Busted Halo
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April 4th, 2007
Holy Week in Haiti

So look, if the divine made flesh really did roll into town to adulating crowds only to be betrayed, tortured, killed and then, holy god, rise from the dead, shouldn’t we be dancing in the streets?
Easter. The birthday of the church. The most holy Catholic festival. A day for really dressing up.
But if we’re taking it seriously, if we’re really taking to heart this utterly insane story of a savior executed and miraculously raised from the dead, doesn’t it call for something more than a dry-cleaned spring dress and a rack of lamb?
Shake It
Last Palm Sunday I was in Haiti, part of a group of Americans visiting the Caribbean nation to learn about grassroots efforts at environmental preservation…

March 30th, 2007
Beyond words and Into Great Silence

At the beginning of March, Philip Groning’s film Into Great Silence—a two-hour and forty-minute meditation on life in the Grande Chartreuse Carthusian monastery in southeastern France—opened at a theatre in New York City for a two-week run. But when each of the three daily showings continued to sell out, the theatre owners put a “Held Over” sign on the marquee after the film’s title. Now, at month’s end, it’s still playing to a full house. Patrons are buying their tickets on-line the day before in order to ensure they get a seat.
All this for a film in which, for the first two hours, the loudest sounds are of rain falling, birds chirping, an axe splitting wood,…

March 27th, 2007
A young Atlanta priest uses a popular morning show as his hip-hop pulpit

by Is God using Naomi Campbell to teach us a lesson? The man Atlantans know as “Father Crunk” seems to think so. Here’s what he had to say about the supermodel, whose cell phone assault of her former maid resulted in “mop duty” at New York’s Sanitation Department this month—”We need to teach bullies a lesson. Bullies need to have the fear of God in them when they start trippin’. You can deal with bullies and still be loved by God.”
For those who may be hip-hop impaired, “crunk” is a type of hip-hop music that originated from the South. A fusion of the words ‘crazy’ and ‘drunk,’ “crunk” music is meant…

March 22nd, 2007
How the history of Chile can help us

Imagine being tortured and raped, and then being forced to watch as the ‘evil-doers’ rape your daughter. All the while you know you do not have the information they want. You simply do not know where your son is, and these security forces want to find him.
No, this is not some plot out of a Stephen King novel. This atrocity actually happened in Chile in the early 1980s when the U.S supported, brutal Pinochet dictatorship was in power. As part of my formation as a Jesuit priest, I served in Chile from 1981-1984. Everyone was aware of the practice of torture in the country. The protest group Sebastian Acevedo regularly, and at great risk to themselves, publicly denounced the use of torture. The group was named…

March 14th, 2007
Robert Siegel's All Will Be Revealed

Robert Anthony Siegel’s new novel All Will Be Revealed combines an engrossing plot with intricately drawn characters and a rich historical setting to create a book that is both entertaining and artistic in a way that literary novels so rarely are.
The book tells the story of Augustus Auerbach, a successful, wheelchair-bound pornographer living in late nineteenth century New York City and Verena Swann, a renowned spiritual medium and the widow of adventurer Captain Theodore Swann. The two meet when one of Auerbach’s models forces him to attend a séance at Swann’s home. At first skeptical, Auerbach becomes entranced by Swann who is able to summon her failing powers to channel Auerbach’s…

March 6th, 2007
An exclusive excerpt from the soon-to-be-released novel, ALL WILL BE REVEALED, by a BustedHalo contributing editor

Verena Swann sat in her carriage, peeking through the curtain at the crowd of mourners filling the avenue. Derbies, bonnets, slick black umbrellas, here and there a pale, wet face like a camellia—pointed straight at her. They were waiting for her to open the door and get out, to become theirs—waiting for a woman who loved her husband so much she would not let him go, even in death.

Leopold, her brother-in-law, peered over her shoulder. “Look at this,” he whispered. “Thousands standing in the rain, for you.”

“For him,” she corrected. It was uncomfortable hearing the thought aloud. This was Theodore’s funeral, after all. They were here to honor him, to…

February 26th, 2007
A different kind of minority

The St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School elementary girls’ basketball team was winning.
Again.
The Nashville school was almost all black, and they were playing a mostly white Catholic school. The white girls showed frowns of frustration—even anger—as did their parents in the bleachers. After the buzzer sounded, the girls started leaving the court when a couple of white girls from the losing squad called the St. Vincent team “niggers.”
The event wasn’t a bad memory from the civil rights era, Crystal Shelton, 20, is now an African American basketball player at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, recalled the incident from her elementary school days as she tried…

February 23rd, 2007
The star and director of Amazing Grace discuss religion, politics and the life of William Wilberforce

Though less-renowned in the United States than in Great Britain, William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a member of Parliament who fought an epic battle for two decades to end the slave trade in the British Empire. While he is remembered primarily as legendary social reformer, Wilberforce’s tireless commitment to justice was animated by his deeply held Christian faith. His convictions were nurtured under the mentorship of John Newton, the former slave ship captain who renounced his work and devoted the rest of his life to Christian ministry (he also composed numerous hymns including the timeless “Amazing Grace”).
In the newly released film, Amazing Grace, Wilberforce’s life is…

February 21st, 2007
A brief checklist to make sure your resolutions make sense

As a child, Lent represented a springtime of denial leading up to the chocolate-filled celebration of Easter, but as an adult I now understand a bit more why Christians have traditionally embraced the threefold Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Simply put, we are creatures of habit and Lent gives us a reason each year to look at our habits and to see which ones draw us closer to God and which ones drive us further away from Him.
Having had too many New Year’s resolutions derailed by trying to fix everything at once, I’ve developed a brief discernment process regarding Lenten resolutions that has borne fruit for me in years past. Typically, I start thinking about the whole topic in the…

February 20th, 2007
The spiritual death of Anna Nicole Smith

“Like My Body?” she slurs, lacing her fingers up her voluptuous figure and then throwing them up in the air. Introducing Kanye West at the 2004 American Music Awards, Anna Nicole Smith, high on drugs, spreads her arms saying, “If ever I make an album, I want this guy to make my make me beautiful duet!” As she lowers her head and claps, the crowd roars its approval.
But the scene is eerie, the sound of her voice alluding to the TrimSpa ad campaign for which she was the spokeswoman is almost haunting after her death. Her tottering appearance drew much publicity and comic fodder throughout the rest of the program, and her representatives, of course, scrambled to cover it up saying Anna’s…

February 12th, 2007
Happy Valentine's Day! Is Love Dead?

You can feel it in the air—the mad rush on Tiffany’s, restaurants booked-up for prix fixe dinners, store shelves cleared of teddy bears, chocolate and flowers. (And if you’re waiting until now to pick up any of these, good luck.)
Valentine’s Day—”Lovers’ Day,” as it’s called in the Romance languages—is right around the corner. It’s been celebrated for centuries, but these days, for my generation, I can’t help but wonder sometimes what February 14th means to us… and what it doesn’t.
Not-So-Inner
My inner amateur sociologist has long maintained a particular curiosity about relationships, partly because mine…

February 7th, 2007
The painfully amusing genius of HBO's "Extras"

Andy Millman is the patron saint of resentment. The perpetually put-upon actor has love handles but no love life, recently landed a role in a sitcom that has been generously described as a “sh*tcom,” and retains the professional services of the worst talent agent in the United Kingdom. Yet in the hands of Ricky Gervais, the star and co-creator of the HBO series “Extras,” (Sunday nights on HBO at 10pm) Andy Millman’s unending misery is comic delight.
“Extras,” which centers on the awful travails of Millman’s bizarre career, is the funniest and cleverest show on TV. Now in its second season, it is yet another reason to buy a subscription to HBO. (In addition to…

January 26th, 2007
Siblings Clare and Mary Byrne combine music and dance into something sacred

As the children of two academics who met while studying theology, growing up in the Byrne clan meant that religion was always about more than simply going to church on Sunday.
It still is. Now adults, Mary Byrne, a rock guitarist and Clare Byrne, a modern dancer, say Catholicism, the search for God and a sense of enacting holy rituals infuses their art. The rest of the family is similarly engaged with faith. One sister is a writer and comedian, their brother—who is also a musician—and father are starting an organic farm and intentional community in North Carolina. The oldest sister is the chair of Catholic Studies at Hofstra University.
Sense of Celebration
“We definitely grew up with a lot of…

January 23rd, 2007
Meditations for Finding Peace by Nicole Sotelo

“Your faith has made you well,” Jesus says to a woman who seeks out his healing presence. “Go in peace, and be healed…” (Mark 5:34). Many people who have suffered as a result of disease, divorce, death or other tragedies speak to faith’s capacity to heal and comfort. In her first book, Women Healing from Abuse: Meditations for Finding Peace, Nicole Sotelo highlights resources from the Christian tradition with the hope that they may provide spiritual healing to women who have suffered from different forms of abuse, whether they be economic, emotional, physical, and/or sexual.
Sotelo—who also serves as a contributing editor for BustedHalo.com— reports…

January 19th, 2007
BustedHalo discusses life in the spotlight with the most high-profile Christian band in the post-hardcore rock scene.

Though self-identified Christian bands have been slowly breaking down the distinctions between the music that appears on the mainstream music charts and the albums that are normally trapped in the Christian music ghetto, the morning of June 20, 2006 marked a watershed moment with the release of Underoath’s Define the Great Line. One week and 98,000 copies later, they occupied the #2 album slot on the Billboard Top 200 chart. If Christian bands were supposed to only sell records to the converted, someone forgot to tell the legion of kids across the country that went to their local music store and plopped down $18 for Underoath’s latest assessment of the contemporary Christian life.
This was Underoath—a…

January 17th, 2007
Revisiting the faith of my father

It was a cold day in October, and I was walking down a street on New York’s Lower East Side, toward a small wooden building with a flight of steps at the front. Built in 1820 as a synagogue, it had only recently been reconsecrated and put back into use as a place of worship. At the doorway stood members of the congregation, welcoming the small stream of worshipers climbing the stairs. “Come in, welcome, join us,” they said, and I could feel my heart beating faster. I was excited but frightened. It was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement—the holiest day of the Jewish calendar—and I was about to step into a synagogue for the first time in more than fifty years.
I am 72 years old, and though I was born…

January 12th, 2007
An American Saint

“The world is all messed up, the nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around.”
As the scourges of a never-ending war continue to dominate our national debate, division trumps common ground in the public square, and our leaders play political games while the marginalized continue to suffer in society’s shadows, it would be hard to find a truer sentiment than the one above to describe the American situation today.
In reality, though, these were the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoken in Memphis the night before he died nearly 40 years ago. But sickness, confusion and trouble, weren’t all he saw.
“But I know somehow,” Dr. King went on, “that only…

January 10th, 2007
An experienced capital defender makes the case against Saddam's execution

The morning Saddam Hussein was executed, my wife warned me not to go on the internet. Of course, I soon went online, but instantly knew I should have heeded her advice. Pictures of Saddam’s execution were everywhere. The images depressed and profoundly saddened me. The emotions were no surprise, but their depth and duration were. I have wondered since that morning why I remain so troubled by the execution of a man who unquestionably was a thug, a mass murderer and a war criminal.
I have spent the past sixteen years representing people on death row and teaching students about the death penalty. My opposition to the death penalty stems, in large part, from my Catholic belief in the sanctity of human life. Of course…

January 9th, 2007
The real-life team chaplain remembers the tragedy depicted in the film We Are Marshall

In 1970, Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, faced a tragedy of epic proportions when it lost its entire football squad, along with coaching staff, boosters and family members in a plane crash. The recently released film, We Are Marshall tells the story of how this tiny steel town coped with the loss of loved ones, and how Jack Lengyel (played by Matthew McConaughey) took the coaching reigns and tried not only to rebuild an athletic team, but also a community.
Paulist Father Bob Scott—who was the campus minister and chaplain for Marshall University’s football team at the time—would’ve perished along with everyone else had he not stayed behind to work on campus that weekend.…

January 5th, 2007
Battling for the heart of Jewish mysticism, Hollywood and the Hasidim offer different paths

One rabbi who studied it grew crazy, one died and another became so bewildered that he lost his faith. According to Jewish tradition, the study of the Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism is not only powerful but also downright dangerous.
“Woe to the person who says that the Torah shares with us plain stories and mundane matters,” says the Zohar (Radiance), the traditional text of the Kabbalah, “…. rather all the matters in the Torah are supernal matters and supernal secrets.”
For centuries the study of the Kabbalah was forbidden, reserved only for Jewish males over 40, who were well-versed in Torah, but since its recent adoption by Hollywood celebrities, there has been a battle raging…

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