Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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January 9th, 2006
Turn Your Cablight On: Advice for Catholic Dating from a Jewish New York City Dating Expert

Certain religions seem to be more interested in helping young adults date within their faith. Every synagogue seems to have a matchmaker. For those in the Mormon faith, every big city has a church dedicated to bringing singles together. But Catholics don’t seem to do as much of this sort of thing.
I live on the Upper West Side in New York City, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, and over the years I’ve been fascinated (and a bit jealous) about the number of ways local young-adult Jews have to meet others who share their faith. There are very active websites like jdate, frumster and sawyouatsini.com. There are dozens of married women who act as matchmakers and make introductions between eligible singles.…

January 4th, 2006
The controversial Catholic author talks about his new book on one of the Church's oldest prayers

As a cultural historian and author, Garry Wills has spent more than three decades researching and writing on historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan (his Lincoln at Gettsyburg won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for nonfiction) but it is as a writer on religion that Wills has been making his mark of late. With books like Papal Sin (2000), St. Augustine’s Memory (2002) and Why I Am A Catholic (2002) Wills has been both an outspoken advocate for and critic of the Catholic church.
His latest book, The Rosary, is both a history of one of Catholicism’s oldest practices as well as a prayer guide. Wills debunks myths surrounding the origins of the rosary and brings to light many…

December 31st, 2005
With Devils & Dust Bruce Springsteen rediscovers his Catholic roots

Is Bruce Springsteen a Catholic songwriter?
There’s a strong argument to be made that he is. Catholic images can be found on many of his albums, especially his early ones, and at times he seems obsessed with the search for redemption, a favorite theme for Catholic artists from Caravaggio to Graham Greene. But Springsteen’s albums have rarely been explicitly religious, and he has admitted in interviews that he has tried to keep his childhood faith at a distance.
That is until Devils & Dust. Devils is Springsteen’s most religious album to date. It reflects the concerns and anxieties of a man who, as he has grown older, has started asking the big questions that faith promises answers to. What’s…

December 25th, 2005

“And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold,…

December 24th, 2005
Reflections on St. Joseph from a soon-to-be adoptive father

As Christmas Day draws closer and crèche scenes start to pop up in New York City, I inevitably begin to think about the Holy Family. But this Christmas, as my wife and I begin the process of adopting a child, I find myself drawn closer to the life of St. Joseph than ever before.
Imagine Joseph’s surprise when, in his old age, he accepts Mary as his betrothed only to find out later that she is pregnant. By law, Joseph had the right to stone Mary. So the first intended audience for the gospel must have found it quite surprising that Joseph decided to simply “divorce her quietly.”
A second surprise is that this choice causes Joseph so much angst that he can not even sleep soundly. A dream instructs…

December 20th, 2005
Some thoughts on Christmas presence

December 1958
It’s helpful to have an older brother who’s taller than you. At the age of four Timmy is a year older and can reach things I can’t. One morning, he climbs up on a chair he’s put in the closet we’re not supposed to open, and sees toys on the shelf, new toys, still in their packages. Fun! He yanks down a set of blocks and a bunch of other stuff. Soon I’m busy playing with a new set of beautiful, blond, wooden blocks, putting them one on top of another, and then immediately knocking them down. Fun! All of a sudden, our Mom, seeing that we’ve discovered the Christmas stash early, pulls us into the kitchen. “Time for breakfast, boys. I’m making chocolate chip pancakes.” I love chocolate…

December 15th, 2005
Disney's Narnia adaptation doesn't disappoint

“It’s not like he’s a tame lion.” It’s a single line, delivered in the final moments of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, long after the climax is complete. Nevertheless, for myself and, I imagine, legions of Narnia enthusiasts like me, its inclusion thrills the soul, sells the film, and puts to rest any nagging concerns that, well, they just wouldn’t get it right. Why? Because C.S. Lewis’ fictional world of Narnia is not just an alternate universe where animals talk, where fauns and dryads and nymphs are real, where children can be heroes and adults are hard to find. It’s much more important than that, and rarely has anyone come away touched by those elements…

December 15th, 2005
A Look at Intercultural Relationships

On Christmas Eve, after returning from the Catholic children’s service, my family and I will sit down to a dinner of 7 vegetarian dishes. The main course will be a very modest, but nourishing bean soup called bop, a daily staple across much of the Balkan Peninsula. This plain menu is taken from my husband’s Bulgarian Orthodox tradition. So is the centerpiece on the table, an icon of the Madonna with Child, surrounded by candles representing friends and family who are both near and, in our hearts at least, never very far away. On Christmas Day, we will partake of a turkey or goose dinner more in keeping with the feasts I grew up with. The fridge will be so full of leftovers that we probably won’t cook…

December 1st, 2005
BustedHalo discusses "America's Moral Crisis" with the former President

It seemed to be a simple enough question requiring an even simpler answer. While running for President in 1976, Jimmy Carter responded to a political supporter who—in front of some reporters—asked if he was a born again Christian. “I truthfully answered ‘Yes,’ assuming all devout Christians were born again, of the Holy Spirit” Carter writes in his new book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. “This was the first time that this religious characterization had been injected into the political arena, and there was an immediate furor, with media allegations that I claimed to be receiving messages directly from heaven…making clear to…

November 21st, 2005
BustedHalo interviews the bestselling author about her return to Catholicism and the direction her writing is taking with the publication of her new book Christ the Lord

Photos by Andrea Milo
Witches and vampires have been very good to Anne Rice. Since Interview with the Vampire was published in 1976, the New Orleans native has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and inspired legions of devoted fans with her dark, erotically charged tales. She’s become a fixture on the bestseller list and several of her twenty seven novels have been made into feature films or miniseries–a television series is also in the works for her books on the Mayfair Witches as well.
So why after decades of success has the Queen of the Undead decided to focus all of her writing on the King of Kings? That’s right, following her return to the Catholic Church in 1998–after a nearly…

November 15th, 2005
In Syracuse they gather every Wednesday to eat, drink and talk about God

To Blair Frodelius, it makes perfect sense to talk about God in a bar. After all, he says, Jesus turned water into wine. “There is something about sharing food and drink with others around a table that allows the conversation to flow freely,” says Frodelius, worship pastor at Sojourn, a Methodist ministry in Syracuse, NY.
Frodelius leads a Wednesday night discussion group at the Blue Tusk Pub in Syracuse’s trendy downtown district Armory Square called “Jesus in the Postmodern Matrix,” a group aimed at providing a non-threatening venue for people of all denominations to come and discuss their journey with God. They’ve met every Wednesday since the first week in May of…

November 15th, 2005
Advice on love and marriage from those who've been there and done it

As a relationship columnist, people often ask me for advice, and, most of the time, I’ve got a lot to say. I’ve got plenty of opinions on topics ranging from first-date etiquette and how to navigate those new feelings of love to body language and how far is too far. But when it comes to how to make a marriage work, and how love changes over decades, children, good times and bad, I need as much advice as the rest of you.
So I asked several older-marrieds to share their advice for us young up-and-comers. Here are their top five (with many extras) pointers:
#1: Love Changes through the Years
“When we first got married, we were two survivors looking for a life boat; anything looked like a potential oar. He wanted…

November 13th, 2005
Innocent Voices speaks volumes about the true costs of war.

While our nation’s ongoing war in Iraq is still a hotly contested issue, for many of us it remains just that, one issue among many in an overheated climate of endless rhetoric and polarizing debate on 24-hour news outlets. It is another abstraction on the crowded American landscape of ideas, desires and beliefs. People like Cindy Sheehen don’t have that same luxury however. After her serviceman son was killed in Iraq, Sheehen became an advocate for peace and gained national attention for staging a “peace camp” in Crawford, Texas at which she held vigil and demanded President Bush give her an explanation of the “noble cause” her son had died for while he vacationed for five…

November 12th, 2005
Dan Barry

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:
“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”
Dan Barry is the “About New York” columnist for the New York Times. He has shared a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award, and received the 2003 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. His book, Pull Me Up: A Memoir, was published by W.W. Norton and Company in 2004 and released in paperback this past spring.

James Joyce, “The Dead” (the last story in The Dubliners)
I can’t…

November 9th, 2005
Can Intelligent Design and Evolution Ever Get Along?

This past summer, I moved to a college campus on the North Shore of Chicago. Thankfully, my dorm days are over, but via marriage to a professor, I have taken semi-root in the soil of a faculty-housing complex –a collection of ten somewhat-dilapidated, PhD-inhabited brick homes around a common-area playground that, with its crumbling dump-trucks, cracked hula-hoops and rusted swings, could double as a toy cemetery. Yet despite (or perhaps partly due to) the aesthetic lapses of this curiously anti-suburban cul-de-sac, the arrangement has lent itself to being a hothouse for philosophical discussion.
One late Friday afternoon at the cemetery’s so-called happy hour, with our toddlers obliviously…

November 7th, 2005
John Allen's new book on Opus Dei attempts to separate fact from fiction regarding the most controversial force in the Catholic Church.

Chances are, for most people, the words “Opus Dei” conjure up the image of an albino assassin monk, Silas, or the mysterious and haunting “Teacher” in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Controversy has swirled around Brown’s fictional interpretation of a number of religious topics since Da Vinci’s publication and, no doubt, was also a factor in making it one of the best selling novels of all time. Interest in Opus Dei shows no sign of waning as the cinematic version of the The Da Vinci Code is scheduled to debut this coming spring. The book’s success has been so phenomenal that a cottage industry of books all claiming to “debunk” or “decode” Da Vinci has even emerged as well.
John Allen’s…

November 3rd, 2005
This Thing Called Love

The Beatles sang “All you need is love,” but didn’t give us a whole lot more to work with. Movies, novels and television shows all offer their own interpretation of what love means. But none of them ever quite captured it for me. Is it really love only if you feel butterflies in your stomach and don’t sleep at night? Should you do silly things, or can you make thoughtful decisions and still be in love?
In previous columns we’ve talked about when and how to say I love you, and some of the challenges young adults face as they search for a life partner. This is part of our Pure Sex, Pure Love ongoing series focusing on that big little word. What is love-and why is it so important?
A Brief History…

November 1st, 2005
Everything (almost) you'll ever need to know about All Saints Day and All Souls Day

All Saints day began May 13 in the 7th century under the charge of Pope Boniface IV. Boniface consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary and Saints in order to baptize the pagan culture and supplement the faithful’s celebration of the saints.

All Saints Day was then moved in the 9th century to November 1 in order to sanctify the pagan festivals falling on October 31.

The Latin term for All Saints: Festum omnium sanctorum.

All Saints Day today is a time to reflect on the communion of saints in the Catholic Church. It is a day to contemplate the three states of the communion of saints.

The pilgrim church struggling to live faithful lives in this earthly existence,
the triumphant church of saints already in…

October 25th, 2005
Facts and fantasies about exorcism

With two major studio movies about exorcisms released in the past year (The Exorcist: The Beginning and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and the re-release of the original version of The Exorcist on DVD it’s safe to say that Hollywood seems to have a bit of a fixation with the Devil lately. The most recent offering, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, had the third highest September opening in history and has grossed 73.9 million dollars at the box office thus far. Because Emily Rose was “based on a true story” its release also inspired a flurry of television specials on the subject of possession. Why is it that this dark, mysterious and unexplainable aspect of belief, particularly of Catholicism seems to strike…

October 18th, 2005
One young woman’s short, strange trip toward belief

“There is really nothing more intellectually unfashionable than Christianity. If I could have chosen something else, I would have – God just had other plans for me.”
So writes 17-year-old Marjorie Corbman in “A Tiny Step Away From Deepest Faith.” Though only in high school when she wrote the book, Corbman’s capacity for self-reflection and spiritual insight belies her young age. She not only takes us into the minds of modern teenagers, but presents questions and insights that are relevant to people of all ages, be they seekers or established believers.
Raised a Reformed Jew in a family that was half-heartedly religious, Corbman found herself yearning for meaning–“wired for worship”…

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