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June 13th, 2007
A recent trip to Turkey reveals some surprises about Islam and politics

Current events in a country bridging Europe and Asia are offering an important object lesson about the Muslim world: it is not monolithic, and there are significant forces for religious pluralism and democracy within it.
The country is Turkey, at one and the same time a candidate for the European Union (EU) and the source of much of the water in the Middle East; larger in population than any EU country, and with the second largest military in NATO after the United States.
From May 7-15 I had the opportunity to travel with an interfaith group of 16 people from the fields of government, education, health care, religion, journalism and the arts to several cities within Turkey on visits to schools, mosques, cultural institutions,…

June 12th, 2007
Surviving your Catholic Wedding

Pop quiz: May a Catholic couple get married on the beach? May the bride boogie down the aisle to a modern tune?
Bemused? Things are changing fast in the wedding business.
From 1857 to 1957 American weddings would have looked fairly similar: Most couples got married with family and a few friends present, followed by a nice lunch afterward; grand weddings were reserved for the wealthy elite. But starting in the 1960s—and then really picking up steam in the 1980s—the wedding industry took on a life of its own. From rings to registries, videographers to wedding planners and welcome baskets to party favors, getting married is a $161 billion industry. Engaged couples, priests and wedding guests are struggling…

June 11th, 2007

It is now graduation season with many students going through a major life transition. How do you handle life’s major transitions?…

June 6th, 2007
Why it would be a sin not to include dinosaurs in illustrated children’s Bibles.

The other night I was reading Zondervan’s Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories to my four-year-old twins when I came to a disturbing realization. Though the children’s Bible includes hundreds of illustrations depicting all sorts of animals—snakes, camels, sheep, fish, doves, lions, donkeys, whales—I couldn’t find a single dinosaur anywhere. I hoped to spot at least a brachiosaurus grazing on treetops in the Garden of Eden, or perhaps a ravenous velociraptor chasing a shepherd across the Judean wilderness. But no.
Until recently, I was unaware that the biblical world was full of dinosaurs. Last Monday, the $27 million Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky,…

June 5th, 2007
The former rock journalist talks about her conversion and The Thrill of the Chaste

BustedHalo: Dawn, you and I have known each other for a long time. I knew you mainly as a rock and roll journalist, who did liner notes for lots of cd reissues and wrote for a bunch of magazines…
Dawn Eden: (laughs) See, I love this because you having known me for a while can attest to the fact that I’m not just a poser. You know there are plenty of Christian writers who say, “Oh yeah, I was hip once, I was in the rock world once.”
BH: I can vouch for the fact that you were once in the rock world. In fact you and I once worked together when you wrote press releases for my old band and on my solo cds. So this is a big turn for you. Talk to me a little bit about how your book came about, Thrill of the Chaste. And what got

June 4th, 2007
The National Catholic Singles Conference

In just a few weeks, more than 500 Catholic singles will head to San Diego, California for a weekend of panel discussions, socializing and prayer about the vocation of singles and the search for a perfect match.
The National Catholic Singles Conference was founded in 2005 by Anastasia Northrop. There have been conferences in Denver, Chicago and now San Diego, and because of its popularity, there are plans for east, west and central U.S. conferences in coming years.
What happens at a single’s conference and why is it so popular? According to one of this year’s conference organizers, Michele Fleming, director of the Office for Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Diego, it’s an opportunity…

June 1st, 2007
When did Amnesty become a dirty word?

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty have become just that…words. No longer do they represent America’s stand for moral compassion. Immigration policy has gone through a dramatic shift towards restriction in years past and, as evidenced by last week’s events, still remains in flux.
As if it were in hibernation for the past year, the immigration issue has reemerged into the sunlight of public debate. The marches that brought millions of people to the streets…

May 31st, 2007
Seattle's Interfaith Creation Festival connects spirituality and concern for the earth

Seattle has never been known as the epicenter of faith, religion or spirituality in the U.S., but for four days from May 31 to June 3 faith and spirituality will be at the center of the Emerald City as Seattle-based Earth Ministry will host its first annual Interfaith Creation Festival.
The festival will also mark Earth Ministry’s 15th anniversary since its founding in 1991 by Carla Pryne, an Episcopalian priest and a Presbyterian minister Jim Mulligan and his wife Ruth, who is the chair of the festival’s steering committee.
“It speaks to their commitment and vision to still be involved 15 years later,” says LeeAnne Beres, executive director of Earth Ministry. “There was a need…

May 30th, 2007
A funny thing happened in the middle of making a living

There’s an old Yiddish saying: “If you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”
As far as my own life’s concerned, these days, I’m sure, He’s in stitches.
On Saturday, May the 19th, I completed a five-year odyssey and was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Suffice it to say: this isn’t exactly what I’d planned for my life. It’s not exactly what my wife had in mind when she married me 21 years ago, either. But as John Lennon (British, not Yiddish) put it: life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

The plans I’d made included a successful career in broadcasting, a nice home, a comfortable life, a happy…

May 24th, 2007
The man behind PBS' "Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly" discusses The Life of Meaning

After spending more than four decades covering world events for NBC news— including a stint in Moscow between 1989-1994 where he reported on the end of the Cold War—Bob Abernethy set his sights on covering a different kind of story. Raised in a family of devout Northern Baptists, Abernethy was aware that a serious discussion surrounding issues of faith was missing from the national media landscape and developed PBS’ Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly to fill that gap. A decade later the show he created has helped add nuance and depth to the frequently one-dimensional and shallow discussion of faith and spirituality in the United States. In his new book The Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith,…

May 22nd, 2007
The popular expert on the connection between mind, body and spirit visits the BustedHalo show on Sirius Satellite radio

Deepak Chopra is one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind, body and medicine. The author of more than 50 books, Chopra is regarded as the pre-eminent authority of Eastern philosophy in the Western world. He has been a best selling author for decades whose writings have been translated into 35 languages. What many do not know is that Dr. Chopra was also the chief of staff at the Boston Medical Center and has long been revolutionizing common wisdom about the crucial connection between body, mind, spirit and healing. In his new book, The Buddha. A Story of Enlightenment…. Dr. Chopra shows how the iconic journey of the prince who became the Buddha has changed the world forever and how the lessons he

May 21st, 2007
What makes a date? What makes it great?

According to our recent BustedHalo survey, respondents said they went on their first date, on average, at age 16. But what if you’re in your college years and beyond and haven’t had a meaningful relationship experience? You’re worried that you don’t know the “rules” or that you’ll make a rookie mistake.
Often it’s the simple things that trip us up in the world of love and dating, especially for young adults who get into the dating game a bit later. Here are some basics – and no matter how old you are, or how many dates you’ve had, it never hurts to remember where things begin:
What Counts As A Date?
This seems like a simple question, but it’s one…

May 18th, 2007
A death in the family

Amid news of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death earlier this week, the coverage was predictable. Conservatives who benefited from the pioneering televangelist’s forays into politics praised his stances and lamented his departure from the stage, while liberals took it upon themselves to assume the same role of unrelenting judge that they found so abhorrent when Falwell, himself, played it.
But beyond the noise of the polarizing political reactions what is often missed is the intensely personal and human dimension to Reverend Falwell’s death; that is what I experienced.
While I normally play the role of the Vatican scribe covering the colossus of all things Catholic, I don’t often…

May 16th, 2007
Reflections from a former fundamentalist

The Rev. Jerry Falwell—founder of the Moral Majority and the leader of the religious right in the ’80s—died Tuesday after he was discovered unconscious in his office. We at BustedHalo… offer our prayers for Falwell’s family, friends, and flock. Our prayers also go out to Falwell himself.
Now that the evangelist has finally met his maker, we pray for his sake that God is an amiable old white guy with a long grey beard, and is not, say, a big purple Teletubby with a triangle above his head and a magic bag dangling from his arm. Tinky Winky as Divine Judge might have a beef with Falwell. Having outed Tink as gay, Falwell denounced the beloved children’s TV character as “damaging to

May 15th, 2007
A review of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding

Planning an expensive and elaborate wedding has become part of the modern quest for happiness, and an ever-growing battalion of wedding professions is to blame for our misguided approach to marital satisfaction, Rebecca Mead argues in One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.
In the last three decades, simple family nuptials have been transformed into a $161 billion consumer bonanza. And the blushing bride has become Bridezilla— obsessed with the idea that the candy-coating on the dessert almonds must match the color of the menu cards.
One Perfect Day charts this evolution with chapters on wedding planners, bridal registries, destination weddings, gown sales and a separate section with…

May 14th, 2007
How one 20-something turned a brief service trip into his life's mission

Each year hundreds of college students visit developing countries to volunteer on humanitarian projects, learn about another culture and foster solidarity with people whose poverty and trauma are shaped by the geopolitical actions of wealthy nations. While the lessons of the service trip continue to inform students’ actions, as time passes their intensity generally fades.
Not so Matthew Nespoli, a Villanova University alumnus and founder of Water for Waslala, a micro-development initiative that brings safe drinking water to isolated communities in the mountainous Waslala region of Nicaragua. Nespoli’s brief trip abroad in the summer of 2002 has determined the course of his life since.…

May 9th, 2007
You can't spell love without evolve

For most of my adult life, I was what you might call, a casual evolutionist. You know, the type of person who could handle your run-of-the-mill, cocktail-party conversation on Darwinism. All the obvious stuff just seemed to make sense, like how giraffes with longer necks had a better shot than their shorter cousins. Or that stronger lions killed more zebras than the weak ones. Or how Donald Trump is still able to date fashion models because…
OK, well, perhaps Darwin’s theory had its limits.
But during my recent breakup with my girlfriend, Linda—somewhere between the “I swear this is the last 3 am phone call” and the restraining order—I had an epiphany. With all the extra…

May 8th, 2007
Why Latinos are increasingly converting to Islam

As a girl in Catholic school, Khadijah Rivera dreamed of becoming a nun despite the fact she feared Jesus. She was frightened by her church’s bloodied statue of Christ nailed to the cross and was plagued with fear when receiving communion. “When I used to put the host in my mouth,” she says, “I never bit it. I let it melt because I was afraid to bite the body and blood of Christ.” Years later, as an adult, she says she has now gotten over these fears and learned to love Jesus more. The reason for her change of heart? Rivera converted to Islam.
According to Rivera, who founded PIEDAD, a Latino Muslim organization based in Tampa, Florida, with over 300 members nationwide, Latino Muslims are…

May 7th, 2007
Do you lie about what you do on a first date?

Nina, a 27-year-old anesthesiology resident in New York City, met a man at a bar recently. After some flirtatious small-talk, he asked her what she did for work. “I told him I was a health professional, and he assumed I was a nurse. It’s so smooth when I tell guys that I’m a nurse. They smile and that’s the end of it,” she said. “And when I tell them I’m doing anesthesiology, they say, ‘Why aren’t you in pediatrics? Don’t you like kids?’”
Mark, a 32-year-old investment banker, said he is hesitant to tell women he first meets about his job. “I feel like they light up with dollar-signs in their eyes. I want to know that they are interested…

May 4th, 2007
Spider-Man 3 spins out of control

Until the advent of serviceable computer-generated imagery, fans of the Spider-Man comics were spared the disappointment of seeing their beloved hero bastardized on film. But that didn’t stop them from wanting a movie version anyway—especially after seeing Hollywood and even some critics bow down to Tim Burton’s Batman and Richard Donner’s Superman. Of course, capturing the likes of Batman’s caped crusades or even Superman’s up-up-and-aways was one thing. Filming Spider-Man’s balletic swinging, flipping, and twisting through Manhattan’s scraped sky posed a serious filmmaking challenge. Luckily for fans, the movie was stalled for fifteen years before Sony snatched up the rights…

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