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May 10th, 2010
A father's challenge to the head of the US Bishops over the sex abuse scandal continues to resonate

When I met David Spotanski at a conference on leadership in the Catholic Church in 2007, my first impression of the Belleville, Ill., native was that he was like so many of the Midwesterners whom I’ve known and worked with over the years: friendly, approachable, and not in the habit of taking himself too seriously. The fact that, as a layman, Spotanski also happened to be the chancellor for the Belleville diocese — just outside of St. Louis — for all matters except canonical issues requiring a priest seemed a little unusual. But after a number of conversations over the course of the gathering it became clear to me that if this married father of three was indicative of the sort of leadership in the Catholic…

May 6th, 2010
A video interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer on The Busted Halo Show

One of the strongest proponents for comprehensive immigration reform in the Catholic Church over the last quarter century has been Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles.  Busted Halo’s Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, had the chance to speak with Cardinal Mahony while The Busted Halo Show… on Sirius XM radio was broadcasting on location in L.A. in March 2010.

As archbishop of the largest Catholic diocese in the U.S. for 25 years, Cardinal Mahony has presided over some very significant milestones, and has also seen his fair share of controversy. And yet, his work with and for migrants has become the hallmark of Cardinal Mahony’s time as bishop. It was this topic that he was most passionate about

May 6th, 2010
My Identity, My Culture, My Faith

I guess I wasn’t all that different from most college freshman who get swept off their feet. Every year, scores of first-year collegians return home for Christmas break itching to try out all of their newfound wisdom on the folks back home: psychology majors suddenly become experts in diagnosing their families’ dysfunction, philosophy majors proselytize about existentialism with a new convert’s zeal. 
After finishing my first semester as a theology major at Notre Dame I returned home to my Mexican-American family in El Paso, Texas, poised and ready to judge the religiosity and spirituality of any relative I came into contact with.  Armed with words like hermeneutics, eschatology and praxis,…

May 4th, 2010
In search of the humanity behind the immigration debate

Recent passage of new legislation in Arizona has brought the divisive issue of immigration to the forefront of the national consciousness once again. This latest salvo comes on the one-year anniversary of the debut of our Busted Borders video series, in which BustedHalo.com — along with the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation — began covering the issue of immigration in a unique way.
Busted Borders is an attempt to use the web’s unfiltered nature to move the immigration debate away from abstractions and statistics to reveal the deeply human dimension of the issue. Instead of contributing to the glut of coverage about immigration, Busted Halo decided to feature stories by immigrants…

May 3rd, 2010
More on deciphering the meaning of who pays on dates

If a woman insists on paying for her $3 coffee when she’s on a first date with a guy, does that mean she’s probably not that into him? Longtime Busted Halo reader, Phil, wrote in with that question a few weeks back — read the original piece here — and you replied with some great comments:
“The reciprocity heuristic is pretty hard-wired into most people… [and] for a dating female, the stakes are higher,” counsels Karen. “I pay my own way, and find ways to get to know you to see how I like you. By the way, I work to stay even on a gesture-for-gesture basis, not strictly dollar-for-dollar. So: you get the movie tickets, I’ll get the popcorn and soda. Please, please do not be…

April 30th, 2010

Now you can have fresh customized daily content for your website or blog by including one of our BustedHalo® widgets on your site. Every day new stories, essays, columnists, video features, bloggers, the Googling God question of the day and our Daily Jolt can be yours to offer your readers. Your site will have something new for your visitors to come back for that will challenge, intrigue, inform and inspire them whenever they visit. Click through to the widget page to find out more……

April 28th, 2010
"Clinging to hope"

In this episode, Benita talks about her hopes and dreams for attending law school.
In episode one, Benita discusses her background and the difficulties she faced growing up.
In episode two, Benita describes how a routine traffic stop has turned her life upside down.
In episode three, Benita talks about the story of Esther and God’s plan.…

April 26th, 2010
Helping others see the horrors of human trafficking

When Anthony Dodero and two of his church friends decided to quit their jobs and head out to Thailand, it wasn’t a thrill ride they were looking for, but the truth about a very horrific modern-day crime — human trafficking.
It is estimated by the United Nations that at least… 1.3 million young girls and women are sold into sex slavery worldwide. When Anthony read about this issue, he wanted to see it for himself, so he and his two best friends, Liem and Chad, set out to investigate, documenting the trip along the way. They called it The Blind Project.
“We called it The Blind Project because we were very blinded to the issue, and were hoping this trip would ‘unblind’ us,” Anthony said

April 23rd, 2010
Real life super heroes on the streets of NYC

They call me the “Comic Book Rabbi.” Given the chance to choose my own “superhero” nickname, I’d have picked something more dynamic, like “Super Jew” or simply “The Rabbi.” (Imagine The Thing, but with a kippah.) I come by my humble nickname honestly, though. My first book was called, Up Up and Oy Vey : How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero…. Not surprisingly, I quickly came to be seen as an expert about the Jewish influence on American popular culture.
Most of the time, I study these matters at arm’s length — literally, with a well-thumbed issue of the Fantastic Four circa 1964 in hand. However, I confess (and

April 22nd, 2010
An Earth Day reflection on the link between environmentalism and faith

One of the first and key places I encountered the spiritual ideas that eventually led to my baptism was Estes Park, high in the Rockies, amidst Birkenstock-wearing radical environmentalists. It was an interesting time for politics in the late 80s and early 90s and I was looking for new ideas. So were lots of people, and they were talking with each other and reading each other’s books despite divergent backgrounds. Some were grassroots activists, some academics; some were pragmatic, some utopian. There were communitarians and Greens, libertarians and socialists.
I came upon something new (to me) there, something I’d never heard of before with my atheist/Protestant upbringing: natural law.…

April 21st, 2010
A message for those feeling the weight of the ongoing crisis in the Church

The following reflection was adapted from a homily given on the second Sunday of Easter April 11, 2009.…
Last Sunday there were around 3,000 people in our church to celebrate Easter. My question a week later is, “Where did they all go?” It’s too easy to simply say that the 2000 people who did not return a week later and may not return again until Christmas are “Christmas and Easter Catholics.” Is a once-or-twice visit to Church enough to satisfy one’s spiritual or ritual needs, that someone can say, “That’s enough for me”?
As a parish that tries very hard to create an environment of inclusion and acceptance where faith and beauty are interwoven, we can ask

April 20th, 2010
Busted Halo contests keep on giving

We know, we know, it’s been a couple weeks. Lent has passed, Easter is here, and we never formally announced the end of our Fast Pray Give contest or its winner. Ok, we’re sorry. We certainly didn’t intend for this to slip through the cracks but in the midst of covering everything else going on in the world of spiritual seekers it unfortunately did. (We ARE proud to note, however, that we actually picked the grand prize winner and sent the prize out right on time…we just forgot to tell the rest of you.)
So finally, at long last…
Congratulations to the Grand Prize winner, Kim Dousette of Hopkinsville, KY, who received an Easter Basket with a custom Fast Pray Give Flip Video Camera, candy, books,…

April 20th, 2010
Pulling Together After a Missed Teachable Moment

Gratitude and gloom colored my view of the debate over health care reform.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, I learned that my chronic leukemia had morphed into a much more formidable lymphoma. It was not, statistically speaking, the cancer one would choose, especially as a husband and a father with two teenaged sons and a 20-year-old daughter. But I had sound health insurance, which allowed me the best treatment at one of the nation’s best hospitals. I was, therefore, especially grateful when reminded about the tens of millions of other Americans who lack medical insurance altogether.
The gloom descended when legislative dynamics seemed to pit the demands of Social Justice against the rights of the Unborn.…

April 19th, 2010
Women aren't the only ones wondering whether their date is really "into" them

I recently received this note from long-time Pure Sex, Pure Love reader, Phil, a 26-year-old in Iowa. In a previous column, I’d suggested to readers that simple body language is a good way to tell if someone is interested in you. Phil took that test to the next level and asked: If a woman refuses to let me pay for her coffee on a first date, is she sending me a signal that she’s not interested?
Hi Dr. Whelan,
I think that I have found a variant of the salt shaker test. As you have written in your column, that is when you are on a first date and you put a salt shaker (or something like that) on your date’s side of the table. From what I recall, how they react is suppose to indicate whether they are into you.
If they…

April 15th, 2010
The former Pedro the Lion leader talks about reactions to recent work and his current take on faith and his role as an artist

Last week, we published a piece by Matt Fink about former Pedro the Lion leader David Bazan’s career and latest album. After a four-year hiatus following struggles with alcoholism and his faith — including being kicked off the main stage of a major Christian music festival — Bazan returned in 2009 with a new autobiographical and starkly agnostic album.
In the following interview, Fink talks with Bazan about his return to the Cornerstone Festival last summer, the latest album, the reactions to recent work, and his current take on faith and his role as an artist.

Busted Halo: I saw that you went back and played Cornerstone this year. What was that like?
David Bazan:… It was actually great. I had said

April 13th, 2010
The world's last three Shakers stand strong, proud and hopeful

Strolling along a quiet farm road, flanked by 19th-century white clapboard buildings, Frances Carr is an endangered species in a threatened habitat.
She is one of the world’s last Shakers, a member of a pious separatist community that boasted 6,000 members and 19 settlements in the 1800s. But today only three believers remain at the last active settlement, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, nestled in a wooded, lake-fringed and white pine-perfumed swath of southern Maine.
Though she rarely grants interviews, the oldest living Shaker speaks now.
Easing her cushioned frame onto an antique bench in the waiting room of the 125-year-old brick Dwelling House, the soft-faced Carr, 82, tenderly sings an old…

April 13th, 2010
My visit to Mumbai's red light district

So this is where my work for Catholic Relief Services had led me: to a brothel. I was in the middle of a red light district in the go-go city of Mumbai on India’s west coast. The social worker we were with strolled casually into a shed-like doorway and starting chatting with one of the women. I stood tensely, aware that in the metal cubby right behind me a young woman in a spangled sari was sleeping soundly.

It was midday and there was no “activity” going on. But the tiny, sardine-tin brothel — its walls painted an incongruous robin’s egg blue — was appalling enough. Each woman slept and worked in a metal room that was perhaps eight feet by six feet, far smaller than walk-in closets I’ve seen in America. A footlocker was on a shelf above the narrow plank-like bed. Sometimes, my guide told me, the women’s children were kept under the bed at night — occasionally drugged so as not to make noise that would disturb clients.

When the social worker — a Catholic Relief Services partner — walks through this neighborhood, she’s focused on how to get the women’s kids in school. She’d seen it all. I hadn’t. It was unnerving to think how many women were in the brothels that honeycombed these alleys.

Worst of all was thinking how many were there against their will. My guides and I walked out of the brothel quietly — it seemed easy enough. A few children and older women on the side street stared at us. We kept on for a few blocks until we reached our car.

Hundreds of young women can’t walk away. “There are henchmen hanging around to catch any prostitute who tries to escape,” says Priti Patkar matter-of-factly. For twenty-five years, Priti and her husband have worked to save the thousands of teenage girls who are brought to the red-light district under duress, often tricked by acquaintances or even family members. The girls are held for years, working as unpaid prostitutes to make money for owners who buy and sell them. The Patkars head up Prerana — “Inspiration” — a CRS partner that helps girls who are rescued.

April 12th, 2010

The following post is a continuation of Busted Halo’s coverage of the 2010 South By Southwest festival.…
Is being a faithful person a lot like being a slacker? And if so, where does that leave the faithful in life? A new indie film, “The Happy Poet,” made me wonder. This charming little story debuted at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, and I’ve been mulling it ever since.

Because the movie was shot to simple effect in my much-loved city of Austin, it was especially easy to imagine this scenario playing out in real life: Young guy, out of work but needing to make some sort of living, buys a food cart and sets it up in a park. He puts his heart into it, tenderly hand-making and

April 12th, 2010
What Works columnist Phil Fox Rose is interviewed about being on time on NET TV and responds to reader comments

Recently, I was interviewed for the show Currents on the NET TV network about the spirituality of being on time. Watch the video right here on this page; I’ve queued it up to my segment in the show. So that seems like a good enough reason to revisit my column, “Being On Time.” I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) when this became one of the most popular What Works columns.

It was a delight to do the interview with Nathalia Ortiz, and to see the co-anchors discussing the subject with her afterwards. Their comments, her questions to me, and the popularity of this column all underscore that so many of us struggle with being on time, and we want help!

Much of the feedback has been about realizing you are bothering others. So let me focus a little more sharply on the issue of selfishness. But before I do, let me stress that I’m not encouraging you to beat up on yourself. We are all selfish a lot of the time. What I’m encouraging is greater awareness.

Selfishness can take several forms. Many people who are late have a mixture of them.

Self-seeking is when you choose your own gain over the interests of others. It’s self-seeking behavior to maximize the productivity or convenience of your own time at the expense of other people’s schedules. Doctors, for example, do this on purpose, because their time has so much monetary value, and, well, they don’t care about yours — and, as with the chronically late, typically they get more and more behind schedule as the day progresses. (If you haven’t already figured this out, book doctor’s appointments in the morning, when they still might be close to their schedule.)

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