Busted Halo
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May 7th, 2008
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The controversial comments made by Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright has re ignited a debate among many Americans as to how religious leaders should approach political issues of the day when they are preaching to their congregations. The pulpit has historically been a place where these sorts of topics are discussed—often sparking controversy.
BustedHalo® is interested in compiling answers to the following questions from as broad a cross section as possible of preachers (priests, ministers, rabbis, imams etc) who regularly give sermons to their congregations.
Please pass this questionnaire onto as many priests, ministers, rabbis, imams etc as possible.…
Click here to submit your

May 1st, 2008
Discovering the soul of environmental justice

At a local environmental action meeting I attended not long ago, I was surprised and encouraged by the diverse grassroots efforts at stewardship taking place all around me. There was a ten-year old boy at the podium who spoke of his passion for rescuing animals and caring for their welfare, while his mom on the same dais spoke of how their family decided to live without air conditioning in their Upper West Side Manhattan apartment as part of an effort to cut down on energy consumption—they went so far as to remove their radiators, take down walls, and renounce take out food for home cooked, healthy local meals that they ate together. None of the topics spoken about that day, however, fascinated me as much as the fact…

April 30th, 2008
Benedict XVI in America

In the days leading up to the arrival of Pope Benedict in the United States, a number of media outlets contacted BustedHalo.com to get “our take” on the papal visit. During the interviews I did, I discovered a few themes developing that generally went something like: “Why isn’t Pope Benedict’s pending trip to America not a bigger deal?” or “Don’t the statistics about Catholic practice among young adults in the United States indicate that the pope is out of touch with the reality of American life?” There seemed to be some real skepticism about just how relevant Pope Benedict was and how much his trip to the United States truly mattered.
In an age where media…

April 25th, 2008
An up-close and personal experience of Pope Benedict's visit from a Jewish woman's perspective

In the eighteen months since the launch of Sirius Satellite Radio’s Catholic Channel, Robyn Gould has certainly seen the Catholic Church from more angles than most people ever will in their lifetimes. As the producer of “The BustedHalo Show” with Paulist Father Dave Dwyer, Gould is in charge of booking guests and planning a three hour show (7-10PM EST) every Monday to Friday night.
During her tenure, the thirty-something has dealt with guests ranging from Deepak Chopra to Cardinals visiting from the Vatican. In addition to her behind-the-scenes duties, Gould plays a major on-air role as a sidekick to Fr. Dave, bringing her perspective as a Jewish woman to the show’s lively discussion…

April 17th, 2008
Covering Pope Benedict's visit to the United States

Yankee Pope …
Constantly Alert
“Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity – even in secular affairs

April 11th, 2008
Seekers find salvation in New Age capital of America

Yvonne Draper came to Sedona to kill herself. With a ruptured disc in her back, a hip that slid out of the socket, knees and ankles that constantly went out, Draper was in chronic pain. Also burdened by personal and financial setbacks, Draper was ready to give it up in the place voted by USA Weekend as the most beautiful in America.
“But then,” she says, “something got in the way—Sedona.” Draper said when she arrived in Sedona in 2002 she was seduced by it natural beauty: towering red monoliths, wind-chiseled canyons and breathtaking crimson vistas.
Yet, it wasn’t Sedona’s scenic charm alone that saved her, but it’s spiritual energy. “The vortexes helped…

April 9th, 2008
Singer, songwriter, seeker, activist

It is the most standard of questions in any interview with a musician: ‘Who are your influences?’ So standard (and cliched) in fact that readers will often breeze right past it to get to the juicier parts “Beatles…blah, blah, blah….Dylan…blah, blah, blah… Stones…blah, blah…Did I mention that Brad and Angelina will be starring in my next video?”
But when a singer/songwriter like Carrie Newcomer includes the names of theologians, religious leaders and famous authors among her influences, clearly the traditional categories no longer apply. On her 11th studio album, The Geography of Light… Newcomer is not destroying old categories as much

April 4th, 2008
The former Master General of the Dominican Order worldwide discusses freedom, truth, sexuality and healing a polarized Church

As he bounds off the stage in his white friar’s habit into the large audience in an Anaheim Convention Center ballroom, Timothy Radcliffe, OP seems to have the energy of a man half his 63 years. He is away from the stage only momentarily to listen to a question from an audience member before he turns and moves quickly back to reclaim the microphone on the dais and offer his response. In person, Radcliffe gives the impression —at least to American eyes — of a delightfully eccentric and irrepressible British academic who wouldn’t be out of place as a visiting professor at Harry Potter…‘s Hogwarts Academy (as one of the “good guys” of course).
That impression is not entirely

March 30th, 2008
Controversial Catholic youth minister Justin Fatica is tough and bruised, but soft-hearted, and few dispute he has a knack for reaching troubled kids

The children who show up for Kids ALIVE in Burlington’s Old North End number between 40 and 50, and most range in age from about 8 to 16. Many live nearby, in poverty. On a grey, snowy Saturday morning in February, they trudge in from the cold, filling a small, blue-and-white room in an old building on Elmwood Avenue, and shed their coats, hats and snow boots. The younger kids are shepherded to an adjacent playroom; the rest linger and chatter until a pastor, who oversees the weekly, nondenominational outreach program, leads them in some opening music. They sing: “Jesus loves me, this I know…”
The crowd is larger than usual today, and the reason for this is a young man named Justin Fatica, who…

March 27th, 2008

A fourteen-year-old girl—
on tip-toe in the attic—
saw the huge horse-chestnut,
Westerkerk tower, and the random
flight of gulls. “Our tree
is in full blossom . . . even
more beautiful than last year,”
she wrote, on May 13th,
1944.
A nightingale once built
her nest beside the house
of a poet. He was ill.
He sat beneath a plum
one day, and when he returned,
his hands were filled with the scraps
of stanzas. Here is the plum:
I know I shouldn’t, but
I pluck one leaf, I crush it,
place it beneath my tongue,
releasing its bitter mint.
Praise to the angel’s wordless
gaze—her angled cut,
the balm of moss—who coaxes
the root, who stakes the shoot
of the chestnut and the plum.…

March 19th, 2008
Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet

Holy Thursday begins what has been traditionally called the Sacred Triduum in Holy Week. It is the time in the Church’s calendar in which we liturgically commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The significance of Holy Thursday is found at the Passover celebration of the Last Supper during which Jesus instituted the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Though the conventional thinking is that the Chrism Mass—generally held earlier in Holy Week—celebrates the gift of Holy Orders and the liturgy for Holy Thursday focuses on the gift of the Eucharist, there is another form of priesthood that is commemorated on Holy Thursday that is often overlooked.
It would make…

March 17th, 2008
Seen and Hurd in the Holy Land

A few weeks ago, I stood in the sacred spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The Baptism site is in Jordan and I was in-country for a week to staff a high-level delegation of my organization that was looking at the Iraqi refugee crisis in Jordan and Syria. (Millions of Iraqis have fled violence in Iraq and have either sought safety as refugees in the region, mostly in Jordan and Syria, or are trapped inside Iraq; many others who have been unable to flee are also in need.
Though my reason for traveling to this part of the world was work-related, my trip occured only six years since I too was baptized and ended a lifetime of saying “No” to God or “I don’t know” about God. While my work is…

March 14th, 2008
An American nun sees the Iraqi refugee crisis up close

Shame and sorrow—those were the two words Sister Anne Curtis uses to describe how she felt after meeting face-to-face with Iraqi refugees. “The feelings were very intense,” she recalls. “As a citizen of the United States, seeing before me the suffering of Iraqis as a result of our government’s war against their country, I was personally stricken.” Sister Anne is part of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Leadership Team. In January, she was amongst a delegation of women religious traveling to the Middle East to meet with Iraqi refugees. The trip, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, took them to Lebanon and Syria, where significant numbers of displaced Iraqis are…

March 14th, 2008
Asking ancient questions in Africa

For years before I actually traveled there, I dreamed of Africa. Elephants and gazelle and women with long necks infiltrated the landscape of my sleep. When I say that I dreamed of Africa, I mean that I actually… did, but I also mean that I longed for it. So when I was accepted to a study abroad program in Kenya during my junior year in college, it seemed that the planets had finally aligned. I had the distinctive feeling that I was standing at a threshold.
But, when friends and acquaintances asked “Why Africa?” I had no good answer. All I knew was that this need to travel to this distant continent had bubbled up in me in a way that could no longer be contained. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was restlessness or

March 13th, 2008
Searching for the "right place"

For years I felt a gap between my parents and me—a gap of time and geography. When they were young, their social lives revolved around church; few of my good friends regularly attend. They’ve always urged me to “find a good church” where I could become part of a community. I’d patiently tell them that I have to make my own way; that I have friends; that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. I knew they just wanted me to be happy—wanted me to find the security in the church that they had found growing up in the Midwest in the 50′s and 60′s.
But I live in Manhattan, I’d tell them, and we’re in the 80′s, the 90′s, the 00′s.
I grew up…

March 12th, 2008

Before I went to bed, I made sure I was clean. I purified the tub with all the soap in the tiny shampoo bottle. Immersed myself in steaming water. Held my nose. Submerged. I envisioned the ritual baths called mikvehs… that we had read about in a Judaism class I had taken in college. The class had been offended by the idea of women having to purify themselves monthly. But I no longer saw it that way. I scrubbed at my feet and my hands to make sure that they were unsoiled. Clean and pure: I made up a pallet of blankets from the second bed on the floor. Faced my sandals toward the east. I slept without dreams.
I woke at midnight and ripped the sheets from the unused bed, wrapped them around me. Kind of like my fourth grade attempt at being

March 10th, 2008
Box, Wine and Love Letter

In the living room of my next-door neighbors’ house is a wooden crate. It’s nothing fancy, just pieces of plywood nailed together, but Kim and Matt keep the box in a place of honor by the fireplace as a constant reminder of their commitment to each other.
When Kim and Matt took their vows of marriage four years ago, they incorporated a new twist into their celebration: It’s called the box, wine and love-letter ceremony, and I wanted to share this beautiful idea with Busted Halo…® readers.
Kim and Matt found a strong wooden box to hold two bottles of wine and two wine glasses. Each of them wrote a love-letter to the other, expressing their feelings, why and how they fell in love and their hopes for

March 7th, 2008
Excerpted from Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God

For many Catholics, Marian apparition sites are tightly linked to the idea of healing. The places where Mary came to Earth are usually viewed as holy ground, charged with the promise of heavenly power and divine intervention. Nowhere is this more true than at Lourdes, France, where in 1858 Mary appeared repeatedly to Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl. At Mary’s instruction, Bernadette dug in the dirt, uncovering a spring. Thousands of medical miracles have since been attributed to the spring’s healing waters; of these cures, sixty-seven have been officially recognized as miracles by the church. With 5 million visitors a year, Lourdes is one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the world.…

March 6th, 2008
A Reform Jew Explores Her Fear of Orthodoxy

We see Rabbi X. walking down the streets of our small Southern city, and we see others staring at him. He wears the outfit of a Jew from Eastern Europe, circa1800—a long black wool coat, a fur hat—and it looks hot in the middle of a sunny North Carolina day. In October, we see him striding down the street carrying the lulav, the palm stalk that Jews wave in the direction of Jerusalem to celebrate Sukko…t, the Jewish harvest festival. There is something strange and touching about him, one of a handful of Chasidic Jews in our city, a town with nothing but a small number of Jews in it, spread among the denominations of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.

It is moving at first to see Rabbi X. I feel a sort of nostalgic

March 3rd, 2008
A Jewish Mother Considers Family, Tradition and the Pain of Belonging

Eight days after birth, a Jewish male infant is circumcised in a ceremony called the bris milah (bris means “covenant” in Hebrew). It’s a party: relatives and friends gather to watch; the baby gets a drop of wine to dull the pain and then sits on his grandfather’s lap; his grandfather holds him steady. The mohel…—a specialist trained in both the Jewish ritual and medical procedure of circumcision—says the prayers and then quickly cuts off the baby’s foreskin. The whole thing is done in less than a minute, and then the guests talk and eat while the infant, after a storm of crying, usually falls asleep, exhausted by the commotion.

Bris Milah is the oldest ritual in Judaism,

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