Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
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 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 5th, 2008

I grew up with the accoutrements of pipe organs
filling our garage, some as small as piccolos,
some arriving like giants in rough-hewn crates.
On occasional Saturdays, I helped my father tune
what he had built inside quiet churches, each dim
as an underwater scene, each cool as a cave
no matter what season. I preferred the older
sanctuaries with their faint smell of damp,
with their dark mahogany pews and marble floors
that would clack beneath women’s Sunday heels.
I walked with my father the length of the nave
toward where a crucifix hung like a compass,
then veered right or left toward the organ’s console.
Before he disappeared down some dark hallway
like he would one day disappear forever, my father…

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,

February 28th, 2008
The Mormon Church is busy growing (and challenging misconceptions)

“You’re not true Christians,” shouts the barrel-chested 43-year-old Lonie Pursifull to a group of Mormons passing through Temple Square, the world headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City, Utah. “You’re not following the true gospel of Jesus Christ. You’re liars. You’re of your father—the devil.”
Pursifull pastors the Wildness Bible Church in Duchesne, about 90 miles outside of Salt Lake City. He says off and on for the last 13 years—despite being hit 16 times in the face and receiving 23 death threats—he’s come to Temple Square to preach to Mormons.
Ryan Sanchez listens not too far…

February 26th, 2008
Young Catholics might be more serious about marriage than they are about the Church

Catholic young adults place great importance on marriage but have turned away from church-based ideas of how to make it work, according to a study released last week by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

For Catholic members of the “millennial generation,” men and women born between 1982 and 1989, marriage is not to be undertaken lightly. Some 82% of these teens and 20-somethings report that they believe marriage is a lifelong commitment, compared with only 56% of Catholics age 47 to 64—approximately their parents’ generation. Moreover, 84% of these young Catholic adults report concern that “couples don’t take marriage seriously…

February 15th, 2008
On being Black and Catholic in America

It was as if I was a kid again. The gospel choir numbering at least 30 strong lifted their voices to the rooftop. The pulse of the music, aided by drums, a saxophone, a bass, and a huge sound system, shook the rafters and rushed through my veins. My hands almost instinctively came together to clap as I joined in song. Praise and worship showered over the largely African American congregation with the joy-filled “Alleluia” and “Amen” bursting from every corner of the church. All the great memories of going to church with my dad came rushing back to me. The only difference was, instead of this being a Southern Baptist congregation like that of my father’s, the stations of the cross along…

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 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…

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 22nd, 2008
Third Wheel: Is the married vs. single dynamic causing a strain in your friendships?

Anita, 26, had two close friends in college. These were the girls she could always call for a chat, who would be interested in planning a fun trip, going shopping, or confiding secrets. But a few years after college, both women got married—and Anita felt left out in the cold.
“They’re really not my best friends anymore” she told me. “Their husbands have become their best friend and it has put distance between us.”
Anita said she feels pressure to find a guy and settle down so she can reestablish her friendship with these women, as part of a couple. “It’s like they’re part of this married club that they’re waiting for me to join in. But I’m not planning…

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 18th, 2008
An illustrated slideshow

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 7th, 2008
Young and restless

Justin Brandon has been weighing his options. The 25-year-old San Francisco resident recently applied to Stanford’s highly competitive MBA program, but even if admitted, he isn’t sure he wants to leave his job at Better World Books, the promising dot-com where he has coordinated online marketing since June.
Brandon isn’t used to feeling so content about a job. In the three years since he graduated from the University of Notre Dame, he has done extended volunteer work in Puerto Rico, served as a video production assistant at Notre Dame, shot documentary films in Ghana and Haiti, and worked as a search quality technician for Google in Silicon Valley.
“Every year,” he said, “part…

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 19th, 2007
A Thank You… and an Appeal

I pray that your 2007 has been a blessed and fruitful one, and that your spiritual journey has drawn you closer to God and a community of faith. For us here at Busted Halo®, it’s been a year chock full of new adventures. In addition to the top-notch articles, interviews and spiritual reflections published here on the site, many of which you no doubt enjoyed (the “Best Of” which will be highlighted next week), other areas of outreach under the Busted Halo® umbrella have also taken off.
The spiritual items available at our Halo Store have nearly doubled. “Busted Video” made its debut through the magic of YouTube. We launched a line of books for spiritual seekers in their 20s…

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