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December 9th, 2009
A forgotten incident in the life of St. Francis speaks volumes today

As the former city editor and senior religion writer for Newsday, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Paul Moses is well aware of what it takes to get the facts right on an important story. But when the story you’re researching is 800 years old, things can get pretty complicated. In the wake of September 11, Moses discovered a little-known episode in St. Francis of Assissi’s life in which he attempted to end the crusades by crossing enemy lines to gain an audience with the Sultan of Egypt.
In The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace…, Moses — now a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate School —

December 8th, 2009
'New Jew' Patrick Aleph is reclaiming righteousness by creating his own Jewish genre

Patrick Aleph, lead singer of punk band Can Can, has started an oh-so-needed movement in the Jewish community called Punk Torah . Punk Torah is not necessarily about music, Patrick explains, but it is about rebelling — rebuilding and reapproaching the way Judaism is being done. “If I punk the Torah, it’s not that I’m punking a holy book. It’s that I’m punking a certain way of looking at the book which is inflexible and what drives people away from it,” he said.
Patrick considers himself an observant Jew, but also lives what he believes to be a very progressive life. He gets asked often how he balances being in a punk band with Judaism. His says he doesn’t have to because…

December 7th, 2009
Researchers try to reveal beauty and humanity on the web

Sep Kamvar

Feel festive, cheerful and blessed around Christmas — but then slide into the doldrums in the first weeks of the New Year? Financially illiterate — and then suddenly started blogging about how the ups and downs of the stock market impacted you emotionally? Felt patriotic — or depressed — when Obama was elected? The internet knows.

Talk about following the zeitgeist: Computer programmers Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris have spent more than four years collecting some 12 million emotions posted on internet blogs. Turns out we’re a pretty predictable bunch: Patterns of the calendar, news events and even the weather influence how we say we feel. And as an increasing number of bloggers worldwide share their lives publicly, we’re developing a new relationship with computers, our fellow bloggers and ourselves.

And this Christmas season, you can track your emotions in their strikingly beautiful, glossy gift book, We Feel Fine (Scribner), that uses sophisticated computer science to underpin its findings about modern human emotion. The brainchild of Kamvar, a professor of computational mathematics at Stanford University, and Harris, a systems designer, the program scans scans all blogs every few minutes and extracts the sentences that contain “I feel” or “I am feeling.” Since blogs often have public profiles, the duo was able to determine the gender, age, and location of the people expressing these emotions, to boot.

Which makes it particularly cool for young adults — and spiritual seekers. You can find out what people your age and faith background are thinking. Who is more likely to feel blessed? What states are most likely to have bloggers talking about religion? It’s all in there — in a really pretty layout that will make you want to flip through the pages time and again.

December 2nd, 2009
A sneak attack on my conscience while at the mall

There was something very Miracle on 34th Street… about Peoria’s new mall. Opening just before the holidays, the “open-air lifestyle center” promised to recreate the feel of shopping downtown. Separate strips of stores, like city blocks, angled about a plaza and a kids’ play park. Department store anchors mixed with eateries and boutiques, selling everything from three-piece suits to little girls’ camis, from bone china to Corelle ware, from gourmet coffee to chili dogs. You could even come out at night for dinner and a movie. Just like downtown.
I was visiting family after living five years in a small town in Louisiana, where I learned what downtown is. Downtown is Bertrand’s

December 1st, 2009
Can you spare three minutes to truly make a difference?

Consider this your invitation to join thousands of students already participating in American Idol for charities. It’ll take just a few minutes to vote, it’s absolutely free and it’s just a few mouse-clicks away to help save lives.
A close friend of mine, Dr. Patrick Lee, has dedicated his professional life to providing healthcare services and fundamental rights to the poor in developing nations. Currently, he serves as the Director of Chronic Diseases for Tiyatien Health in Liberia.
After two decades of civil war, more than 40 percent of Liberians suffer from major depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to 5 percent suffer from epilepsy. This fall, he and his organization…

November 30th, 2009
The spiritual value of not running late

This is one I still struggle with. A lot. I’m in no way an expert in getting places on time. But I’m much better than I used to be. And the reason I’ve improved is that I’ve come to understand more and more how it’s not just about time management. If you’re a chronically late person, it can carry behind it a lot of other issues — disrespect, dishonesty, creating chaos, self-centeredness, to name a few — and it bothers other people more than you realize.
There are so many reasons to be on time. The most obvious is that running late is stressful. It adds to the anxiety in your life with no change in outcome. Whether you’re early, just in time, or late, once you’re…

November 25th, 2009
Busted Halo's 2009 Advent Surprise Calendar

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Grand Prize Winner! Meg M. from Washington DC
Congratulations to Meg for winning the customized iPod Nano Grand Prize! Many thanks for the thousands of entries we’ve received over the course of Advent. We hope you’ve enjoyed following our “What Are You Waiting For?” calendar and that it has added some joy and mindfulness–as well as the inspiration to take action–during this holiday season. Our Advent Calendar might be done on Christmas day but the feature it grew out of–our Daily Jolt–continues, so make sure you stop by everyday for the Daily…

November 25th, 2009
One believer puts aside his childhood religion

I was just a child when I first began learning about Christianity in my hometown in North Carolina, but I was soon faced with a powerful choice: Would I accept Jesus Christ into my heart as my own personal savior?
It is the single most powerful question a Christian can ask a person. If you say yes, you get into Heaven after you die. It is that simple: you have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he took flesh, that he sacrificed himself for the rest of us, that he was crucified for the rest of us, that he died so that our sins would be absolved. You have to believe that he rose from the dead, and that he is going to return. You also have to believe that if you don’t believe, if you don’t accept Jesus Christ…

November 19th, 2009
Professor James Fisher, author of On the Irish Waterfront

With a shock of sandy blonde hair that perpetually seems to be on the verge of revolt and a conversation style that is best described as a benign form of rapid-fire free association, it’s easy to picture Professor Jim Fisher, 52, as the young taxicab driving college dropout living in Hoboken, N.J., that he once was in the late 1970s. This was during the difficult period after Hoboken’s once flourishing port had moved a few miles south to Newark and Elizabeth, and long before gentrification turned Hoboken into New York City’s unofficial sixth borough in the 80s and 90s. When Fisher resided there it was just another struggling post-industrial city living on past glories that amounted to two trivia…

November 17th, 2009
"This is music that I've created."

In this video, Walter talks about his love for creating music.
In video 4, Walter talks about how soccer has helped him cope with his immigration issues.
In video 3, Walter talks about the difficulties of facing an uncertain future.
In video 2, Walter talks more about how he did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.
In video 1, Walter explains how he was caught by ICE and detained for twenty day.…

November 17th, 2009
A young Jewish woman in NYC asks herself tough questions about religion and spirituality

In Rendezvous with G-d, twentysomething blogger and journalist Monica Rozenfeld explores what it actually means as a young Jewish woman in New York City to have a relationship with G-d.
From sitting at dinner tables with the ultra-Orthodox, non-believers and everything in-between, Monica asks herself tough questions about religion and spirituality. What does it mean? Does it matter? And where can I find some?
In her new blog Rozenfeld explores the issues of faith, religion and spirituality, and invites readers on her Jewish journey to the random places she meets G-d.
Starting now, you can find this new Busted Blog at bustedhalo.com/rendezvouswithg-d, and on the Busted Halo homepage. …

November 13th, 2009
The Sound of Music at 50

For Christmas one year, when I was in high school, my grandpa gave me the video of The Sound of Music. I was thrilled: my favorite movie, the one I’d loved since childhood, was mine to watch at will.
My cousin Mark, in his early twenties at the time, regarded my new tape with good-natured disdain. “That’s such a corny movie,” he said.
I froze in horror. “It is not… corny!” I answered vehemently. Not my finest comeback, but outrage was making me inarticulate. We went a few rounds. Neither of us conceded any turf, so we left it at that. It was Christmas, after all.
But here’s the thing: in some deep secret part of myself, I knew that Mark was right. And now, twenty years later, I will

November 11th, 2009
"Soccer is a way to escape."

In this video, Walter talks about how soccer has helped him cope with his immigration issues.
In video 3, Walter talks about the difficulties of facing an uncertain future.
In video 2, Walter talks more about how he did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.
In video 1, Walter explains how he was caught by ICE and detained for twenty day.…

November 9th, 2009
A reluctant Catholic goes to seminary

As a Paulist seminarian Tom Gibbons has spent the past three years immersed in the academic study required of any man who will be ordained a Roman Catholic priest. During that time, Gibbons has written a lot about the experience, and his new blog, Kicking and Screaming… is an intimate look at the questions and doubts he’s struggled with over the past few years while studying for the priesthood, as well some of the answers he’s come up with along the way.
Now at the halfway point in his formation process, Tom’s blog will also be a window into what his life is like now that he’s outside the seminary classrooms doing hands-on ministry work at a parish in Austin, Texas. Gibbons’ blend of honesty

November 9th, 2009
What exactly does it mean and how is it affecting young adults' behavior

As a young professor at a big university, I’m able to talk to my students about rather personal issues like hooking up, relationships and sex. In one class, I asked students to diagram, on a large whiteboard, the evolution of a relationship — from first meeting to marriage. This was a fascinating exercise, and highlighted one key challenge in the dating game for young adults: “Hook-ups” are very common, but no group of college students can agree on exactly what the term means.
Studies tell us that more than half of college relationships begin with a hook-up. Translation: Before two college students have a dinner date, a meaningful conversation or even exchange phone numbers, there’s…

November 4th, 2009
A follow-up as the debate enters its final stage

Thousands of you read, responded to and shared my August piece about the health care debate and Catholicism. We are now in the final phase of the Congressional process and some things are clearer than they were then. Catholic Church leaders wanted undocumented immigrants included in the bill. They are not. Sadly, the Church stands almost alone among organizations in this country in its concern for the undocumented. They wanted universal coverage, and to the surprise of many, it looks like it will happen.
But, though the House bill does not fund or encourage abortion services, the bishops and most Catholics wanted specific language keeping abortion out of the bill entirely, and making it impossible for a future…

November 3rd, 2009
After 500 years, St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises continue to transform lives

If you were able to conduct a free association exercise among Catholics, the term “Jesuit” would most likely evoke responses like “educators,” “intelligent,” “worldly” and perhaps even “liberal.” But as the largest male religious order in the Catholic church, the Society of Jesus—as the Jesuits are officially known—has nearly 20,000 members spread out across 112 nations around the globe who are involved in an endless variety of work ranging from education and pastoral ministry to medicine, the law, social justice etc. The one common bond that ties this diverse international group together however is their experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Formulated…

November 3rd, 2009
"My family has been trying to fix the issue."

In this video, Walter talks about the difficulties of facing an uncertain future.
In video 2, Walter talks more about how he did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.
In video 1, Walter explains how he was caught by ICE and detained for twenty day.…

November 2nd, 2009
An unassuming little tool in my spiritual first aid kit that can have a big impact

I want to share with you a little method with a big impact: the Welcoming Prayer. This unassuming little method has helped me many times. What’s your first impulse when you have a “bad” feeling? If you’re like me, it’s usually to suppress it. But we all know that doesn’t work. What you focus on sticks around. This is one of the big lessons you learn through meditation. If you try to suppress a thought, it becomes your entire focus. Worse than before.
But while a regular meditation practice can inculcate a balanced relationship with your feelings and emotions, with the serenity that comes from that, sometimes you need help now, in the field. You can’t exactly sit down on…

October 30th, 2009
Southern Pagans peek out of the broom closet

Tom Cornwell had a secret stashed in the ottoman of his Savannah, Georgia, home. A former Jehovah’s Witness elder and minister for 20 years, he worshipped the Egyptian goddess Isis. Cornwell, 62, thought his secret was safe — until his devout Jehovah’s Witness wife announced she’d found his cache of witchcraft books.
Cornwell (not his real name) came out of the pagan closet to her that night, and says she took it better than expected. “I think the Goddess was watching over me,” he says.
A year later, he studies with a Wiccan coven and is a member of Savannah Pagan Meetup. Cornwell, who still hasn’t come out publicly about his beliefs, says he joins a growing number of pagans…

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