Busted Halo
February 10th, 2006
Censorship and the Super Bowl

It seemed like only a year ago we had buried the Super Bowl censorship debate for good.
When Paul McCartney took the stage with his piano in January 2005 for twelve of the most saccharine, inoffensive minutes in the history of musical performance, it was as if our bad memories of Janet Jackson disappeared. All thoughts of “wardrobe malfunctions” seemed to go the way of the “na na na’s” from “Hey Jude,” which innocuously floated out from Sir Paul’s lips into deep space where, some day, they will reach a race of super-advanced, soft-rock-loving aliens, convincing them to spare our planet.
But now once again we are asking ourselves about what’s appropriate…

February 6th, 2006
Pure Sex Pure Love #20

A few weeks ago Pope Benedict delivered his first encyclical — a papal letter to the universal Church — entitled Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).
OK, so he probably wasn’t talking about Whitman’s-Sampler-in-a-heart-shaped-box kind of Valentine’s Day love, but bear with me: There are many languages of love.
Our faith tells us that the longing we feel for love — from our family, our spouse, and our friends — is, at core, a longing for God’s love. Why can we never be satisfied with the gifts of love that special someone gives us? Because they are human, and we’re searching for a greater love.
Body and Soul
“We speak of love of country, love of one’s…

February 1st, 2006
A New Documentary Shows Shocking Truth of Flesh Trade

Since the fall of the Berlin wall roughly 8 million Eastern European women have gone missing. Most have been trafficked into sexual slavery in North America, Asia and the Middle East.
In the former Soviet Bloc, salaries average the equivalent of $2200 a year. Traffickers find many women willing to risk everything for the opportunity to earn a better life and support their families from abroad. Instead of the promised jobs as nurses, caregivers to the elderly and nannies in first world countries, these women find themselves sold, beaten, drugged and raped before being forced into a life of prostitution. After drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking is the second largest and most lucrative organized crime.…

January 30th, 2006
An ancient practice under a different name

When she was 13-years old and working as a waitress near Vera Cruz, Mexico, Rosa was offered an opportunity to make more money as a waitress in the United States by a man acquainted with her family. The man insisted that it was a no-lose situation-–Rosa could change jobs if she were not satisfied or even return home at any time if she wished.
She asked her parents for permission, but they flatly refused. Rosa, though, did not want to miss out on a chance to better her own life or that of her family, so she took the man up on his offer and secretly met him late at night as per his arrangement. Waiting for Rosa were a car and several more girls from nearby towns.
The youth were quickly transported to a location near the Mexican-American…

January 25th, 2006
A Portland parish becomes devoted to the environment

On the long list of social justice causes that the Catholic Church advocates for, issues like poverty and the right to life are usually foremost in people’s minds. But, with the help of their pastor, a parish in the Pacific Northwest has rallied around their concern for the environment with a fervor that has not only enabled them to have a significant, tangible impact on their surrounding community but also illuminated a neglected area of Catholic Social thought that continues to grow in relevance.
When Paulist Father Steve Bossi was assigned to St. Phillip Neri parish in Portland, Oregon, he was excited to return to the Pacific Northwest where he grew up, but he knew he was going to face a huge challenge in…

January 24th, 2006
Wisdom, courage and a good family life, the Old Testament's Deborah "had it all"

Ok, I admit it…in the Bible the men pulled off some pretty incredible feats: Moses parted the sea; Elijah called down fire from heaven to incinerate the wicked priests of Baal; Peter miraculously healed a cripple. Not unlike Hollywood, in the pages of sacred scripture it often seems as though all the juiciest, action-hero roles are reserved for men. And while they fill us with inspiration and admiration, I sometimes wonder where all the women are. Where are my spiritual sisters?
Often, we are led to believe that all women of leadership and personal strength are Jezebels–evil to the core and deserving of their horrible fate (lest we forget, the original Jezebel of the Bible was thrown from…

January 23rd, 2006
The M-Bomb

Conventional wisdom has it that a woman, ever-obsessed with getting married, starts pairing her first name with his last name before the end of date #1—and will be the one to bring up the initial suggestion of marriage as a hope for the future. The first part is true: Rare is the woman who hasn’t (at least once) started plotting the romantic fairytale ending of a relationship in her head before the end of the first act. But my research finds that the second part is false: If the relationship is moving in that direction, it’s men, not women, who will bring up that first, tentative conversation about marriage.
More than 90% of BustedHalo respondents said they believed that women were usually the first…

January 22nd, 2006

“How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? How many do you think you keep?”…

January 19th, 2006
John Paul II gave us a moment that we need to remember

When Pope John Paul II’s would-be assasin, Mehmet Ali Agca, was released from a Turkish jail last week after serving almost 25 years behind bars — except for the complete transformation of his hair from jet black to grey—the man who emerged looked strikingly similar to the person who inhabits one of the more enduring images that I hold dear of the late pope. In that scene John Paul is huddled in a corner talking quietly at close range with the man who tried to kill him. It was an extraordinary act of forgiveness that continues to be extremely rare—if not unheard of — on the world stage and one I don’t remember nearly enough in my own life.

After Agca shot John Paul II six times at close range while thousands of pilgrims looked on in St. Peter’s Square, people around the world were shocked. “Who would want to kill a Pope?” was the question on many people’s lips. “He should get the chair,” my mother remarked angrily. And we all agreed.

Breaking the endless cycle

It was an understandable reaction. Think about it, how often do any of us forgive or ask forgiveness for the many comparatively small transgressions in our own lives? How often in our history books, filled with accounts of hatred and violence, do we come across unpredictable acts like this that break the endless cycle of vengeance? Months after his recovery, the Pope’s visit to his attacker in prison was a radical step in a different direction. He looked at his would-be killer in the eye, conversed with him, shook his hand, and even prayed for him!

January 16th, 2006
The challenge of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

By 1967, Martin Luther King had already been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in overturning the vicious Jim Crow laws that denied African-Americans their God-given freedom and equality by forcing them to live a separate and unequal existence, whether on buses, in schools or in most other public places. We know the story, Amen?
In the year 1967, US citizens who were previously denied the right to vote through all manner of unjust poll tests were now allowed to cast their ballot free of the raced-based discrimination that plagued many Southern precincts. We know the story, Amen?
In 1967, because of Martin’s movement, young African-American high school students could think, for the first…

January 16th, 2006
BustedHalo's conversation with the co-founder of Killing the Buddha and author of the memoir Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and their Son

By the time he was in his late twenties, Peter Manseau had already received a bachelors degree in religion, spent time in a Trappist monastery considering a vocation to be a monk, worked at the National Yiddish Book Center and started the popular website Killing the Buddha which bills itself as “a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches.” If it seems like Manseau has a terminal case of God on the brain it is understandable, it is after all the family business. He is the youngest of three children born to Rev. Bill Manseau a former priest of the Archdiocese of Boston who refused to renounce his priestly vows when he married a former nun, Mary Doherty, in the late 1960s.
In his moving memoir, Vows:…

January 12th, 2006
Critic Harold Bloom wrestles with God in Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine

Who is Jesus? Who is God? Is it possible to discuss them apart from theological abstractions, as personalities with distinctly individual ways of seeing the world? And if so, do these personalities matter to us now in contemporary America? These are the questions that Harold Bloom addresses in his provocative new book, Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine.
Bloom comes to this task with an extraordinary pedigree. A professor at Yale, he is one of the most influential literary critics of the last forty years, the author of more than twenty books and the winner of numerous prizes, including a MacArthur “genius” award. In recent years, he has taken to writing for a general audience: The Western Canon, a…

January 10th, 2006
A Letter From the Editor

“Make no mistake” a priest friend of mine said to me during a recent phone call “it’s a disaster.” I had called to wish him a happy new year but our conversation had veered toward a difficult subject. He was reacting to the Vatican’s document on the suitability of homosexual men for the priesthood that was released in late 2005. My friend, who also happens to be gay, was commenting in part on the more open-ended interpretations of the document that some church officials have offered publicly. But he was also responding to what seems to be a collective shrug of indifference on the issue from many priests—gay and straight—in the United States who seem to think that,…

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…

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