a dictator. I would certainly count myself as one of the many convinced that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi would “show no mercy” to rebels and protesters by committing murder on a massive scale. And yet,…

March 18th, 2011
The road of return to the Catholic faith

I went to Mass every Sunday with my father throughout my childhood, and even said evening prayers with him until I was a teenager. Then I went to college, and promptly stopped all of it. Sure, when I was home I’d attend regularly but, on my own, my faith — which had never really matured past childhood — was pushed to the side. By the time I arrived at graduate school, I was Catholic in name only.
My early- and mid-20s were a challenge for any glimmer of my remaining faith. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, where my father — who worked in 2 World Trade Center — was lucky to survive, I felt overwhelmed and fell into a depression. Then, two of my close friends attempted suicide and…

March 15th, 2011
A St. Patrick's Day reflection

It’s not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky
But green’s the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful
And I think it’s what I want to be…

When I lived in San Francisco in my twenties, I attended a St. Patrick’s party at a flat in the Mission District, a party hosted by someone I did not know.…

March 15th, 2011
on St. Patrick's Day

You have to hand it to the Irish. Every March 17th, they put on the party of the season. Celtic or not, everybody celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.
I am St. Patrick’s biggest fan. I love how popular piety, overpopulated parades and the free-flow of Guinness mix to form a rare and rowdy sense of universal goodwill. I know folks who can’t stand the commercial crush of the Christmas season, who loathe the anti-climactic hype of New Year’s and the synthetic amoré Hallmark cooks up every February 14th. But I’ve never met a soul who harbored any hostility toward the feast day of Patrick, patron saint of shamrock proliferation.
I have to admit though that St. Paddy’s popularity makes me a bit green with envy.…

March 14th, 2011

Congratulations to all the Busted Halo readers who participated in our annual ash contest last week. This time you… voted for the best, while the editors gave out some special honors for category winners. Thank you to all who participated. The person with the winning photo is receiving a GoBible and we’ll add everyone who sent us a picture to the running for our Lenten contest grand prize, an Apple iPad 2.
And, without further ado, the 2011 Best Ash goes to…

Click the image above to enjoy a slide show of the category winners, or check out all the entries in a Facebook album here; and come back every day to our Fast Pray Give Lent calendar.

March 13th, 2011
Please send Japan your support and prayers

This past week we have all been confronted with images and tragic stories from Japan as a result of the tsunami and earthquake there. It remains clear that untold serious dangers continue to threaten the lives of the victims of this tragedy. Therefore, we at Busted Halo have chosen to postpone our 10 in 10s anniversary fundraising campaign in order to join together with other nonprofits and Catholic agencies to ask for your help in assisting those affected by these natural disasters in Japan.

March 10th, 2011
Busted Halo's Third Annual Ash Wednesday Challenge

It’s a seasonal hazard — you decide to stop by church on Ash Wednesday to get the obligatory ashes on your forehead. You get in line with everybody else. Then you notice people returning to their seats sporting enormous, indeterminate blobs of soot. Your heart sinks as you realize you’re going to go back to work with a gigantic ad on your forehead that might as well say: “Interested in knowing more about Catholicism?” Then you’re at the altar, offering your own forehead as a canvas for an overzealous finger painter…
You did it Busted Halo readers, you showed us your ash!…
Our third annual Ash Wednesday Challenge was a huge success with over 100 ash photos coming in. And

March 3rd, 2011
Why Understanding Your Values Is the First Step to Success

What are your values? And do you live them every day? These may seem like simple questions, but some honest introspection can lead to big changes in your day-to-day choices about work, volunteering, money and relationships.

February 28th, 2011
On the 50th anniversary of the organization, a returned volunteer's reflections

We were halfway through the hour-long walk back from a neighboring township to our village of Thembalethu, South Africa, when the dark, cloudy skies opened up and a torrential downpour fell upon us. We quickened our pace, attempting to flee the onslaught. The dirt road was quickly turning to mud; with each step our feet began sinking deeper into the swampy red earth.

We were only a month into our Peace Corps service at this point, in a strange part of the village where we had never been, and had little idea where to seek shelter. I was with Heather, who was not only the nearest American volunteer to me but would also become my closest friend over the next two years. We looked at each other anxiously, despair seeping into our hearts as we resigned ourselves to walk for the next half hour, though we could barely see 3 feet in front of us. Then, a small lone figure appeared under an umbrella…

February 25th, 2011
A look at the discussion about lying sparked by the Lila Rose videos

An interesting thing has happened because of the debate over Lila Rose’s tactics in going after Planned Parenthood. A serious discussion has erupted across the Catholic blogosphere about the morality of lying. As some of you will remember, I have written two columns here before about lying: “Radical Honesty” about two years ago and, last summer, “Are Affirmations Lying?“
I have enjoyed and been educated by the healthy debate among moral theologians and other deep thinkers, which was kicked up in part by the wonderful article here in Busted Halo…, “Building a Culture of Lie,” by Dawn Eden and William Doino Jr. I am not a theologian, but find the subject fascinating

February 24th, 2011
A universal tale of community, faith and the value of suffering

The first images of the monks’ daily lives in Of Gods and Men… are peaceful ones: They tend to gardens, pour jars of golden honey, and care for the sick who line up beside their clinic. They join in the occasional celebrations and sorrows of their Muslim neighbors. They sing and pray. The monks’ daily tasks seem a perfect balance of action and contemplation, and they perform them with a comforting combination of surety and peace.
It’s easy to assume things will always be this way, but viewers familiar with the real-life story of these French Trappist monks in Algeria during its 1990s civil war will know that this is not the case. The monastery is adjacent to a small Muslim village and an early montage

February 23rd, 2011
Spiritual questions from this year's Oscar-nominated shorts

Murder, sex, war, love and prayer.
The subject matters of five short films you’ll catch glimpses of if you’re tuning in to the Oscars this year, likely awarded around the two-hour mark of the broadcast, sandwiched in there someplace between the sound mixing and visual effects categories. Every year of the last five, my friend and I have ventured out to our local independent film theater, Oscar fever peaking, committing ourselves to three or four hours of watching the nominated short films attempting to give these often overlooked gems the attention they deserve.
This year, I found the live action shorts teeming with spiritual themes, ranging from moral concerns of faith and forgiveness to more…

February 22nd, 2011
An Oscars preview

There is something remarkably innocent and pure about the Academy Awards which draws people back in front of their TV screens year after year — in spite of the inevitable bloated telecast, bad jokes and ridiculous production numbers. At its core, however convoluted the whole procedure might be, the Oscars is about rewarding excellence, and more specifically being rewarded for excellence by a jury of your peers.
While not an official part of the Church’s liturgical calendar, awards season (along with its athletic counterpart the Super Bowl) provides remarkable comfort in the ever-so-ordinary time of Ordinary Time — post-Christmas and pre-Lent. It’s culmination, the Academy…

February 17th, 2011
Wise, tenacious, and fearless self-help

How do I stop procrastinating?
Where do I find a meaningful relationship?
How do I ace a job interview?
What do I do with a roommate who hates me?
And what am I really working toward in my life — what’s my purpose?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 25, then chances are you’ve asked yourself these questions. The last few years have been pretty tough for young adults: The economic downtown means that jobs are harder to find after graduation and all these life-skills and personal questions have become a lot more important.

Should I work at a job I hate just because it pays more than the career I really love?
Is this all there is in life?

Sound familiar? If so, you’re a member of Generation WTF…

February 12th, 2011
The viral uprising of Egypt

The revolution was televised — as well as tweeted, updated and blogged. It began nineteen days ago with the “day of anger“, as thousands of Egyptian protestors, young and old, took to the streets of their country calling for the ouster of the current regime; and culminated yesterday when Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, finally stepped down from office. Revolution had spread through the Middle East, with this uprising falling on the footsteps of those in Tunisia and Yemen — visible instantaneously for public view through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all ablaze with up-to-date news of the protests.
Frustrated with growing unemployment rates and dwindling financial resources,…

February 11th, 2011
Lady Gaga's latest single is an anthem for the marginalized

Lady Gaga’s new single, “Born This Way,” is an anthem for the different. The song offers words of encouragement for everyone on the margins of society, including gay people, members of racial minorities, and even the “broke.” She insists, God makes no mistakes,” and later adds:
Whether life’s disabilities
left you outcast, bullied or teased,
rejoice and love yourself today,
’cause baby, you were born this way.
Gaga is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, whether intentionally or not. Her views on celibacy, personal strength and individuality are certainly laudable; and far more compelling is what she has to say about human nature and human suffering.…

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