Busted Halo
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February 13th, 2008
Rather than condemning The Vagina Monologues the Church should be listening to what it is telling us

“The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time,” wrote Pope Paul VI in 1975. Occasionally I am reminded of this “drama” when some Catholic group boycotts something. But nothing makes me more aware of how deep this split is than the debate over the performance of The Vagina Monologues …on Catholic college campuses.
The Cardinal Newman Society has waged the most aggressive and successful campaign to remove the play from these campuses. They claim that the number of performances has declined annually from a peak of 32 on Catholic campuses in 2003 to 19 performances this year. College presidents and bishops have also added to the drama. Some of the responses

February 12th, 2008
Security concerns for Barack Obama are evidence that race is still very much an issue for some Americans

Recently, several media outlets, including the New York Times, have printed stories on the increased security surrounding the Senator and his family. “Obama must be wary of the assassin’s gun” was a headline in The Australian…, a major newspaper in the land down under. Members of white hate groups increase their rabid, racist rhetoric on the internet, cowardly hiding their identities behind anonymous website login names, just as they used to hide under white hoods.
Whites should be infuriated and ashamed when we learn that a Google search “assassinate Obama” gets almost 200,000 hits. I am disgusted when I realize the admirable and brave Michelle Obama and her beautiful little

February 8th, 2008
An Orthodox Christian college student ponders salvation

So Heath Ledger passed away a few weeks ago, the final outcome of a long struggle with depression, substances, and wild living. While the thousands dying of starvation and neglect around the world are undeniably a bigger concern, I did find myself shocked and saddened. Although my generation has seen turmoil and tragedy in the world, from 9/11 to Iraq to Katrina, we haven’t really had a single Kurt Cobain-type figure around whom we can rally.
My favorite authors, from theologian Rob Bell to columnist Chuck Klosterman, find deeper meaning in pop culture, and in my own life, art, music, literature and film have always been tied to understanding God and appreciating His universe. I was baptized and raised Orthodox…

February 5th, 2008
When will the Church comment on the evils of Big Tobacco?

There’s a new cigarette on it’s way, one which Philip Morris, the world’s largest producer of cigarette products, hopes will meet the changing cultural and social needs of today’s smokers. The soon-to-be-launched “Marlboro Intense” will allow smokers to cope with indoor smoking bans by taking quick, deep puffs of a shorter but more potent cigarette during a quick outdoor break.
It’s an insidiously brilliant idea—and one that has global human implications to which the Catholic Church must pay attention.
Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International will become two separate companies, parent company, Altria, announced this week. By doing this,…

February 4th, 2008
Men, women and sports

My husband isn’t speaking to me. He isn’t speaking to anyone, really. He’s crushed by the Patriots defeat in last night’s SuperBowl.

I’m not that chatty either, but not because I care one way or another about the Giants’ upset last night. I’m just exhausted from hosting a big SuperBowl party, after a weekend of traveling.
I got up at 4 a.m. to fly from New York City (where LaGuardia was all decked out in Giants banners) to Iowa City. A snowstorm was headed for us, but I couldn’t be delayed: We were hosting 25 people for a SuperBowl party.
Super Snow Storm
Crazy? Yes. I don’t recommend hosting a party on a day which you begin 1000 miles away. But as the saying goes,…

January 30th, 2008
Ginny Kubitz Moyer's book, Mary and Me offers contemporary women's experience of the Blessed Mother

For many young women, their sense of Mary, mother of Jesus, is relatively one-dimensional. They recall a humble, pious woman who was submissive to both her husband and her God. Or she’s the woman in blue whom we crown with roses every May and who adorns our gardens peacefully. The modern female, it might seem, would have little in common with a woman who seems so out of touch with contemporary life.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer’s book, Mary and Me… (St Anthony Messenger Press, Jan. 2008) shatters all those presumptions by compiling reflections and stories from 46 modern women of all ages about their relationships with Mary. While the author uses traditional Marian titles like “Our Lady of Sorrows”

January 25th, 2008
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood stuns and confounds

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood… literally starts off with a thud. Only a few minutes into the film, set in late 19th and early 20th century California, the protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) loses his grip on a ladder and plunges down a shaft where he’s been excavating for silver.
When Plainview emerges, small chunk of silver ore in hand, Anderson shows us his changing fortunes with a few, quick brushstrokes. We see Plainview lying on the floor of an office, stretching the leg he shattered in the plummet, while surveyors certify his valuable discovery. From there he’s onto oil. He strikes crude with a small crew, and before long he’s making successful,

January 21st, 2008
Looking at Obama through King's eyes

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Almost 45 years ago, the Baptist preacher whom our nation honors every third Monday in January, delivered a speech that is easily one of the greatest in American history. In it, he laid out his vision for what a beautiful country America could become despite the indelible marks left by racism and hatred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fought within a hostile political, religious and cultural context to bring about unity, equality and peace. His speech, “I Have a Dream” was a rallying cry for change. And now, decades later,…

January 15th, 2008
New prayer website encourages people to look for God bubbling up beyond Sunday

Food, water and shelter are universal needs that transcend borders, age, gender, race, class and religion. But a visit to www.Other6.com is enough to demonstrate that human beings hunger and thirst for something less tangible but more profound: the presence of God.
On any given day at the site, you’ll find a South African man seeking conversation and inspiration, or a grieving Chicagoan asking for strength following the recent deaths of three family members. They—and hundreds of other people—are finding hope, enlightenment and solace on Other6, an innovative web site launched by Loyola Press for people of all faiths who desire deeper meaning in their daily lives. Father Paul Campbell…

January 10th, 2008
Behar's bad "View" on Saints

Whoopi Goldberg is a great comedian. So is Joy Behar. But, as it turns out, they’re not great theologians. On the daytime talk show “The View” this past Wednesday, the conversation turned, somewhat improbably, to the saints. What happened next would burn up the wires of the Catholic blogosphere for the next few days.
First, Ms. Goldberg said that Catholics pray to statues, and so therefore we were praying to idols. Well, not exactly. Catholics don’t pray to statues, any more than you think that a photo on your desk of your dog actually is your dog. And when we do pray to a saint to ask for their prayers, it’s the same as asking a friend to pray for us. But that’s a popular misconception,…

January 4th, 2008
or, how I almost committed election fraud

Caucusing can be confusing. But I was giddy all day about this opportunity to make a difference and shape national politics. I mean, how complicated can caucusing really be?
As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I’m new here, but I understand that Iowans have a big responsibility to serve as a screening instrument for the nation. So I was prepared: I learned about viability and I understood how delegates would be elected. I’d met many of the presidential candidates. I packed bottles of water and snacks in case things ran late.
Just know from the start I was prepared and taking things seriously, OK?
When I arrived at my caucus site—a local high school—I had to register to vote. I filled out my form, chatting…

January 3rd, 2008
Our intrepid reporter gets a birdseye look at the Iowa Caucus experience

I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker. I don’t make eye contact with strangers as I walk down the street. I lived in the same apartment building for decades, and couldn’t tell you my neighbors’ names. And when it came to voting, I’d usually cast an absentee ballot, in the privacy of my own home, and then refuse to disclose my vote to even my closest friends (and never to my parents).
This year, for reasons unfathomable to many of my city-slicker friends, I left New York City and moved to Iowa City. And all of a sudden, my life has become public…. Folks stop and say hi to me on the street, my neighbors organized a block party to welcome my husband and I, and tonight I’m going to stand in the cafeteria

January 2nd, 2008
Many LDS members hope Mitt Romney's candidacy will shatter stereotypes

What does it take to shatter a stereotype? Advertising executives have their own recipe: cook up a snappy creative campaign, stir in a few press releases, serve in major media centers. This may work for consumer products, but changing the popular perception of a cultural or religious group is a social study of enormous proportions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently engaged in this decades-long process.
With the media coverage of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, all of America is witnessing or participating in the Church’s struggle. Mormons themselves of course hope that one man—one presidential candidate—can change the way the nation perceives…

December 22nd, 2007
"A Christmas Carol" Lives On

If there’s one story everyone knows, it’s “A Christmas Carol.” The saga of the miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s meanest man into a grateful, humble, compassionate human being has touched untold millions—more like billions—of people since its publication 164 years ago. It hit the stands December 16, 1843, and within a week had sold 6,000 copies. What writer today wouldn’t kill for that kind of a success?
“A Christmas Carol” has been so popular and enduring, in fact, that it’s become part of our very linguistic heritage. Expressions like “Bah, humbug!” and “God bless us, every one!” are…

December 21st, 2007
Christmas consolation...a belated obituary

It’s a Wonderful Life, is a great story, and I hope yours is a Bedford Falls kind of life. But our Pottervilles, both social and personal, still cry out for salvation, most poignantly during Advent and Christmastime.
I write this without attaching my name in deference to my mother and my family, who in no way need nor deserve to be exposed in an article of this nature. Still I write, hopefully, to comfort and console, especially at Christmas, those like us who experienced the death of a family member whom we wanted to love.
It was a little over a year ago that I received word that my father had died. To make things more painful, we learned that he had died two weeks earlier. It was just a strange coincidence that saw the…

December 20th, 2007
The filmmaking brothers follow up their groundbreaking 9/11 documentary with In God's Name

On the morning of September 11, 2001 French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet—who had been working for three months on a documentary on firemen—found themselves filming inside the World Trade Towers as they collapsed. The events they captured on film that morning became the basis for their Emmy and Peabody Award winning documentary 9/11. According to Jules, their first-hand experience of that tragedy became the “first step in a journey that would take us around the world searching for answers to the meaning of life.”
That journey is chronicled in In God’s Name, which is the Naudets’ first film since 9/11. In God’s Name… (Sunday, December 23, CBS, 9:00-11:00 PM,

December 18th, 2007
A Modern Pagan Talks about Solstice, Christmas and the Spiritual Search

“I hope I’ll get it as a gift for Solstice,” said Andrea Bunch at a recent party when talking about a bottle of wine she had laid eyes on. Solstice is December 21st, the shortest day of light in the year and it is celebrated by Pagans and NeoPagans around the world. Andrea, 31, is a teacher in Chicago, an accomplished musician with two albums, and a NeoPagan. Before you start thinking only about broomsticks and the Salem Witch Trials, think again; our interview with Bunch answers everything you ever wanted to know about Pagan spirituality but were afraid to ask.
BustedHalo: Were you raised with a particular faith or religion?…
Andrea Bunch: Not specifically, but [my family] went to a Unitarian church.

December 17th, 2007
Why The First Christmas is not like any Nativity story you've ever heard before

Two years ago, biblical scholars John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg published The Last Week, a fascinating day-by-day account, based on Mark’s gospel, of how Jesus spent his final week in Jerusalem. Now, they’ve teamed up again to explore the beginning of Jesus’ life, unraveling what the news of his birth meant 2,000 years ago, so we can better understand its significance today.
In The First Christmas…, Crossan and Borg argue that the nativity story is far richer and more challenging than familiar sentimentalized versions allow. Not simply tidings of comfort and joy, the gospel stories of Jesus’ birth are also edgy visions of another way of life, confronting the status quo and demanding

December 13th, 2007
Mailer's final book reimagines God, the devil, heaven, hell and our search for meaning in the world

Who is God? Is he the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being of Judeo-Christian thought? Or might he be something less ultimate, more vulnerable? Might he even need our help? And if this is true, if we are God’s last chance, what hope is there for the future of the world?
This kind of freewheeling religious speculation isn’t seen much in contemporary American culture, but if anyone can still pose questions like these it’s Norman Mailer, one of the preeminent literary figures of the last half century.
Mailer, who died in November at the age of 84, was a celebrated writer with a taste for big topics and provocative ideas. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead…, was an instant classic, a gut-wrenching

December 11th, 2007
A young Mormon woman reflects on Mitt Romney’s recent speech on religion and politics

The Wall Street Journal called it “laudable.” The New York Times… called it “tragic.” So what do I think of Mitt Romney’s speech about religion in America last Thursday? As a Yale-educated Mormon woman raised in New York City, I might be expected to think something sophisticated and grand, like “historical” or “inspirational.” My word is actually quite simple: Relieving.
I’ve always trusted that Mitt Romney is a good man. As a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints in the same area where Romney himself goes to church, I’ve been privy to personal testimonials of his character and closeness to God. But his posing as the socially conservative

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