Busted Halo
November 28th, 2010

Do you value an open and lively discussion about faith?

Do you care about a Catholic media outreach that welcomes those seeking answers?

Do you think Busted Halo is a “Wonderful Website?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I hope you’ll support us this holiday season in our annual Double Your Dollars Holiday Fund Drive.

All year long, Busted Halo® is your daily source for inspiration, thought-provoking articles, blogs, columns, podcasts, videos, answers to your spiritual questions, and challenges to grow your faith. And every day, this accessible and relevant discussion about the intersection between faith and everyday life is available to you — all for free.

As part of our community, you know what a unique and valuable resource Busted Halo® is. However, even though everything we offer here is free to you, it is not costless to produce. So today we are asking you, as a member of our Busted Halo® family, to show how much you value Busted Halo®.

Busted Halo® depends on the support of readers and listeners like you for a large portion of our annual operating budget. This holiday season (between today and January 9th) you have the opportunity to make TWICE THE IMPACT during our Double Your Dollars Holiday Fund Drive. This year’s matching-gift sponsors are calling you to action. They’ve pledged up to $15,000 to match every dollar you donate this year during the Holiday Fund Drive because they realize how crucial it is that we reach our goal.

Now we need you to help us reach that $15,000 goal! If you value the conversation Busted Halo provides, please take this opportunity to share our ministry, and support a welcoming Catholic voice in the media.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Busted Halo®!

Father Dave Dwyer, CSP

November 27th, 2010

Advent is a precious time in the Christian calendar. The four weeks leading up to December 25 are meant to be a period of expectant waiting, as we prepare ourselves for the miraculous arrival of our Savior, in the form of a vulnerable infant born to humble parents.

The reality for most of us, though, is that these are anxious weeks of shopping and holiday planning leading up to a hectic Christmas Day. In the bustle of the holiday season, it’s hard to remember what we’re waiting for.

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 2010 Advent Surprise Calendar is here to help a little with that.

In traditional Advent calendars, children open different windows throughout the season to reveal special surprises. Busted Halo’s Advent calendar brings its sense of surprise by showing you the whole calendar, but not letting you open each day and find out what’s behind the picture until that day comes along.

November 24th, 2010


Recently, on a pilgrimage in Italy, I heard a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal relay in a homily one of the many stories of St. Francis of Assisi that raised medieval eyebrows. A gang of robbers, known to not only rob but also kill their victims, was terrorizing the local towns. Francis gathered his friars and encouraged them to visit the remote homes of those alleged to be responsible for the attacks. He instructed his friars bring bread on their first visit. On the second trip, they were to bring bread and wine. The third visit, they were to bring bread and wine, and then ask of their hosts a special favor: if they were going to rob people, at least spare them their lives and commit no physical violence against them.

The intention of Francis was not to condone robbery. Rather, it was one of many examples of his understanding and acceptance of human nature. A “cease and desist” order would likely be ignored. Asking the robbers to take a first step, curtailing death and injury, was more likely to be considered. It was, at its core, an opportunity to embark on a different journey.

I was reminded of that message this week when news broke of Pope Benedict’s tacit endorsement of the use of condoms in limited, special circumstances. The example he cited would apply to the rarest of instances – use by a male prostitute having sex with another man – and, even then, would be considered appropriate only as a first step to changing behavior. Even this narrow exception of condom use, however, is an acknowledgment by the pope that the journey to holiness is usually a long-term process. Overnight changes of heart, instant conversions and immediate saintliness are virtually nonexistent in the reality of daily life. Alternatively, incremental steps, which may or may not withstand moral scrutiny on their own, can reflect long-term moral growth in the context of a greater path to holiness.


November 24th, 2010

As I sit before the illustration accompanying the story of creation in The Saint John’s Bible, I see representations that are obvious — the seven days; Adam, Eve and the serpent; land and sea. And I see many that are less so — little gold boxes, a bird. My mind plays at filling in the gaps. The person next to me is doing the same. After a few minutes, we turn to each other and share what we saw. Within moments, this sharing has turned into an excited discussion of the creation stories and the symbolism involved, referencing back to the illustration again and again. In the final phase of the exercise, our facilitator calls on people and we hear all the things they saw and how they interpreted them — some quite surprising. Now, this is fun bible study.

And that’s page one. The immensity of The Saint John’s Bible project is hard to convey. It’s been over half a millennium since a completely handmade illuminated bible has been produced, and this project has been 12 years in the making, combining the production, theological guidance and financial commitment of Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota with the artistic direction of the Queen’s scribe, Donald Jackson — whose life dream this has been since 1970 — and his calligraphy team in Monmouth, Wales.

November 23rd, 2010

After outlining the original dilemma and then adding a later twist to it, now we’re ready to hear an analysis of the dilemma from our in-house expert in moral theology and ethics.

Bravo to the online responders! An overwhelming majority of you in both phases said that Kara is not a physician and therefore is neither competent to diagnose her friend’s mental state nor to prescribe the right course of treatment, whether medication, therapy, or some combination of the two.

While there were many insightful and helpful comments, four of them seem to sum it up very well:

“Offer encouragement to see a doctor and offer to give him some names. Further, since people with depression find it hard to take the first step, ask Robert if she can help him make the contact with a doctor or offer to go along for the first visit.”

November 10th, 2010

The mobile version of bustedhalo.com has arrived! Get a quick overview of our most recent content — the last few posts; the latest columns, blog posts and comments; what’s new in Googling God; and today’s Daily Jolt. Now, when you go to bustedhalo.com it should automatically detect whether you’re on a regular computer or a mobile device, and send you to the right version. Below are instructions to bookmark the site — and if you are on an iPhone you can create an app-(button)-for-that which looks like any other app button and takes you straight to Busted Halo.

Looking at Busted Halo articles on a phone always kinda worked. The big change is our home page. The regular Busted Halo home page is so rich with multimedia content that it doesn’t really work on mobile devices. Now, you’ll be taken to our lightweight mobile home page. Most video and audio clips will work (though their behavior will vary depending on the device). Articles and posts on a mobile device are cleaner and easier to read, and you can see and add comments.

November 9th, 2010

After struggling to put herself through college, Kara landed a good job as a drug representative for a large pharmaceutical company. The job required her to travel to doctor’s offices throughout her “territory” in the northeastern part of Washington State and remind physicians about the various medications her company makes and how they benefit patients. Because most of the doctors she deals with are very busy, her visits usually entail a quick hello to the doctor to drop off a few samples of the prescription medications she represents.

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November 8th, 2010


There’s a widening gap between the haves and have-nots in America — and this time the fault line is marriage. Educated young adults are marrying and thriving in their unions, while those with less education are more likely to cohabit, less likely to ever marry, and more likely to divorce if they do wed. The latest data to support this argument comes from the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends project analysis of sixty years of Census data, which finds that college-educated young adults are slightly more likely to marry by age 30 and significantly more likely to marry by age 40.

In my last column, I wrote about how the good news for educated Americans abounds: While men and women of all educational backgrounds are delaying marriage, among 35-to-39 -year-olds, four-fifths of college-educated adults have married versus only three-quarters of less educated adults. Perhaps most importantly, college graduates are more likely to be financially stable within those unions and less likely to divorce.

But education is often used as a proxy for social class, so a more concerning take on these findings is that American marriage patterns are diverging by socio economics. Marriage has clear economic benefits, as the Pew study notes: In 2008 the typical married adult had an adjusted household income of $76,652 versus $54,470 for the typical unmarried adult. This gap has been growing for decades. In the 1940s the key economic difference between households was how much the husband earned. Today, it’s whether a couple is married, and whether the wife works for pay.

Without job prospects, adequate household income and the commitment of marriage, it’s increasingly difficult for couples to gather the resources — both emotional and financial — to keep a rocky relationship together. And this is a cycle that seems self-perpetuating: With increasing numbers of less educated Americans cohabiting instead of marrying, more children are born into these fragile unions, at risk of being raised in poverty and with fewer educational resources of their own.

The Pew report notes

November 5th, 2010

Sitting on a packed Greyhound bus on Friday night, somewhere between Port Authority and Union Station, I panicked. I couldn’t breathe; my cell phone was about to die. I was even thankful that the guy next to me was asleep and drooling; that was better than him witnessing the unmedicated panic attack of the person sitting beside him — a bipartisan, underemployed thirtysomething who had never been to a rally before. I’m claustrophobic and anxious about crowds, germs and public transportation. I’m as leery of the concept of Port-O-Potties as I am about attending events that require them. Why attend the “Rally to Restore Sanity” if it meant forsaking my own?

The thing is, I had waited such a long time for Saturday.

Those of us with panic disorder generally like to know what we’re in for beforehand. On the way to D.C., no one knew. Was this undefined and/or unprecedented rally going to be political or sarcastic?

Every possible scenario came to mind. I envisioned being screamed at by officers on horseback or trampled upon by angry hipsters wearing ironic Halloween costumes (the guy stapling Lipton Tea bags to his pea coat comes to mind). I imagined holistic hippies selling vegan muffins and self-published copies of Eat, Pray, Shop. I pictured people screaming at each other, being handcuffed and thrown against police cars, and a media circus capturing it all on camera. Cops meets Saturday Night Live meets C-SPAN.

Guess what? None of these fears were realized.

November 5th, 2010

Picking one winner in our Freshman Survival Guide 16 Second Survival video contest was so difficult that staffers and interns almost came to blows at Busted Halo HQ. Thank you to everyone who us sent a video with their best advice for incoming college freshman in 16 seconds or less. There were a lot of great nuggets offered by students and recent graduates from all over the United States and Canada. In the end we decided that the contest was so close that we would need to award prizes to three runners-up in addition to the grand prize. Congratulations to Josef from Concordia University, our grand prize winner, who will receive a $100 gift certificate to Bed Bath and Beyond. Our runners-up (in no particular order) are Ian from Monmouth Community College, Aarti from University of Buffalo and Mark from Seton Hall University, each of whom will receive a $25 gift certificate.

Many thanks again to everyone who sent in a video. Stay tuned for more videos and contests as the Freshman Survival Guide publication date — April 7, 2011 — gets closer.

November 3rd, 2010


A group of artists are taking public discourse back to the old days, when all you needed to get your thoughts heard was a pen and paper, not a Twitter account and an online following.

It’s a throwback to a time when computers were scarce and thoughts on paper were plentiful.

One day, as I was out reporting, I saw just that: a simple white poster with black text that left enough room for handwritten commentary. In the sensory overload that characterizes New York City, the clean white lines and hard edges of the poster caught my eye.

The poster was divided in half by a thin black line. To the left of the line it read: “The Ground Zero Mosque should not be built because:” and to the right of the line: “The Islamic Community Center should be built because:”

You know the drill — fill in the blank.

Immediately, I found myself wondering: Why does one side read “Ground Zero Mosque” and the other “Islamic Community Center”? But mostly, I just wanted to track down the masterminds behind this project.

I enlisted the help of a few friends with a knack for taking pictures around the city. Within a few hours, I received a picture message on my phone, with a blank poster identical to the one I saw earlier in the day, followed by a message that read, “Concerned New Yorkers.”

Influenced by the recent debate over the proposed lower Manhattan Islamic community center, a group of local artists decided to take this discourse to the street. They called themselves “Concerned New Yorkers,” and they wanted to provide a forum for those wishing to voice their opinions on local issues.

Kenny Komer, Boris Rasin and Adam Wissing created the group last summer to elect Monty Burns for Mayor of New York City as a social commentary on politicians and their empty promises. Thanks to their viral campaign, a mix of political and artistic pranksterism, the Simpsons character had the greatest number of write-in votes during last year’s

October 26th, 2010

It may sound blasphemous, or at least juvenile, but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Not that it has anything on Christmas, but it’s definitely in my top three. When I started my life in the ”real world,” especially when I began working at Busted Halo®, I was shocked by some of my coworkers’ low opinions of this day of mirth and mischief.

I grew up in a family of theater people and always loved the fun of getting dressed up and playing crazy characters. So a day when such things were actually encouraged (and rewarded with candy) was always a boon for me (as opposed to the other 364 days when I was just a little strange). But, after spending my first Halloween in NYC I could begin to understand some of the resentment harbored by the Halloween haters against the Halloween hoes.

Halloween in New York is totally other. I have never seen a more drunken debaucherous crowd of naughty nurses, sexy kittens, and dirty s in my life. It was disgusting, a little disturbing, but more than anything else, disheartening. What happened to the creative, good wholesome fun I had loved so much as a child?

October 25th, 2010

GoodbyeMCG.INSIDEWhen I took over as editor-in-chief of Busted Halo in May 2004 we were still living in a web 1.0 world. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist and updating this site involved working with a content management system that—compared to what we use today—might as well have been designed by Fred Flintstone. So much has changed so quickly in the world of the web and social media that it’s almost as if we now exist in a different universe.

Social media isn’t the only thing that has changed in that time. The conversation about the intersection of faith and everyday life that we’ve hosted at BustedHalo.com has grown exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of seekers have come here in an effort to make sense of their own spiritual journeys. In the past year alone, we’ve experienced a 40% increase in site traffic over the previous year and a 90% increase over the past two-years. We’ve covered controversial topics ranging from the reality of immigration with Busted Borders and homosexuality and the Church to everyday issues in Moral Dilemmas and the diverse viewpoints of our La Lupe and Girls Meet God bloggers. Our content has been picked up or featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, USA Today, NPR and the Houston Chronicle and we’ve won top honors from both the Catholic Press Association and the Associated Church Press.

Busted Halo has also taken major steps toward moving past the online world and into the realm of taking action. Our spiritual seeker adventure to the Camino as well as our service trip to Peru offered opportunities to put faith into action and our soon-to-be-released Young Adult Ministry in a Box (due early 2011) promises to be a great resource for parishes and dioceses across the US and Canada who want to reach out to people in their 20s and 30s.

Looking Forward
After six very busy and productive years, I’ve decided to move on and look for …

October 19th, 2010

After outlining the original dilemma and then adding a later twist to it, now we’re ready to hear an analysis of the dilemma from our in-house “expert” in moral theology and ethics:

In the initial survey, as well as in the (post-discovery-of-the-wrinkle-factor) second one, I think I would opt for the final response: “None of these sound right to me.” My primary focus here is the well-being of my best friend Beth. Upon hearing the wedding news, two questions would concern me first: whether she is reading Thomas accurately, and whether he should become her spouse. Whether to be at her wedding ceremony — as maid of honor, bridesmaid, or simply in attendance — is secondary, I think, and largely incidental.

October 17th, 2010


Recently, I sat next to a woman on the long bus rise to the country who spent an hour on the phone tracking down the owner of the hair salon she’d been at earlier that day. (We’ll put aside for this discussion that you are asked not to use your cell phone on the bus unless it’s an emergency, out of consideration to your fellow passengers.) Once she got the owner, she launched into a detailed complaint about the service she’d received from a stylist, firmly suggesting that the stylist needed to change her approach to customer relations and that the owner needed to appreciate the importance of good customer service in retaining clients. But instead of the thirty-odd words I just used, she lectured the owner for at least 10 minutes about these issues and the risk this particular stylist presented to his livelihood. In other words, she was trying to exact revenge, to get the stylist fired, or at least scared of losing her job.

She may have convinced herself through some perverse logic that she was trying to be helpful. But the simple truth is, she’d had a worse experience than she had hoped for and someone was going to pay! (Interestingly, she never said the quality of work was bad. She complained only about what she perceived as rudeness. As best I could piece together, the stylist wasn’t deferential enough to her backseat driving of her haircut.)

October 14th, 2010


In more than a dozen highly influential books, evangelical pastor Brian McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelical Christianity, stressing issues of social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. But McLaren’s politics are best understood as an outgrowth of his religious thinking. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, published in early 2010, sets out to reread the Bible from a 21st century perspective, deconstructing its Greco-Roman narrative, emphasizing the Jewish context of early Christian belief, and proposing a more open-ended view of Christianity’s sacred text as “an inspired library” rather than a “constitution.”

Novelist Clyde Edgerton and Rev. Eric Porterfield, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, went to speak with McLaren at his home in Maryland. In this fourth and last excerpt from their conversation, Edgerton and Rev. Porterfield talk with McLaren about some of the problems Christianity faces in dealing with sex, sexual politics and contemporary sexuality. The entire interview can be found here.

Part 4: Sex and Sexuality

Clyde: Sexuality. Our interview is for 20- and 30-year-olds, and I think your chapter on sexuality is profound. It begins with, What do we do? — or a statement that we’ve got to do something — and so that’s a topic that I think of course is interesting to everyone, but to 20- and 30-year-olds especially — those who are interested in how to think about it and talk about it.

Brian: Well let me say a couple things about that. I was just in Africa and I had such a — it just brought this to the surface. I was talking to a guy from eastern Congo, which, as you know, is one of the hardest places in the world… something I think 4 million people have died there in the last 15 to 20 years. It’s this terrible holocaust that’s relating to every one of our cell phones because of these mined substances in all of

October 12th, 2010


While it’s probably not very Christian to say “I told you so” and do a little victory jig, I kinda can’t resist: New research came out this week that proves my demographic predictions about education and marriage from 2006 correct. In addition to some good-news data for college-educated young adults, there’s also a lesson to learn — one that you haven’t seen in the newspaper articles of the last few days. Here’s the story:

For years, newspapers and magazines have run stories about the so-called plight of the educated woman. The conventional wisdom was that women with a college or graduate degree were overqualified for love and unattractive to men. Social critics worried about this “success penalty” and predicted a crisis of smart but unhappy spinsters.

Fast forward to 2010 and think again: College-educated women under the age of 40 are just as likely to marry as their less-educated sisters, according to Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends project analysis of sixty years of Census data released this week; and researchers are waiting for the “crossover” in the next few years where the marriage rates of these female college grads will surpass those of women with less education.

New research came out this week that proves my demographic predictions about education and marriage from 2006 correct. In 2010, college-educated women under the age of 40 are just as likely to marry as their less-educated sisters.

I predicted this demographic change in 2006 in Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women (and in several articles here on BustedHalo.com), arguing that the success penalty was a thing of the past for young women. Over 90 percent of men 25 to 40 say they are seeking — or already married to — a woman as or more intelligent, according to a nationally representative survey commissioned for my research. Forget what your grandmother told you: Smart is sexy.

Indeed, good news for educated Americans abounds in this week’s Pew report. Men and women of all educational backgrounds are delaying marriage, but college-educated young adults are …

October 8th, 2010

As the Artist-In-Residence for the Paulist Fathers in New York, Fr. Frank Sabatté seeks to foster conversations among artists to explore the connections between creativity and spirituality. The outgrowth of that mission has been “Openings,” an artists’ collective in New York that sponsors weekly discussions among artists as well as numerous small group shows and one large annual exhibit of contemporary art at St. Paul the Apostle Church.

This year’s annual exhibit, entitled “Naked Measures,” expanded to include 20 artists — the largest group yet — whose work is hung throughout the church next to more traditional sacred art. In the video here, Fr. Sabatté, the show’s curators, and several of the artists involved discuss the intersection of art and spirituality.

Participating artists include:
Bill Abdale, Robert Aitchison, Tom Bovo, Yoon Cho, Luigi Cicala, Araceli Cruz, Debra Friedkin, Lauren Gohara, Baris Gokturk, Alexandra Gomez, Danielle Goldsmith, Keena Gonzalez, Morgan Hughes, Iliyan Ivanov, Joey Kilrain, Michelle Manley, Lori Merhige, Laura Resheske, Anthony Santella, Mareshah Yisrael.
Where and When:
St. Paul the Apostle Church
Columbus Avenue btwn 59th and 60th Streets
September 17th – October 29th, 2010
Mon-Fri. 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sat. 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Sun. 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 7th, 2010


In more than a dozen highly influential books, evangelical pastor Brian McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelical Christianity, stressing issues of social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. But McLaren’s politics are best understood as an outgrowth of his religious thinking. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, published in early 2010, sets out to reread the Bible from a 21st century perspective, deconstructing its Greco-Roman narrative, emphasizing the Jewish context of early Christian belief, and proposing a more open-ended view of Christianity’s sacred text as “an inspired library” rather than a “constitution.”

Novelist Clyde Edgerton and Rev. Eric Porterfield, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, went to speak with McLaren at his home in Maryland. In this, the third in a series of excerpts from their conversation, they talk with him about the difficulty of talking about Jesus; about Jesus’ Jewish roots; and about the difficulty of reading the Bible in terms of its historical and linguistic context. The entire interview can be found here.

Clyde: When we’re talking to people of other religions — us as Christians — we can’t afford to think about how they should talk to us, we don’t have time to do that, but when we think about how we should talk to them, it seems that there are things that I could say to a Jewish person, before I start talking about Jesus, that would enable us to make a contact that we’re not going to make if I come in with Jesus talk.

Brian: Especially with you come in with the assumption that you know Jesus and you’ve got Jesus figured out. That is problematic. This relates to a couple of your later questions, it seems to me, that are important. You know, one way to describe what I’m trying to do in this book is I’m trying to help Christians accept Jesus as a Jew and not as a Christian.

So when I talk about reading

October 5th, 2010

As Beth and Thomas’ relationship became serious, Michelle began to be troubled by some of the things Beth would tell her.

Few of us are ever faced with making the sorts of life or death decisions we routinely hear about in the news. And yet there are decisions we face every day that — whether we realize it or not — have very real moral implications.

Part trivia game and part reality show, Busted Halo’s Moral Dilemmas feature is intended not only to raise some moral issues for our readers but also to ask you to participate in resolving them. After reading the story below about Beth, Michelle and Thomas please tell us through a one-question quiz, linked to at the bottom of the page, what you think is the “right thing to do.”

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