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September 14th, 2008

PART 4 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

Part 6: A Memoir,

September 14th, 2008

PART 5 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ …

September 14th, 2008

PART 6 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: Her spiritual memoir “Called out of Darkness” to be published in the fall of 2008. The pain of looking back on her catholic upbringing. Losing her faith at 18. Advice to young seekers. How did her conversion happen? Her regrets. Talking to God.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

Part 6: A Memoir, a “Tragic Mistake,” & a Regret
TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 6: …

September 14th, 2008

PART 7 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: How her son saved her life and the difference between her public image and her day to day life.

View other parts to this series:

TOPICS DISCUSSED in Part 1: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role …

September 14th, 2008

PART 8 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: The Catholic imagination. What is Christian art? Protestant resistance to a novel about Jesus. The long tradition of art and sensuality in Catholicism. The politics of organized religion.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

Part 6: A Memoir, a “Tragic Mistake,” & a Regret
TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 6: Her spiritual memoir “Called out of Darkness” to be published in the fall of 2008. …

September 14th, 2008

PART 9 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

TOPICS DISCUSSED: Her support of Hillary Clinton. On the issue of abortion and being a “committed, old-guard social justice Catholic Democrat” in 2008.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

Part 6: A Memoir, a “Tragic Mistake,” & a Regret
TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 6: Her spiritual memoir “Called out of Darkness” to be published in the fall of 2008. The pain of looking back on her …

September 14th, 2008

PART 10 of the BustedHalo interview with Anne Rice on the release of her second book on the life of Jesus: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana.

Author Anne Rice gives BustedHalo editor-in-chief Bill McGarvey a brief tour of some of the religious art in her home as well as paintings by her late husband Stan Rice.

View other parts to this series:

Part 1: Jesus’ Loneliness & Love & The Da Vinci Code
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who is sinless, celibate and didn’t marry. Is the US a Post-Christian nation?

Part 2: Religious Obsession & The Virgin Mary
TOPICS DISCUSSED: American religiosity, the struggle to write a novel about Jesus that is both compelling and Biblically faithful. The perpetual virginity of Mary. Her theological conservatism and her disagreements with some skeptical critics.

Part 3: Disagreement With & Dependence Upon Scholars
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Controversies surrounding John’s Gospel and her interactions with scripture scholars.

Part 4: Beauty, Artifice, Sensuality & Faith
TOPICS DISCUSSED: Connecting directly with her longtime readers via the web. The continuity between her Vampire books and her Christ the Lord series. Love of beauty, artifice and sensuality in the Vampire Chronicles and her Catholic faith. The Catholic artistic tradition. Being a Christ haunted writer. The Eucharistic symbol of blood in her Vampire books.

Part 5: The Christian Story of Lestat & The Role of Women & Gays

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 5: On the possibility of revisiting Lestat and bringing her vampires into a Christian context. How is her life different since coming back to faith and the Catholic Church? Loving her enemies and neighbors. Christians persecuting other Christians. The role of women and gay people in the Church. Her son Christopher’s activism for gay rights. Homosexuality in Jesus’ day.

Part 6: A Memoir, a “Tragic Mistake,” & a Regret
TOPICS DISCUSSED IN PART 6: Her spiritual memoir “Called out of Darkness” to be published in the fall of 2008. …

September 14th, 2008

In late 2005, novelist Anne Rice stopped by BustedHalo’s® offices in New York to promote her book Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt, the first installment in her planned four-part “autobiography” of Jesus. What was supposed to be a brief interview with the legendary author—who has sold more than 100 million books worldwide—turned into a wide-ranging, hour-long discussion of her career and her re-discovered Catholic faith.

Her second book in the series Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana, picks up Jesus’ life in Nazareth at age 30 just before he begins his public ministry. Like its predecessor, The Road to Cana eschews the lush style that marked Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series for a far more spare prose. There is a simplicity to Rice’s Jesus that will beentirely recognizable to anyone familiar with the Gospels. This is, of course, Rice’s intention.

Though she has filled in details of Jesus’ life that aren’t found in any of the Gospels—including frustrations with his “brothers” in the family’s carpentry trade, and the pressure to take a young woman named Avigail as his wife—Rice’s Christ the Lord books are ultimately deeply devotional works that testify to the strength and scriptural orthodoxy of her faith.

Rice, who is 66 and suffers from diabetes, no longer does promotional book tours. So, with the March 4th release of The Road to Cana the author invited BustedHalo® editor-in-chief, Bill McGarvey to interview her at her home in the desert near Palm Springs, California.

The following video segments are excerpted from an hour-long interview in which Rice once again spoke on a wide variety of subjects ranging from sexuality and the Catholic imagination to the possibility of a Christian Vampire novel and her outspoken support of Hillary Clinton.

The interview is broken into 10 different pieces that BustedHalo® can be seen above.

(Special thanks to Sue Tebbe and Becket Ghioto for all their assistance.)

TOPICS DISCUSSED in Part 1: Discussion of research for the new book. Taking the Bible completely seriously as a writer. Jesus loneliness & love of Avigail. Taking on the DaVinci Code. Trying to write an exciting novel about a character who

September 11th, 2008

At the end of August, an Italian priest was forced to scuttle his plans for an online beauty pageant for nuns, because it had been, in his words, “deliberately misinterpreted.” Father Antonio Rungi, from a town near Naples, noted that he had already received numerous requests from nuns to take part in his “Sister Italia 2008” contest, which was supposed to show off the “chaste, inner beauty” of sisters.

Needless to say, this story was picked up by hundreds of otherwise respectable media outlets.

How come? Because nuns are wacky.

Or, more accurately, pop culture and the mainstream media leads us to believe they are.

Nuns are silly (Sally Field cruising the skies in her modest-but-aerodynamic habit in “The Flying Nun”); clueless (almost everybody in “Sister Act” except lounge-singer-turned-Carmelite-nun Whoopi Goldberg); or repressed (sultry-but-chaste Audrey Hepburn in “The Nun’s Story”). Today when a nun comes on screen—TV, film or Youtube—it’s usually for a cheap laugh. Even books based on the lives of real-life sisters provide much of the same images.

This is pretty surprising when you consider what these supposedly “nutty” sisters have accomplished throughout American history. During times when women were routinely denied opportunities for leadership, sisters founded colleges and universities on a shoestring; ran inner-city schools for vast immigrant populations; and managed far-flung hospital systems for people of all faiths. All this while living together in cramped residences, earning little money, and putting up with those penguin jokes.

In recognition of just a few of their incredible accomplishments, here are three books that take a serious, more accurate look at the lives of those “first feminists.” Hopefully they’ll get you thinking there’s something inspiring about three words you don’t hear too often — poverty, chastity and obedience.

“Today when a nun comes on screen — TV, film or Youtube — it’s usually for a cheap laugh.”

Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen. I know a woman who is never without three copies of this astonishing novel—one for her purse, one for her nightstand, and one to give to someone who hasn’t read it yet. Ron …

September 9th, 2008

On a hot and sticky Sunday morning, pilgrims pour into the crypt of San Salvador Cathedral to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero. Grown men and women approach the tomb on their knees, whispering, “reza por mi” (pray for me). The pious scene may strike visitors as unremarkable for a Catholic country, yet there is deeper significance here: It is an election year, and the pilgrims are predominantly leftists.

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September 8th, 2008

In my last column I shared a letter from Susan, a longtime reader of Pure Sex, Pure Love, who has been dating a man struggling with depression. “How do you deal with a partner who’s dealing with depression? Can you help—and if so, how?” I asked BustedHalo readers to weigh in on this email, and dozens of you responded.

Nearly 60% of respondents said that, like Susan, they have been in a relationship with someone suffering from depression, and 75% of respondents said Susan should continue her relationship. Many offered first-hand advice.

Lynn, 25, has been dating a man with depression for four years, and has dealt with the illness first hand herself. “It makes a relationship 10 times harder. There were nights I would lay with him holding him for hours while he sobbed and cried,” she said. “It takes an emotional toll on you. It helps having supportive people in your life who never say it will be

As the loved one supporting someone with depression, pray for them—and tell them that they are in your thoughts. “Prayer is lifting your heart and mind to God” says Dr. Janus, “and if your heart and mind are laden with sadness and anger and distraction, well that is what you have to give to God at that moment.”

OK but just lend a hand. Hugs are the best medicine.” She also said laughter about something—even little things—each day has helped her get through tough times and make the most of every happy moment.

Her advice for Susan? “Keep communication open and be patient. Getting outside into sunlight helps a lot, too. And find a friend or family member to talk to when things get really difficult.”

I recognized Susan’s question as important, and then to read so many powerful comments as readers shared similar stories and concerns further convinced me that this was a topic on the minds of many young adults. But I’m not a psychologist, so to answer Susan’s questions I reached out to two Catholic experts on depression: …

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September 5th, 2008

Faith, spirituality and religion are too often looked upon as the province of “experts” who spend all their time in places of worship. At BustedHalo.com we frequently hear from readers who desperately want to explore their spiritual questions but feel alienated from traditional faith communities. The fact of the matter is that the experience of sacredness is as unique and personal as our fingerprints, but we sometimes fail to recognize these moments as God’s way of speaking to us in our everyday lives.

“Where’s God?” is our attempt to look more imaginatively at the movement of grace in each of our lives and chronicle the countless different ways God is at work.

September 4th, 2008

Contributing Editor Marc Adams Video Blogs from the RNC and speaks with several young delegates to get their reactions to Gov. Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech.

September 3rd, 2008

Contributing Editor Marc Adams Video Blogs from the RNC and speaks with a young delegate about the mixture of politics and religion.

September 2nd, 2008

While watching Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, my conservative-leaning heart sank a little. “There’s no way,” I thought, “McCain will ever out-charisma this guy. And who’s he going to pick for V.P. that would garner any real coverage or excitement? Pawlenty? Romney? Capable politicians yes, but…(yawn).”

The next day, when Senator McCain named Gov. Sarah Palin as his choice for Vice President I felt kind of giddy.

Real surprises in political campaigns are a rarity. But Sarah Palin is the unexpected plot twist in a movie where you thought you knew everything that was going to happen.

As someone who’s gotten tired of the media’s love affair with Obama (a fact that even Jon Stewart consistently mocks), I loved seeing reporters completely thrown for a loop by this choice. I also appreciated the irony in the Obama campaign’s first reaction being insult and derision. They’re all about healing the politics of division in this country, ya know.

Good Choice
Why do I think Gov. Palin is a good choice? First, she’s solidly pro-life. I’ve read some writers who say that abortion doesn’t matter in this election, but I beg to differ. It’s the first factor I look at in a candidate, and I think many Christians of all denominations feel the same way. I understand we’re not supposed to be one-issue voters, but this is still an important issue especially in light of Obama’s statement at a 2007 Planned Parenthood meeting that he would enact a federal law removing any and all restrictions on abortion when he becomes President.

Gov. Palin’s pro-life beliefs are more than a political ideal. She chose to give birth to her son despite a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. According to a 2007 study in The New York Times, “About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.” So Palin walks the walk.

And now faced with the pregnancy of her …

August 29th, 2008

Contributing Editor Marc Adams Video Blogs from the DNC and speaks with an Arab-American delegate from Democrats Abroad.

August 27th, 2008

Contributing Editor Marc Adams Video Blogs from the DNC and speaks with Politico.com’s Chief political writer Mike Allen.

August 27th, 2008

Uh oh. Summer’s almost over and you haven’t finished Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain like you said were going to? Haven’t gotten around to The Duty of Delight, Dorothy Day’s journals? Never made it through Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Those are all great books, but they’re kind of…long. Merton’s is 496 pages. Day’s is—egad!—700 pages. And B16’s is only 400.

At some point you should definitely read each of those books. But for now, maybe you would do better with a few books that are more, um, pithy. So here are three short books, each of which can be polished off in a few hours.

The first is Cathleen Falsani’s Sin Boldly. It’s terrific. Falsani, a religion reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, is one of the few writers who can bring you to tears and make you laugh on the same page. Her new memoir is a sort of travelogue of grace, and her trip leads her from the very familiar (her family life, her work, her cat) to the very unfamiliar. Her voyage through East Africa is especially powerful and will deepen your appreciation for that fascinating continent.

“Falsani is one of the few writers who can bring you to tears and make you laugh on the same page.”

“Justice is getting what you deserve,” Falsani writes, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.” You deserve to read this wonderful new book, which, by the way, has a beautiful cover taken from one of Falsani’s African photos. Sometimes you can judge a book that way.

Jeremy Langford is another Chicagoland writer who’s penned another kind of field guide—to the question of how to live a spiritual life in the modern world. It’s called Seeds of Faith. Through homey examples from his own life, well-grounded reflections on the Catholic tradition and artfully told stories from the lives of the saints and spiritual masters, …

August 25th, 2008

“Does God really care if we gained ten pounds over the holidays? Yes!” announces The Dieter’s Prayer Book.
“If you’ve struggled with obesity all of your life, you may not even be able to imagine yourself free of the bondage of unwanted fat. But God can,” promises The Bible Cure for Weight Loss and Muscle Gain.

As part of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship to study the intersection of science and religion, I explored the world of religious diet books. Surprised that such books exist? So are many Catholics, but religious weight-loss and health initiatives that began among evangelical Christians are spreading to other denominations—and other faiths—as Americans continue to put on the pounds.

Worshipping the God of Food?
Gwen Shamblin, author of the Weigh Down Diet, and the grand dame of the Christian weight loss movement since the 1980s, says obesity wounds more than your body—it destroys your soul.

“We’re worshipping the false god of food,” Shamblin says in her online video guide for weight loss. “We have worshiped food and elevated it to a place of unprecedented power in our lives… Our hearts have been devoted to figuring out what the latest fad diet will or will not let us eat” and that has distracted us from a healthy relationship with our creator, she says. Her solution? Pray before you eat so you consume less, and the pounds will come off.

Other religious diet authors claim that eating a specific, fiber-rich, organic diet will bring you closer to God and to a healthy weight. Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet, says dozens of doctors were unable to reverse his Crohn’s disease, but when he turned to God, prayer and the basic foods that Jesus would have eaten 2000 years ago, he was cured.

Big Belly = Little Faith?

Most Christian diet books argue that by exerting individual self-control—with the help of prayer and God’s grace—you can lose weight. The underlying message is that if you are heavy you are failing in some way, and not as faithful or devoted to God as you …

August 23rd, 2008

In the early 1980s, when Jerry Kellman interviewed a young, idealistic Ivy League graduate for a $10,000 a year job with Chicago’s Developing Communities Project (DCP) he had no way of knowing it would be a meeting that would follow him for the rest of his life. Now, nearly 25 years later, he is frequently asked to speak about Barack Obama’s tenure as a community organizer and how it shaped the candidate’s sense of himself and the world. What many people miss, however, is how both men’s sense of faith has fundamentally altered the way they see the world.

While Obama and Kellman eventually moved on from DCP—each because they felt that community organizing was not effective enough to solve major domestic problems—they both continue to work for justice in their own, unique ways. Kellman, who was raised Jewish, had a conversion experience and is now the Director of Spiritual Formation for several parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. In this role Kellman—who was the basis for the character “Marty” in Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father—leads small group parish missions, weekend retreats and discussions with participants about areas they have struggled in their life.

Kellman recently spoke with Busted Halo® about his experiences with Obama and his own evolution as an activist and believer.

BustedHalo®: You’ve received some attention as one of Barack Obama’s mentors since you hired him as a young man for Chicago’s Developing Communities Project. Are you surprised with his fast rise through politics and his run for President?

Jerry Kellman: I’m not surprised that people respond to Barack. He’s carried himself with integrity and he has had the discipline to be successful in his political career.

BH: What did Obama learn from you and DCP during his tenure there?

JK: He didn’t learn from me, he learned from the experience. Barack came in idealistic, but the streets of Chicago made him practical and realistic in a way he had not been. He learned he liked working with people in the …

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