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December 17th, 2012

“Early on Tolkien had a car, he drove like a manic,” explains Daniele Lucas to a group of 20 people taking her J.R.R. Tolkien Tour in Oxford, England. “Tolkien endangered everyone’s life who was in the car with him, including his own. Soon afterwards, he completely lost his taste for driving anything motorized.”
In Oxford, Tolkien tours are common and tourists make daily pilgrimages to such sacred spots (scroll down for some photos) as the colleges that Tolkien taught at, the pubs where he met with the Inklings (his informal writing group), the sidewalk where he read early excerpts of The Lord of the Rings to children and the house where Tolkien lived when he wrote The Hobbit.… (The first film of a three-part

December 17th, 2012

Three-fourths of the way through Advent, I lived a parable. We were in the middle of finals week, and the only things standing between me and Christmas vacation were 1) a pile of research papers from my composition students, and 2) a corresponding pile of portfolios from my creative writing students — all waiting to be graded. About halfway through each pile, my computer stopped connecting to the internet.
Granted, the prospect of a day without checking my email 47 times is horrifying enough. Add to this the fact that grades have to be plugged in electronically, and you can imagine my consternation.
I lugged my decidedly not-lightweight laptop to a nearby coffee shop and tried using their Wi-Fi. Nope.
I trudged…

December 11th, 2012

Waiting is a fact of life. We wait in lines. We wait at stop lights. We wait for babies to be born. We wait, and wait, and wait. Our response is often one of wanting to “get it over with.” From a child’s annoying “Are we there yet?” to impatient drivers cutting off other drivers to get someplace quicker, we seem to have an aversion to waiting.
The flip side to waiting, however, is expectation, anticipation and hope. This is beautifully captured in the Spanish language. The verb esperar means “wait, expect and… hope.” One of the themes of Advent is waiting. It is usually cast in terms of our expectation for a Savior — the pre-Christian expectation of the Jewish people for

December 10th, 2012

Advent is a precious time in the Christian calendar. Completely avoiding the Christmas onslaught may be impossible, but we can make an effort to maintain some connection to the spiritual foundation of this season. Busted Halo’s 2012 Advent Surprise Calendar is here to help a little with that.

December 10th, 2012

We all know that Advent has become a counter-cultural time for patience and waiting, a virtue becoming less and less known to our fast-paced world. I recently ordered an iPad mini but was finding myself with growing impatience since I had to wait two weeks for its delivery. Such things can be testing for us. The holiday season is especially prone to these feelings and reactions.
Here are five steps for practicing true Advent patience using the example of standing in a long checkout line at a busy store: You notice a woman at the front of the line who has been at the cash register for 10 minutes already causing a bit of commotion. You don’t know precisely the cause of the slowdown.

Pause… — You begin to notice

December 7th, 2012
Is a holiday introduction to your significant other’s family a good or a bad idea?

Question: My boyfriend has invited me to meet his parents this Christmas. We’ve been dating about four months. Is it too soon to meet his family?
Answer:… I’m not sure there is any “right time” to meet your boyfriend’s family; the decision is really up to each couple. It can be a significant step in your relationship, or it can simply be part of how you are able to celebrate the holiday together. Here are some guidelines that can help you decide, along with tips to make introductions go more smoothly.
First, if you are not dating exclusively or if you don’t plan to stay in the relationship much longer, then meeting his family would give the wrong signal. On the other hand, if you see this relationship moving

December 6th, 2012

‘Twas the week before Christmas
and all through our home,
were the decor and dressings
of a quaint yuletide tome.
School-made stockings were hung
to the hymns of a choir,
In the radiant glow
of our fireplace…fire!!!…

Horror ensued as I worried how Santa would ever survive his traditional entrance to our home via chimney. Worse still, how would the robot that he was sure to bring going to fare in the soot and heat? Though I’d been told that Santa worked through my family and friends to bring the presents on Christmas morning, I was always convinced that somehow, somewhere, he really did exist. Ironically, Santa proved me right not at Christmas, but at Easter.
The Easter I became Catholic, members of the parish

November 27th, 2012
Accompanying each other through grief

Young adulthood is often a season full of firsts: first move out of student housing; first time buying a car; first real dining room table; first full-time paycheck; first health insurance apart from parents’.
It is also a season of celebrations, as nearly every other weekend, April to September, is the wedding of a childhood, college or graduate school friend. There are passed-the-Bar-exam parties, medical school coat ceremonies, first promotions, and Saturdays spent helping friends move and celebrate their first home. There is a spattering of baby showers and adoption parties as friends begin to start families of their own.
Amid the excitement and right-of-passage firsts, young adulthood is also…

November 26th, 2012

Although we rarely slow down to consider it, most of the time we live as voyagers moving about solely for the sake of discovering the next temporary provision. Our lives will certainly look a lot like that over the next few weeks as the Christmas shopping frenzy commences. We will scurry about, our fingers freshly stained with Black Friday advertisements, participating in the mad rush for that perfect gift.
I was on my own Yuletide expedition when I happened upon a nativity scene at the local “Stuff Mart” the other day and noticed the bearded travelers sitting before a baby with gifts in hand. The figurines left me meditating about these nomads of the Bible. They’ve been called astronomers, priests, and even…

November 21st, 2012

The following is an excerpt from What’s So Funny about Faith: A Memoir from the Intersection of Holy and Hilarious by Jake Martin, SJ (Loyola Press 2012).…
Since the age of four, when I would sneak downstairs, way past my bedtime, to the family den hoping to catch a glimpse of NBC’s cutting-edge sketch-comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” I had dreamed of going to New York and becoming a comedian. This was followed by years of classes, shows, and auditions; of waiting tables and answering phones to pay the rent; of going to sleep hungry and watching my friends pass me by while I bided my time in Chicago, hoping to catch that one break that would finally bring me to New York, with all its attached fame and glory.

November 20th, 2012

In kindergarten, I vividly remember my teacher dividing our class into two groups at Thanksgiving: the pilgrims and the Native Americans. I was a Native American, and in the days leading up to our Thanksgiving feast, I meticulously colored my headband (which had feathers attached) and a paper grocery bag that would be the papoose I carried on my back.
Our school Thanksgiving feast was served on mint green Styrofoam trays that squeaked when they moved. We dined on sodium-saturated green beans, dry macaroni and cheese, rubbery sliced turkey, a buttery yeast roll dripping with honey, and stuffing topped with cranberry sauce and breadcrumbs.
My classmates and I sat at a long table facing one another and ate together.…

November 15th, 2012

Recently, I stumbled across something called The Happiness Project. I discovered it as I poked around Heather King’s blog “Shirt of Flame” one day. Heather is a Catholic convert (like me), former “barfly” (unlike me), and a contemplative who is passionate about her faith and writing. Gretchen, the woman who wrote The Happiness Project…, discovered Heather’s blog, was fascinated, and shot some questions to her about happiness.
I began to feel uncomfortable as I read further, muttering things like, “White people’s problems,” and other critical labels. Suddenly I remembered one of Woody Allen’s early films when he is making love to some woman

November 14th, 2012

A few weeks ago I had the chance to walk through two cemeteries within a week’s time. As I strolled through the beautifully landscaped grounds and in between the headstones I looked at the names and family relationships that were etched onto the stones: mother, father, husband, wife, baby. I began to wonder what kind of lives these people led, what they did for work, how their families were. Some dates reached back into the early 1800s. “Two hundred years from now, will I be remembered?” I wondered. To me they were fading shadows of lives long ago, but back then they were important to someone. Someone grieved their deaths.
We all know that losing someone is hard. Loss comes with feelings we may never have experienced…

November 13th, 2012

Question: So, why is the Catholic Church so hung up on (or down on) sex? If two people love each other and are in a committed, monogamous relationship, what’s the big deal?
Answer:… It certainly can seem like the Church is “hung up on” sex. That’s only if you only listen to the sound bites. “Don’t do this. Can’t do that.” But the truth about the Church’s teaching on sex is intimately tied to the truth about love, the foundation of the Gospel message. The Catholic Church believes sex is designed by our Creator to strengthen our marriages and bring new life into the world. So what’s with the bad rap?
In general, people don’t like rules that feel like restrictions. But God’s “rules” are simply

November 12th, 2012

The Ten Commandments have been drilled into me since I was young. Whether it was Vacation Bible School, religious education or other church-related activity, these 10 “ways of being a good follower of God” have always been part of my life. Unfortunately the fifth commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” seems to have been forgotten.
“NOLA For Life”
I live in New Orleans where violence has been out of control for some time. And the lack of respect for life can be seen on all levels of society — all the way from violent criminals to elected officials who take an oath to serve the community. In my own personal life, I have lost too many family, friends, church members and even youth to violence. I…

November 8th, 2012

The liturgical season can often seem out of sync with the rest of popular society. With insane hurricanes and contentious political theater unraveling across the world, it is hard to believe time right now is merely just “ordinary.” Current events aside, pretty much any time after Columbus Day, as the hours grow darker and the air has a certain nip in it — becomes “extended Advent.”  This preparation for the “the coming” or “arrival” of Christmas is heralded by radio stations, marketers and commerce across the country with pomp, fanfare, coupons, propaganda, jingles, jangles, and seasonally appropriate beer and ice cream — Christmas is near, and we just have to leap the hurdles…

November 7th, 2012
November -- A month for remembering those who have gone before us

Since becoming Catholic, I must confess that I look forward to November — the month when we commemorate the dead. It’s a time to remember those who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we now stand. It is a month when we give thanks for the legacies of our departed wisdom figures and reconcile ourselves to our fallen adversaries. We lament perished innocents, lost victims, and slain heroes who remind us of life’s challenges that we still must face.

November 6th, 2012

Thanks to everyone for your entries into #Haloween2012 — the Busted Halo-ween Costume Contest!
Here are the contest winners:
You can see more entries on our Twitter page: www.twitter.com/bustedhalo.…

November 5th, 2012

Voting is important. And when elections roll around, there’s always a lot for voters to consider. Different issues are important to different people. However, the Church has never advocated its members to vote for a particular candidate or vote solely on one issue. In fact, Catholics are never single-issue voters. As Catholics our faith helps us sort out the many complicated issues facing us during election years and leads us to an informed decision about which candidate to vote for.
This Busted Halo original video looks at the U.S. Bishops’ guide to Faithful Citizenship – teachings on issues that are important to the Church. As a people of faith, it’s important that we remember…

November 5th, 2012

It is an unseasonably warm morning in Northeastern Ohio. The pickles Kim (shorthand for the three little people who live at our house) are running wild in a choppy sea of motley leaves. (Raking is on the list. The list is long.) I ask our 4-year-old — the one loping around with a Tyrannosaurus Rex strapped across his torso in a self-styled Baby Bjorn whilst brandishing a stick/pirate sword — what I should write about voting. Without stopping, without so much as lowering his wooden scabbard he yells, “Tell everyone about how you love God.”

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