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September 15th, 2005
My city will come back and so will I.

The City of New Orleans began as a small settlement one hundred years before the first shots were fired against the British, when New York was New Amsterdam, and in the same century Shakespeare wrote Hamlet and Macbeth. The city has thrived despite plagues, fires, riots, flooding, secession, siege, occupation, segregation, integration, and a strong reputation for corruption and sin.
People have always asked me why I would live in such a backwards place—why I would brave the worst heat, highest crime, and poorest population in the United States. I can’t explain it to outsiders. But when Hurricane Katrina tore apart my life on August 29, I lost more than my belongings and a promising semester of law…

September 14th, 2005
Laughing in the Dark

The following is a reflection written by Sheila Provencher, 32, who lives and works in Baghdad, Iraq, with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT is an ecumenical organization that works with local people in areas of violence (including the West Bank, Colombia and Iraq) to seek nonviolent solutions to situations of injustice and oppression. Sheila, who holds degrees from Harvard and Notre Dame, joined CPT in Baghdad in December, 2003.
BustedHalo.com will feature Sheila’s occasional reflections on daily life in Iraq, the Iraqi people and the challenges they face during the American occupation.

Jokes can reveal a lot. I suspect they can reveal more about a situation than can many scholarly articles,…

September 11th, 2005
"Pay It Forward"

Kim Statkevicus had it all. A successful, loving husband, a great house in the suburbs, a 13 month old son and another child on the way—the picture perfect American dream. But on September 11, 2001 Kim’s husband, Derek was among the many killed in the World Trade Center. As she began to mourn the loss of her husband complete strangers came rushing to her aid. “Derek died in a very public way,” she said in a recent phone interview, “so the outpouring of support for me was immense. Because I was pregnant I received so much stuff, and it just kept on coming in. While I was very grateful, I also wondered what I was going to do with [all of it], much of which I didn’t need.”

Kim (pictured…

September 10th, 2005
Facts and Feelings: Why Getting to Know Someone Takes Time -- and Not Just a Background Search

In .2 seconds I can do a Google search on anyone. For some people, long lists of hits appear. For others, it’ll just be genealogies of random unrelated folks who share the same name and posted a family website. But it always turns up something.
Googling potential dates or new love interests has become commonplace. It’s fun, informative and a great way to procrastinate. But it underscores the fact that we want to know everything we can about someone in the most efficient way possible. While this is good in the business world, it can cause problems in your personal life. I offer this cautionary tale:
Deep Background
Two years ago I was set up on a blind date by a friend-of-a-friend. Blind Date guy and I exchanged…

September 8th, 2005

“Do you think sin exists? Why or why not?”…

September 5th, 2005
How to make sure the victims of Hurricane Katrina receive the help they need.

In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, many of us want to do our part to help those who are suffering but aren’t sure which organizations to donate to. Below are some resources to help you make your donation decision.
InterAction, “Guide to Appropriate Giving”
InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations.” There are both secular organizations and religious organizations from different faiths. To join, members must go through a tough review process and follow a strict set of standards. Members work in every developing country. Members have a lot of experience dealing with natural and/or…

August 23rd, 2005
My journey from atheism to belief

A few days before heading out of town, I called my parents in Vermont to tell them I would be away for the weekend. My Dad had a stroke in 1996 so I like them to know when I’ll be away from my home base in New York City , in case there’s a medical emergency. They both answered the phone.

Nathaniel: “I’m going on a retreat.”
Mom: “What kind of retreat?”
Nathaniel: “A religious retreat.”
Dad: “What denomination?”
Nathaniel: “Catholic.”
Mom: “They persecuted my people.”
Nathaniel: “They’re my people too.”
Mom: “If you become a Catholic, I will stop being your mother.”

She sounded somewhat…

August 20th, 2005
If you are committed to remaining a virgin until marriage, where do you draw the line on physical intimacy?

Dozens of you responded to our most recent Pure Sex, Pure Love survey about sexual intimacy before marriage-and expressed diverse opinions. Some readers said kissing, handholding and hugging are the only acceptable forms of intimacy before marriage. Other readers said anything short of intercourse is acceptable within a committed relationship.
According to the Church, sex should be reserved for marriage. It’s a rule, and as rules go, it’s pretty black and white. But what is “sex”-and where is the line between acceptable physical intimacy before marriage and out-of-bounds sin? Is making out OK? Clothes off? Oral sex?
Several recent polls of college students – including…

August 1st, 2005
How the shifting political landscape is changing the argument on abortion.

Few other issues in American politics have been as divisive as abortion. In the more than three decades since the Supreme Court?s decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, both the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements have been hunkered down in what seems like a form of trench warfare that has polarized our discourse on the topic into an all or nothing exercise in futility. In recent months, however, there is evidence that a re-assessment of this seemingly intractable problem is occuring on both sides of the debate. In this first installment in a three part series, BustedHalo.com explores the political shifts taking place surrounding this troublesome and complex topic.
People like Kristen Day were once considered…

August 1st, 2005
Alice von Hildebrand and an insightful brand of feminist spirituality

Before the Vagina Monologues even opened on my Catholic college campus last year, the campus had been buzzing with concern. Fordham University pulled funding because some of the monologues were not in keeping with church teaching, and the students were upset because they felt their freedom of speech was being infringed upon. A group of young seminarians and one female student even protested the play during its run.
As both a Catholic woman and a student at Fordham, I supported the Vagina Monologues because of the strength many women have drawn from it. Though I was hurt by the protesters’ apparent lack of concern for the image of the Church they were projecting, their actions did, however, raise an important…

August 1st, 2005
A Paulist Novice’s Excellent Adventure

Ever since I was young I wanted
to
be an actor. My love for movies has always been a big part of my life and the hundreds of DVDs and videos I’ve amassed in my personal collection over the years is just a clue to how big a cinephile I am. This passion led me to study acting in college and then at a conservatory for two additional years before I finally hit the Cincinnati pavement looking for work.

In addition to my growing fascination with movies, I was also a church rat as a kid. Serving mass as an altar boy left a big impression upon me and I often wondered if I could be a priest. I would fantasize about what being a priest would be like, but most of the time I didn’t think I had anything to teach people about being holy. Better…

July 22nd, 2005
Fox’s new reality show offers viewers an all-too real insight into a typical faith community

A little over a week ago, I was able to get a first look at the pilot for a new reality show called God’s Eye… that will be part of Fox’s primetime lineup this fall. The program reveals the ups and downs of a typical American faith community by chronicling a year in the lives of the pastor, staff and parishioners at Our Lady of Fatima Church an average Catholic parish in the metropolitan Chicago area.
The pastor, Fr. McMullen, 72, who has been at the parish for 9 years, is a quiet, balding man with a rather ample stomach that hangs over his belt. His wrinkled clerical shirt lies limp on his slumped shoulders. He says he hasn’t had a day off in over 8 months and McMullen’s worn and wearied face is proof enough that he isn’t

July 22nd, 2005
Remembering Star Trek’s James “Scotty” Doohan

Before I begin I need to get something out of the way. “Hello, my
name is Dave and I’m a recovering Trekkie.” Phew! It feels so good to get that off my chest. But I still need to come clean with you, though I’ve been in recovery for quite some time I must admit that I had a “slip” when I learned of the death on July 20th of James “Scotty” Doohan, star of the original “Star Trek” series.
While many people focus on Kirk and Spock, the show’s two primary characters, Scotty was always one of my favorite Trek characters. The Starship Enterprise would have been nothing without Scottish Chief Engineer Mr. Scott, who saved the Enterprise and its crew from demise on many occasions. The pop culture lexicon…

July 13th, 2005
Struggling with chastity as an adult

I still recall being fifteen and my best-friend Katie asking me the question, would you would be willing to sleep with someone you weren’t married to?
I hadn’t thought much about the topic. I was more concerned with getting a guy named Steve in my literature class to notice I existed. I decided, because Katie said she wouldn’t, that I wouldn’t either.
Steve finally did notice me. On our first date he kissed me in the snow. For a teenage girl it was like a fairy-tale. Soon, he was my boyfriend. After a month of dating, the topic of sex had yet to emerge. Steve never spoke about sex, but he didn’t need to. After one particular date, he tried to go further physically than I was comfortable with…

July 9th, 2005
An American walks the streets after the bombing

London July 8, 2005For the second time in four years a “terrorist” group has attacked civilians in my city. On September 11th I watched black clouds rising from lower Manhattan as I walked to work in Brooklyn. Yesterday at 8:51 a.m., an unknown group attacked civilians in London, my home for the summer.
The police have confirmed that within 50 minutes, there were four explosions: three in the subway system and one in a bus. So far, at least 50 people have been killed and over 700 people have been injured – some so seriously that they lost limbs. But the reaction that I have seen from Londoners has been very different from what I saw in New York on September 11th.
For most of yesterday, my view of the attack…

July 8th, 2005
The well-known social activist and author of God's Politics talks with Busted Halo

In the months leading up to the 2004 presidential election, the issue of faith—particularly how George W. Bush’s Christian beliefs influence his decisions and policies—became pivotal. While many cited “moral issues” as being important with regard to who they voted for, others felt as though President Bush, the Republican Party and even some religious leaders had hijacked a narrow religious agenda based on abortion and homosexuality and positioned the president as the only choice for voters concerned about morality.
Jim Wallis was a voice of reason and balance in that divisive debate, publicly encouraging the President, as well as Republicans, Democrats and voters in general…

July 7th, 2005

What was your reaction to the recent bombings in London? Do you feel safe? How do you feel about the amount of money spent on national security?…

July 7th, 2005
Is Premarital Sex ALWAYS a Sin?

Jen, a 26-year-old BustedHalo reader, was seriously dating her boyfriend when they decided to have sex. This relationship “felt different,” she said, and after a lot of thought, she felt that the relationship was blessed by God. “I knew that it was OK. I didn’t end up marrying that man, but even so, with my 20/20 hindsight, I still know that it wasn’t sinful. It was a way of loving God through this other person. In some instances, it was a form of prayer.” While the Church has unambiguous rules about sex outside of marriage, many practicing Catholics have chosen to have premarital sex. They defend—and worry—about their decisions in a variety of ways.
In the last few weeks, I’ve asked BustedHalo…

July 2nd, 2005
Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof takes a second crack at reducing poverty

“We don’t want your money—we want you!” You’ve seen the commercials—a quick montage of famous faces imploring viewers to help eliminate poverty forever. This marketing blitz is meant to grab our attention and focus us on a meeting that will take place in Edinburgh,
Scotland on July 7th, 2005. The leaders of the 8 richest countries in the world are gathering here to discuss trade practices, debt relief and how to halt the spread of AIDS, among other topics. Many people around the world hold out hope that at this meeting the “G8″ countries will pledge serious financial resources for an unprecedented effort toward eradicating poverty throughout the world. It is exciting,…

July 1st, 2005
Novelist Mary Gordon confronts faith and forgiveness in her new novel

So, do you really have to buy all that stuff for Catholic faith to mean something? I mean, does a person really have to be a believer?
At first, this seems to be the question at the center of novelist Mary Gordon’s latest work.
Pearl is the story of two once-Catholic New Yorkers?each deprived of mother or father by tragic circumstances early in life?who are raised together. Boisterous and ever political, Maria is a child of the 1960s, while her lifelong friend Joseph remains quiescent and dutiful; he becomes godfather to Maria’s fatherless daughter Pearl (this novel is the most concentrated tale of mixed biological-foster families since the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, or perhaps more to the…

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