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January 3rd, 2008
Our intrepid reporter gets a birdseye look at the Iowa Caucus experience

I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker. I don’t make eye contact with strangers as I walk down the street. I lived in the same apartment building for decades, and couldn’t tell you my neighbors’ names. And when it came to voting, I’d usually cast an absentee ballot, in the privacy of my own home, and then refuse to disclose my vote to even my closest friends (and never to my parents).
This year, for reasons unfathomable to many of my city-slicker friends, I left New York City and moved to Iowa City. And all of a sudden, my life has become public…. Folks stop and say hi to me on the street, my neighbors organized a block party to welcome my husband and I, and tonight I’m going to stand in the cafeteria

January 2nd, 2008
Many LDS members hope Mitt Romney's candidacy will shatter stereotypes

What does it take to shatter a stereotype? Advertising executives have their own recipe: cook up a snappy creative campaign, stir in a few press releases, serve in major media centers. This may work for consumer products, but changing the popular perception of a cultural or religious group is a social study of enormous proportions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently engaged in this decades-long process.
With the media coverage of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, all of America is witnessing or participating in the Church’s struggle. Mormons themselves of course hope that one man—one presidential candidate—can change the way the nation perceives…

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 27th, 2007
Saturdays with Scooter

The phone rang at WFAN’s studio. I answered it with my usual, “FAN Sports -Mike Hayes.”
The voice on the other end said, “Um yes is Mr Catallano there?”
“Sorry there’s nobody here by that name. What company are you trying to reach?”
“Wait lemme see…oh Holy Cow, I loused that number up completely.”
It was then that I recognized the voice. “Scooter?”
Yeah who’s this?
Mr. Rizzuto it’s Mike Hayes, we’ve met a few times at the Stadium. You called WFAN Radio not whoever you tried to reach.
“Oh Holy Cow Mike, I’m sorry. I’m trying to kill time at the airport and it’s too early to drink so…

December 27th, 2007
Rearranging my sense of the world

David Halberstam I will miss. Our relationships with writers tell us much about ourselves. As the young teacher and former student of C. S. Lewis says in Shadowlands, “We read to know we are not alone.” I feel more alone, and my world is a lesser place, without David Halberstam.
Some writers we like a lot. I’ve read most of Stephen King’s stories, and his On Writing is well worth any writer’s extensive study. Bag of Bones is one of the great stories about a writer (even if John Irving’s The World According to Garp is so much deeper and darker). Most of what King writes is addictively entertaining. Lots of long, late nights: Cujo. Misery. The Stand…. And if I could take only one DVD

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 19th, 2007
A Thank You… and an Appeal

I pray that your 2007 has been a blessed and fruitful one, and that your spiritual journey has drawn you closer to God and a community of faith. For us here at Busted Halo®, it’s been a year chock full of new adventures. In addition to the top-notch articles, interviews and spiritual reflections published here on the site, many of which you no doubt enjoyed (the “Best Of” which will be highlighted next week), other areas of outreach under the Busted Halo® umbrella have also taken off.
The spiritual items available at our Halo Store have nearly doubled. “Busted Video” made its debut through the magic of YouTube. We launched a line of books for spiritual seekers in their 20s…

December 18th, 2007
A Modern Pagan Talks about Solstice, Christmas and the Spiritual Search

“I hope I’ll get it as a gift for Solstice,” said Andrea Bunch at a recent party when talking about a bottle of wine she had laid eyes on. Solstice is December 21st, the shortest day of light in the year and it is celebrated by Pagans and NeoPagans around the world. Andrea, 31, is a teacher in Chicago, an accomplished musician with two albums, and a NeoPagan. Before you start thinking only about broomsticks and the Salem Witch Trials, think again; our interview with Bunch answers everything you ever wanted to know about Pagan spirituality but were afraid to ask.
BustedHalo: Were you raised with a particular faith or religion?…
Andrea Bunch: Not specifically, but [my family] went to a Unitarian church.

December 17th, 2007
Why The First Christmas is not like any Nativity story you've ever heard before

Two years ago, biblical scholars John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg published The Last Week, a fascinating day-by-day account, based on Mark’s gospel, of how Jesus spent his final week in Jerusalem. Now, they’ve teamed up again to explore the beginning of Jesus’ life, unraveling what the news of his birth meant 2,000 years ago, so we can better understand its significance today.
In The First Christmas…, Crossan and Borg argue that the nativity story is far richer and more challenging than familiar sentimentalized versions allow. Not simply tidings of comfort and joy, the gospel stories of Jesus’ birth are also edgy visions of another way of life, confronting the status quo and demanding

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 11th, 2007
A young Mormon woman reflects on Mitt Romney’s recent speech on religion and politics

The Wall Street Journal called it “laudable.” The New York Times… called it “tragic.” So what do I think of Mitt Romney’s speech about religion in America last Thursday? As a Yale-educated Mormon woman raised in New York City, I might be expected to think something sophisticated and grand, like “historical” or “inspirational.” My word is actually quite simple: Relieving.
I’ve always trusted that Mitt Romney is a good man. As a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints in the same area where Romney himself goes to church, I’ve been privy to personal testimonials of his character and closeness to God. But his posing as the socially conservative

December 10th, 2007
Fattily Ever After

Call it the “honeymoon handles” or “love blubber”: New studies find that newlyweds are more likely to report weight-gain than those who stay single.
Professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined longitudinal data from nearly 8,000 men and women-following these men and women from teenagers through their young-adult years. Prof. Natalie The and Prof. Penny Gordon-Larsen wrote, “The results suggest that sharing a household environment with a romantic partner may predispose individuals to become at risk for obesity and obesity-promoting behaviors.” This follows a study from a few years ago that showed that both men and women report average…

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

December 6th, 2007
Reflections on God from a Spiritual Odd Couple

The Faith Between Us, by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, is the story of a failed Jewish mystic and a would-be Catholic priest who meet and become friends while searching for the meaning of God. The book’s range is broad, encompassing rock-and-roll, drug addiction, cancer, sex, veganism, marriage and family, but it always comes back to the same small group of inescapable, maddening questions. What is faith? What is belief? What is holiness? What is love? Bebergal and Korb are a kind of spiritual Odd Couple, separated by religion and life experience but bound together by a thirst for God and a deep trust in one another. The book they have written is funny, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, unsparingly honest…

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