Busted Halo
May 2nd, 2006

“According to a proposed immigration bill in Congress, illegal immigrants found in the United States and any people who help them, including social service and church groups, could be arrested and charged with a felony. What do you think about this? Should illegal immigrants be permitted to stay in the United States? Should agencies and church be allowed to help them?”…

May 1st, 2006
United 93 honors losses that are both national and personal

The fact that we know how director Paul Greeengrass’ United 93 ends somehow makes the film all the more harrowing to watch. We know that the doomed September 11th flight out of Newark airport will be overtaken by terrorists and targeted for the U.S. Capitol. We also know that a group of passengers will rally and force the plane to crash in a field in Shanksville, PA with no survivors. Greengrass gives Americans the chance to re-live a piece of our national nightmare and nearly five years later the wound is still fresh; having known a member of the flight crew personally made an already difficult film to watch into an excruciating experience.
United Flight attendant Debbie Welsh was a member of my parish, and I…

April 28th, 2006
Praiz and the soul of Christian Hip Hop

It all started with a desperate prayer from a desperate man:
Lord deliver me from myself
I’m in trouble, I need your help…
Not too long ago, Vance Watt was caught in a downward spiral of drugs, booze, violence and incarceration and he was bracing for a crash. His desperate plea was also his first step in turning toward God and eventually became the song, “Deliver Me,” a stirring call for redemption from the lifestyle he used to promote. Now, the 29-year-old married, father of three is the voice of the growing Christian hip-hop scene in St. Louis.
St. Louis Sound
Watt walked away from it all just as he was making a name as an up-and-comer in local rap and hip-hop circles, which, at the time, was…

April 28th, 2006
Skunks, semantics and the art of spin

The other day, while toting my inquisitive four-year-old daughter to preschool, our chat about contemporary political corruption was interrupted by a familiar smell. Taking a moment at a red light to peer in front of the bumper of my Subaru, I stole a glance of the culprit: freshly squashed skunk.
After casually directing my kid’s eyes to the poor beast’s mangled remains, the following dialogue ensued:
“Pee yew! What’s that smell?”
“It’s the smell a skunk makes when it leaves this earth, sweetie.”
“Why’s it leaving?”
“Well, its time had come.”
“Its time for what?”
“Uh, its time to move on, sweetie pie.…

April 24th, 2006
Updating the Best of Pure Sex, Pure Love's First Year

For more than a year, I’ve been writing the Pure Sex, Pure Love column for BustedHalo. We’ve covered some big topics: When to bring up your faith in a new relationship, how to make sure you are being open to meeting the right person, and, of course, the thorny topics of sex – is premarital sex always a sin, and how far is too far when it comes to intimacy before marriage?
As a social scientist, I’ve used online polls to get a sense of what BustedHalo readers think about these topics. Through the answers I receive, I hope to take a snapshot of the opinions of the young-adult Catholic community as a whole.
Usually, the poll for the upcoming column is posted alongside the previous week’s column.…

April 24th, 2006
A Morality play with Mobster style

Will Vito get whacked for wearing leather? Will Paulie forgive his mother for being his aunt? Will Carmela ever succeed in building that million-dollar spec house out of cardboard and glue?
As the sixth season of The Sopranos passes the half-way mark, we need to momentarily disentangle ourselves from such pressing questions and address an even bigger issue: why is it that we still care?
It’s not because of the menace in Tony Soprano’s eyes when somebody crosses him, or the periodic explosions of violence when wise guys clash over money and respect—as fun as those things are. The answer, I believe, is that The Sopranos is not just wonderful storytelling but that it addresses moral experience…

April 20th, 2006

Do you think there can be good in the midst of suffering? Is God present there?…

April 20th, 2006
A Guide to the new reality show God or the Girl

With its mix of equal parts “The Bachelor” and “Jackass” with a spiritual twist, A&E’s new reality series, “God or the Girl” has people talking. The five-part show follows the lives of four young men who struggle with making a decision to pursue studying for the priesthood instead of staying in a relationship with a significant other.
The four “contestants” offer an accurate reflection of the diversity of young adult faith experiences, ranging from highly pious to the irreverent. While “God or the Girl” makes an attempt to honestly portray how these men struggle with their decision, it sometimes stoops to sprinkling in stupid…

April 17th, 2006
An interview with the author of The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith Inside a Catholic Seminary

The Collar chronicles the journey of five men who have left their careers and former lives behind to begin formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood. In his realistic, human, and at times, gripping account of seminary life, Jonathan Englert gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the faith journeys of these five individuals, including a recently widowed father of four, a blind violinist, and an avid hunter from Wyoming.
Due to the shrinking population of ordained priests, a growing number of Catholics, and the aftermath of the clergy sexual abuse scandals, seminary life is a topic that promises to continue to fascinate Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
With a master’s degree in journalism from…

April 14th, 2006
For some Muslims, changing faith traditions endangers their lives.

Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks I befriended a twenty-year-old Egyptian woman. She had recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama to marry the owner of a Mediterranean restaurant I frequented, and I wanted her to know people in Alabama accepted and liked her regardless of some of the prejudices that surfaced after September 11. She wore a fedora over her conservative Islamic hijab (headscarf) to camouflage her religious identity.
Using halting English, we shared stories of each other’s lives. She was amazed to learn I had chosen the Catholic faith in adulthood, and she asked me many times for clarification. Her husband interpreted my words for her in Arabic: “My family does not belong…

April 9th, 2006
BustedHalo talks with the real-life nun behind Dead Man Walking about her newest book The Death of Innocents

“We never know when grace is going to hit us” says Sister Helen Prejean at the start of our interview. The sixty-seven-year old author and activist knows what she is talking about. The woman who was propelled to the forefront in the fight against the death penalty with her best-selling book, Dead Man Walking, and the 1995 movie of the same name, never really set out to be a voice for the oppressed. She admits that the extent of her exposure to, the poor for much of her early life was confined to her mother’s urging of her to include “poor people who have no place to sleep tonight” in her bedtime prayers. Her early years in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille were spent in the classroom, teaching…

April 7th, 2006
Colliding head-on with religion (and myself) deep in the heart of Dixie

Growing up Jewish in New York City, I had no idea that I was a member of a ridiculously small religious minority. That blithe unawareness had something to do with the relatively large number of Jews living there, obviously, but it was also connected to the secular tenor of public life in America’s most international city: religion was considered a private matter; it never came up among strangers or casual acquaintances, and certainly never in a business situation. There was a strong awareness that the other guy might well turn out to be Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain, and that it was safer not to risk giving (or receiving) offense.
In 2002 I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, and everything changed.…

April 7th, 2006
An interview with CIA veteran Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern served God and country for 27 years as a member of the CIA by keeping his work secret. Today, along with a group of other Intelligence veterans, he tells the truth about the corruption of US Intelligence gathering to anyone who will listen.
When he graduated Fordham University during the height of the Cold War, he decided to put his degree in Russian studies to use with the CIA in the fight against the “godless Communism” of the USSR. His work called him to Moscow, Germany and back to the United States. Along the way he also studied at Harvard Business School and Georgetown University. In his later years of service, he was one of two men in charge of then Vice President George H.W. Bush’s…

April 6th, 2006
A Danish reader offers some perspective

I was randomly surfing the web when I found your article on the Mohammed cartoons and, though it did offer insight into the Muslim thinking, I have to admit that I found the point to be without insight into what has actually caused the situation in the first place.
I should probably tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Dane. I am a Christian, and I did not enjoy those cartoons. However, anyone from the Danish culture, would interpret them differently than you did. Which is why I thought you might find the background story interesting.
You probably already know, that what started the whole ordeal was a man who wanted to make an informative book about Islam for children. Harmless? No, because he wanted cartoons…

April 6th, 2006

“What do you think Jesus’ message was? Do you think his death was important?”…

March 31st, 2006
An interview with the author of My Life with the Saints

Rev. James Martin–Jesuit priest and associate editor of America magazine–has written and edited numerous books on the spiritual life, including the memoir In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, chronicling his journey from the corporate subculture of General Electric to the Jesuit priesthood, and Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions. News outlets like CNN and National Public Radio frequently seek Martin’s commentary on Catholic issues, and he is a popular and sought-after speaker. BustedHalo recently talked to Fr. Martin about his new book My Life with the Saints which was released at the beginning of March…

March 30th, 2006
Impure Thoughts: What are they and where do they come from?

The Bible tells us “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 26:7) and the Buddha is quoted as saying “What we think, we become.” Our minds are powerful tools, so it’s fair to ask the question: what counts as an impure thought? Why are these thoughts wrong? And isn’t just thinking it better than doing it?
Indeed, this is a hot topic. A record number of respondents filled out our recent BustedHalo survey on impure thoughts—and young-adult Catholics aren’t always in agreement with the experts.
Impure or forbidden thoughts include sexual fantasies, violence against others or ourselves, cheating, divorce, rape, and other behaviors that we think of…

March 30th, 2006

Do you think there is a difference between being spiritual and religious? Do you consider yourself spiritual or religious?…

March 30th, 2006
Start acting like baboons…

“The good news for humans is that it looks like peaceable conditions, once established, can be maintained” says primatologist Frans de Waal. “And if Baboons can do it, why not us?”
In 2004, Stanford University biologist and neurologist Robert Sapolsky reported that violence considered normal among baboons, can be radically and permanently transformed. Over twenty years ago in Kenya, primatologists observed a troop of baboons whose social patterns reconfigured themselves when all the alpha males raiding a dump were wiped out by eating meat laced with bovine tuberculosis. Less aggressive males had not been welcome to go along with the tough guys, and all of a sudden there were no…

March 22nd, 2006
Surviving my husband's heart attack

At 11pm on February 9th my husband started with pain in his chest. At midnight he woke me up and said, “I don’t think I’m ok.” We drove to the emergency room. The guy at the desk took one look at Greg’s pale sweaty face and said, “Come right back to Room 1.” After that, things went the way they go when you’re a kid and you realize the sledding hill is too steep but you’ve already pushed off. Everything starts whizzing by in a blur and you’re thinking to yourself, “If I can (Unh!) just hang onto the (Ow!) sled, I might live through this.” I’m 38 years old, and the thought of becoming a widow just now is definitely NOT part of the plan.
As one…

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