Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
November 19th, 2007
A review of A Jesuit Off-Broadway

In his latest book, James Martin, SJ explores the work of a contemporary priest and exemplifies the quintessential Jesuit as cultured, literate believer who seeks to “find God in all things, in all peoples and in all environments.”
A Jesuit Off-Broadway recounts the months Martin—author of My Life with the Saints and an editor at America magazine—spends as the theological advisor and unofficial chaplain for the LABryinth Theater Company in New York while they mounted a brand new play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. When company member Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James…) took the role of Judas he sought out Martin for crash courses on New Testament theology, the historical

October 29th, 2007
DAM brings the Palestinian struggle into the world of rap

In much of the hip hop music world the constant threat of menace and violence is simply a given. Few would argue that a large part of the music’s appeal is deeply tied up with the sense of danger that certain artists evoke and that considerable energy and resources are spent to establish an artist’s “street cred” by promoting their history of poverty, violence and their prison record. Despite the fact that much of that sense of danger may very well be manufactured, it can make a big difference to the bottom line: music and ticket sales.
As an American in my mid-twenties, hip-hop has been a musical cornerstone of my adolescence. Normally, attending a hip-hop concert on a warm summer night wouldn’t…

October 26th, 2007
The monks of Myanmar move mountains through faith

To the people, they are courageous political activists. To the government, they are conniving political agitators. They have suffered unspeakable cruelty at the hands of a military regime while refraining from exhibiting similar violence. Slowly though, they are changing the tide, armed with nothing but their faith and perseverance. Many people today are quick to blame religion for being the root of all wars and bloodshed in the history of mankind. Certainly the history books offer plenty of evidence to support that observation. But the Buddhist monks of Burma, through their unprecedented protests and now victimization, show that perhaps religion and faith in general are not always the root of war, but…

October 25th, 2007
Earnest but off-key, Bella preaches to the choir

Metanoia films’ mission statement “to make films that matter and have the potential of making a meaningful difference in people’s lives” is both lofty and laudable. To the young company’s credit their first film, Bella has received some attention on the festival circuit—most notably the People’s Choice award at the Toronto film fest—and is about to be released in selected cities over the next few weeks. While Bella… will most likely matter and make a difference to some audiences, its earnest attempts to straddle different worlds has decidedly mixed results.
Much of the story follows the main characters, Nina (Tammy Blanchard, above left) and José

October 17th, 2007
Evening out life's balance sheet

One December, when my fiancée and I were visiting her friend in New Haven, I found a wallet in the stairwell of a parking garage. It was thick with credit and debit cards. There was approximately $55 in cash inside. The driver’s license gave an address in Oregon. A Yale University ID gave the woman’s name, but no address. It seemed unsafe to simply mail it to the address, so when we returned to my father’s home in Massachusetts, I found her on the Yale University directory. She responded to my email. I asked her if I could use some of the cash to cover the cost of mailing it to her, and she said sure, and I sent everything to her.
Why? “Not everyone would have done that,” my fiancée…

October 15th, 2007
The Challenges of Long-Distance Relationships

A few months ago I received a letter from Jeff Klein, a 32-year-old BustedHalo reader. He’d recently begun dating someone who lived seven hours away. Was it feasible to have a relationship? They both led busy, professional lives and had active social lives in their respective cities. What was my advice, Jeff asked. Was a long-distance relationship a good idea?
A long-distance relationship (LDR) is one in which partners reside in separate geographic locations for some reason (work, school, etc.) and reunite (each weekend, each month, a few times a year) for time together. According to academic research on LDRs—yes, academics study long-distance relationships!—voluntary LDRs are on…

September 27th, 2007
The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s

In many ways, the 18-to-34-year-old crowd is a sought-after demographic. Advertisers continually try to lure young fashionistas, techies and foodies with their cutting-edge wares. Television executives craft sitcoms and reality shows hoping to capture the interest of this population. The Catholic Church, too, seeks their energy, enthusiasm and talents.
But appealing to these young adults in way that leads to lifelong commitment presents a challenge. How can an institution with a 2,000 year history, that’s not typically known for its innovation or it speed, attract and engage young adults, who prize the immediacy of text messaging and Google searches, change careers every two to three years,…

September 14th, 2007
The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s

The publication of Mike Hayes’ book Googling God is an important first on a number of levels for everyone involved with BustedHalo. Not only does it mark the publication of our managing editor’s first book, it is also the debut of our new publishing imprint, BustedHalo Books, through Paulist Press. Plans are already underway to publish other titles through BustedHalo Books in the near future, including the Freshman Survival Guide and Moral Dilemmas, so stay tuned. But for now we hope you enjoy this brief excerpt from Googling God.

When Paulist Father Brett Hoover and I founded BustedHalo.com… in 2000, our mission was to minister to the “spiritual but not religious crowd” in their 20s

September 11th, 2007
See, I am making all things new

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said,
“See, I am making all things new.”
Revelation 21: 3-5a…

I met Sandy in November of 2001. She came to a memorial service that my then church, All Saints in Hoboken, NJ was holding for the families of the fifty-two Hoboken residents who never came home from work on September 11th. Sandy had a two-year-old daughter, Rhiannon, and was widowed

September 10th, 2007
My own dark night of the soul in Calcutta

A new book of the letters of Mother Teresa, edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, a Missionaries of Charity priest who is responsible for presenting her case for sainthood to the Vatican, reveals that the founder of the Missionaries of Charity suffered for years with what St. John of the Cross termed “the dark night of the soul.” The letters between Mother Teresa and various spiritual directors and confessors are compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light … (Doubleday 2007). They are vivid, heart-wrenching pleas to a God whose presence she no longer feels when she prays. Mother Teresa’s experience of spiritual dryness doesn’t mean she didn’t believe in God, said Dr. Janet Cousins,

September 1st, 2007
Trying to communicate about faith with young adults? Try listening.

It was my sixth plane ride in a week, and I was tired. I was sick of the tiny, cardboard seats, the slightly antiseptic “recycled air” smell, and the snacks that boasted 6.5 pretzels per bag. Not only that, I didn’t feel very prepared for the presentation I was supposed to give in about 2 hours. As I climbed over splayed legs to get to my seat, I stole a glance at the guy in my row. He looked like he was college aged, and I silently prayed that he would just sleep and give me some time to catch up on my presentation. No such luck.

The first question came just as I sat down: “So, what do you do?”
I went for the surefire conversation stopper, at least with someone college-aged: “I work for the…

August 27th, 2007
for my parents

Why should she want to meet the young preacher waiting in the sitting room?
Paused on the landing, she fears his voice drifting up the stairwell deep and sweet as curing tobacco—pure
Arkansas sharecropper’s son,
reminder of a past her family barely survived. She trembles…

August 22nd, 2007
Young Iraqi refugees struggle to find peace and normalcy

“Yalla shebab!” cheered the collection of 14 or so boys as I and a fellow American student danced around the room. Traditional Arabic and Near Eastern dance is often comprised of people linking pinkies to form a line which snakes around a room according to an established pattern of step, step, hop. The other American and I were falling all over ourselves, but the shouts of encouragement, “yalla shebab…” or “let’s go youth”, from the students and their teachers quenched any moments of potential embarrassment.
The students we were dancing with were Iraqi refugees who have fled to Amman, the capital of Jordan, in wake of the war in Iraq. I have been in Jordan for the last

August 21st, 2007
Why young women can't get enough of Jane

When Jane Austen penned her novels of love and courtship in the early 1800s, she wrote about a world that is utterly foreign to most of us. Unmarried couples were not allowed to call each other by their first names; women were considered hopeless old maids at thirty. What could her novels possibly have to do with the lives of self-actualized women today?
Quite a lot, apparently. In the last twelve years, Austen has undergone a massive renaissance. Five of her six novels have been adapted into feature films, while the BBC’s 1995 “Pride and Prejudice”—which shot Colin Firth to fame as Mr. Darcy—has gained legions of fans. Austen is also irresistible to contemporary novelists; some…

August 14th, 2007
Trying to find normal again

As students from all over the country begin returning to their campuses, moving into their dorms and catching up with old friends, the students at Virginia Tech have a different set of tasks. They too will be returning to their campus, but they will also be dealing with the aftermath of April 16 and struggling to find “normal” again.
For senior Bryan Schamus, a communication major with a minor in music, finding normalcy again was essential after the upheaval caused by the violence and loss of life in the final weeks of the spring semester.
Andy Sowell, an agricultural economics major will be a junior at Virginia Tech. In spite of everything they’ve been through, or maybe because of it, Andy says…

August 3rd, 2007
Memories of my brother and a Quaker girlhood

The Quaker meetinghouse I attended as a child had four rooms. The large, boxy room in the middle was for worship and held rows of padded black folding chairs as well as a small library with saddle-stitched books about peace and the importance of silence in worship. The kitchen was pale and smelled of powdered dates, and the food made there was never good. There was a side room reserved for people who needed a place to stay for a while; the door to this room was glass, and though there was a cloth curtain over it, I could sometimes see the silhouette of a person sitting on the bed. The playroom for us kids was oblong and filled with old school supplies like glass bottles of rubber cement and patterns for paper dolls. On the wall…

August 2nd, 2007
Our search for order in the darkness

A friend of mine just left her husband. She told me that she had been unhappy in the marriage for a long time but couldn’t find a way out. “I had seen a psychologist and a lawyer,” she said. “But I couldn’t act—it was too confusing, too painful. I felt overwhelmed. Then one day last week I was driving down the street and I said, ‘God, please give me a sign. Give me some sort of sign and I’ll leave.’ It was a street where I’d always wanted to live. I was driving and praying, and I looked up and saw the poster that said For Rent…. I knew what to do.”
Though I wanted to be a good, supportive friend, I have to admit that a part of me secretly recoiled at these words.

July 31st, 2007
Does Springfield Get Religion?

In a recent print “interview” with USA Today, Homer Simpson explains his theology this way: “Every time I see my sweet girl Lisa, I believe in God. Every time I see Bart, I believe in the devil.”
Now, those of us who have seen the movie – contributing to a worldwide opening weekend box office of $168 million – know what he meant.
Well, sort of… The Simpsons Movie is not about …religion. Like the TV show, it is about a family and a community in which religion plays a part. But many of the spiritual elements present in the show’s past eighteen seasons are present in the movie, driving the plot and complicating the lives of the Simpsons family and the residents of Springfield.

July 30th, 2007

At the base of the Taos mountains,
a fragmented tree, victim
of a lightning strike. As I pass,
I avert my gaze as if confronted by
something intimate in the paleness
of the exposed wood. A friend’s
son who was struck by lightning
later took his life. I wonder how
much that act hinged on burdens
I knew nothing about—a complex landscape
forged from disappointment and pain—
how much was due to the lightning strike’s
trauma, the exit wound like a stigmata.
Once, I longed for a life of extraordinary
goodness—hoped to radiate faith
like a five-hour sunburn, to heal others
with a touch. Now, I’m satisfied
with wisps of grace: letting cars merge
into thick traffic in front of me,
tipping…

July 27th, 2007
The book that will make me rich and famous.

Yesterday I was stalked by Jane Austen. Every corner I turned at my local bookstore, there she was—her name emblazoned across titles in the New Fiction and New Non-Fiction sections, even over in Cooking, Food & Wine, where I bumped into The Jane Austen Cookbook. Displayed on the new book tables were Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen, edited by Anne Newgarden, and Austen Land, a novel by Shannon Hale. Fresh out in paperback were Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr. Darcy and Patrice Hannon’s Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love….
I asked the young woman at the information desk if the store’s book buyer is obsessed with a certain Regency-era female novelist.

powered by the Paulists