Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
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.

July 19th, 2007
A Response to Reverend Storm

There has been considerable dismay, especially among Protestants, regarding the document issued on July 10th by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Rev. Astrid Joy Storm’s comments are very much in this vein. In one sense they are quite hopeful, reflecting the conviction that the movement towards unity will continue in spite of what she views as a setback represented by the CDF text. I think she is right about the continuation of the growth towards unity, but wrong about the meaning of the document.
Most of the hurt that Protestants have expressed about the document centers on its insistence that Protestant communities are not churches “in the proper sense.” Rev. Storm writes…

July 16th, 2007
An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican's recent statement will have on practical ecumenism

An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican’s recent statement will have on practical ecumenism It seemed fitting that I was scheduled to share a meal with a Roman Catholic friend Tuesday evening, just hours after the Vatican released a statement reaffirming the 2000 document Dominus Iesus,… in which Orthodox churches were deemed “wounded” and Protestant Churches, like the Episcopal Church in which I’m a priest (female, no less), are not really churches and our priests not true priests. As the document states: “Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress in the communities concerned and even among some Catholics, it is nevertheless difficult to see

July 11th, 2007

Our readers sound off on Dr. Christine Whelan’s latest Pure Sex, Pure Love column
Readers responded from around the world with great passion to last week’s column on the notion of whether men are inferior to women. Below is a selection of their responses.
<<Read the original article here.
My father’s a frequent complainer about the way men, particularly fathers, are portrayed in the media—one of his personal bugbears is commercials which depict the dad as clueless about how to do laundry, make food, etc. However, he recently said to me of my new boyfriend “He’s lucky to have you—and I’m sure he gets reminded of that frequently.” Dad, we’ve…

July 9th, 2007
How different faith traditions help get couples ready for the days after the big day

From rings to registries and videographers to wedding planners, getting married is an estimated $161 billion industry in the U.S. But preparing for lifelong commitment often seems to fall by the wayside when couples are presented with the pressing concerns of party planning: Should the candy-coating on the dessert almonds be the same color as the dinner-menu cardstock?
This week, Hollywood takes the focus off of “bridezillas” and puts it on marriage preparation courses. In “License to Wed,” which opened Wednesday, Robin Williams plays the “Reverend Frank,” a clergyman of unspecified denomination who puts his charges through a series of tests-including an exercise…

June 27th, 2007

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had
a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:
“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”
For four decades Bob Abernethy covered world events for NBC news for—including a stint in Moscow between 1989-1994 where he reported on the end of the Cold War. After leaving NBC, he created the show Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly… for PBS. Abernethy developed the program to fill what he saw as a lack of serious discussion surrounding issues of faith in the national media landscape.
For the past decade his show has helped

June 22nd, 2007
New York artists use a church as their gallery

When Michelangelo and Da Vinci were working the Catholic Church embraced contemporary art as a form of prayer. These days the institutional church is more likely to condemn contemporary art than commission it, as evidenced by the uproar over Cosimo Cavallaro’s nude chocolate crucifix during Holy Week this year.
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle in mid-town Manhattan is doing its part to rehabilitate this contentious relationship by welcoming artists into discussion on God that focuses more on mystery than dogma.
Who…
Until the end of June, St. Paul’s is hosting a group show of contemporary painting that asks artists to address the questions “Who, What, Where, When, Why is God.”…

June 20th, 2007
Christopher Hitchens' new book is unhelpful to unbelievers

One of Western civilization’s worst follies involves men in robes—women too—chanting and gesticulating like they’re trying to lure the Great Kong—only what they’re up to is even more bizarre: acting out myths bastardized from the pagans and Zoasterians and the like, all to the glory of, let’s face it, the elite. Power and wealth are what’s being worshipped— which is why all this goes on in glittering showplaces, temples to their financial prowess and power. Oh, there’s constant talk among devotees of reaching out to the young—lest the ancient lore and practices die out—and the poor, since the higher planes are not for the privileged…

June 14th, 2007
God Machine or Tech Temptation?

June 29th marks the feast day dedicated to the founders of the church of Rome: Saints Peter and Paul. The observance is an ancient one, but this year it coincides with a religious festival of a more modern sort. For the believers of this other faith, it’s the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they’ll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they’ve long lusted and defended against all nay-sayers, sight unseen.
I’m talking, of course, about the release of Apple’s iPhone. And to say that the thought of nabbing one makes my brain water would be putting it lightly.
To be sure, I’m a new convert. But as with many others, the living encounter with the Mac…

June 13th, 2007
A recent trip to Turkey reveals some surprises about Islam and politics

Current events in a country bridging Europe and Asia are offering an important object lesson about the Muslim world: it is not monolithic, and there are significant forces for religious pluralism and democracy within it.
The country is Turkey, at one and the same time a candidate for the European Union (EU) and the source of much of the water in the Middle East; larger in population than any EU country, and with the second largest military in NATO after the United States.
From May 7-15 I had the opportunity to travel with an interfaith group of 16 people from the fields of government, education, health care, religion, journalism and the arts to several cities within Turkey on visits to schools, mosques, cultural institutions,…

June 12th, 2007
Surviving your Catholic Wedding

Pop quiz: May a Catholic couple get married on the beach? May the bride boogie down the aisle to a modern tune?
Bemused? Things are changing fast in the wedding business.
From 1857 to 1957 American weddings would have looked fairly similar: Most couples got married with family and a few friends present, followed by a nice lunch afterward; grand weddings were reserved for the wealthy elite. But starting in the 1960s—and then really picking up steam in the 1980s—the wedding industry took on a life of its own. From rings to registries, videographers to wedding planners and welcome baskets to party favors, getting married is a $161 billion industry. Engaged couples, priests and wedding guests are struggling…

June 4th, 2007
The National Catholic Singles Conference

In just a few weeks, more than 500 Catholic singles will head to San Diego, California for a weekend of panel discussions, socializing and prayer about the vocation of singles and the search for a perfect match.
The National Catholic Singles Conference was founded in 2005 by Anastasia Northrop. There have been conferences in Denver, Chicago and now San Diego, and because of its popularity, there are plans for east, west and central U.S. conferences in coming years.
What happens at a single’s conference and why is it so popular? According to one of this year’s conference organizers, Michele Fleming, director of the Office for Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Diego, it’s an opportunity…

May 31st, 2007
Seattle's Interfaith Creation Festival connects spirituality and concern for the earth

Seattle has never been known as the epicenter of faith, religion or spirituality in the U.S., but for four days from May 31 to June 3 faith and spirituality will be at the center of the Emerald City as Seattle-based Earth Ministry will host its first annual Interfaith Creation Festival.
The festival will also mark Earth Ministry’s 15th anniversary since its founding in 1991 by Carla Pryne, an Episcopalian priest and a Presbyterian minister Jim Mulligan and his wife Ruth, who is the chair of the festival’s steering committee.
“It speaks to their commitment and vision to still be involved 15 years later,” says LeeAnne Beres, executive director of Earth Ministry. “There was a need…

May 30th, 2007
A funny thing happened in the middle of making a living

There’s an old Yiddish saying: “If you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”
As far as my own life’s concerned, these days, I’m sure, He’s in stitches.
On Saturday, May the 19th, I completed a five-year odyssey and was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Suffice it to say: this isn’t exactly what I’d planned for my life. It’s not exactly what my wife had in mind when she married me 21 years ago, either. But as John Lennon (British, not Yiddish) put it: life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

The plans I’d made included a successful career in broadcasting, a nice home, a comfortable life, a happy…

May 21st, 2007
What makes a date? What makes it great?

According to our recent BustedHalo survey, respondents said they went on their first date, on average, at age 16. But what if you’re in your college years and beyond and haven’t had a meaningful relationship experience? You’re worried that you don’t know the “rules” or that you’ll make a rookie mistake.
Often it’s the simple things that trip us up in the world of love and dating, especially for young adults who get into the dating game a bit later. Here are some basics – and no matter how old you are, or how many dates you’ve had, it never hurts to remember where things begin:
What Counts As A Date?
This seems like a simple question, but it’s one…

May 18th, 2007
A death in the family

Amid news of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death earlier this week, the coverage was predictable. Conservatives who benefited from the pioneering televangelist’s forays into politics praised his stances and lamented his departure from the stage, while liberals took it upon themselves to assume the same role of unrelenting judge that they found so abhorrent when Falwell, himself, played it.
But beyond the noise of the polarizing political reactions what is often missed is the intensely personal and human dimension to Reverend Falwell’s death; that is what I experienced.
While I normally play the role of the Vatican scribe covering the colossus of all things Catholic, I don’t often…

May 16th, 2007
Reflections from a former fundamentalist

The Rev. Jerry Falwell—founder of the Moral Majority and the leader of the religious right in the ’80s—died Tuesday after he was discovered unconscious in his office. We at BustedHalo… offer our prayers for Falwell’s family, friends, and flock. Our prayers also go out to Falwell himself.
Now that the evangelist has finally met his maker, we pray for his sake that God is an amiable old white guy with a long grey beard, and is not, say, a big purple Teletubby with a triangle above his head and a magic bag dangling from his arm. Tinky Winky as Divine Judge might have a beef with Falwell. Having outed Tink as gay, Falwell denounced the beloved children’s TV character as “damaging to

May 14th, 2007
How one 20-something turned a brief service trip into his life's mission

Each year hundreds of college students visit developing countries to volunteer on humanitarian projects, learn about another culture and foster solidarity with people whose poverty and trauma are shaped by the geopolitical actions of wealthy nations. While the lessons of the service trip continue to inform students’ actions, as time passes their intensity generally fades.
Not so Matthew Nespoli, a Villanova University alumnus and founder of Water for Waslala, a micro-development initiative that brings safe drinking water to isolated communities in the mountainous Waslala region of Nicaragua. Nespoli’s brief trip abroad in the summer of 2002 has determined the course of his life since.…

May 8th, 2007
Why Latinos are increasingly converting to Islam

As a girl in Catholic school, Khadijah Rivera dreamed of becoming a nun despite the fact she feared Jesus. She was frightened by her church’s bloodied statue of Christ nailed to the cross and was plagued with fear when receiving communion. “When I used to put the host in my mouth,” she says, “I never bit it. I let it melt because I was afraid to bite the body and blood of Christ.” Years later, as an adult, she says she has now gotten over these fears and learned to love Jesus more. The reason for her change of heart? Rivera converted to Islam.
According to Rivera, who founded PIEDAD, a Latino Muslim organization based in Tampa, Florida, with over 300 members nationwide, Latino Muslims are…

powered by the Paulists