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October 7th, 2010
Third in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

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…

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.”

October 1st, 2010
A four-legged love story

“God is beauty.”
— St. Francis of Assisi

Here’s what I expected to be able to rightfully call my own by the age of 35:
(1) an 18th-century farmhouse in the country and a corner brownstone apartment in either the Upper West Side or the East Village in New York City; (2) no less than five published books, at least one of which would be a New York Times best seller (if for no other reason than that I could say no to being in Oprah’s Book Club…); (3) an ideal husband who liked cooking and traveling and could also fix computers; (4) yearly trips to Europe for wine, a tour of the Nutella factory that included free samples, and types of cheese that can’t even be found at Zabar’s.
On the morning

September 29th, 2010
Second in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

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 second in a series of excerpts from their conversation, they talk with him about his belief that our concept of God continues to evolve over time.

September 26th, 2010
A simple prayer with a powerful message

“God, grant me the serenity…” You’ve probably heard the Serenity Prayer, whether while attending a 12-Step meeting as a member or guest, or from watching a movie or TV show with a representation of one. Recited by Christians, non-Christians and “spiritual-but-not-religious” seekers alike, the Serenity Prayer is part of our culture. This is due in large part to its adoption by Alcoholics Anonymous, from there spilling over into many recovery and self-improvement activities. Its genius is its brevity — how it says so much that is important in so few words.
But it can also become meaningless through repetition, so I want to devote a column to sharing this wonderful…

September 24th, 2010
Chickens, kaparot and Gaga

Amongst the harder Jewish traditions to explain to Jews and non-Jews alike is kaparot. This symbolic “atonement” rite, conducted in preparation for Yom Kippur, involves waving a live chicken over one’s head three times while reciting the appropriate text.


The chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic procedure, and its equivalent monetary value is given to the poor — or, as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause.
Before I hear cries of “fowl play,” bear in mind that during this ritual, the chicken is treated as humanely as possible. After all, Jewish law forbids causing unnecessary pain to any of God’s creations. 

In fact,…

September 23rd, 2010
First in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren, Protestant pastor, author and theological gadfly is one of the most influential figures associated with the Emerging Church movement, a loosely defined network made up in large part of younger evangelical Christians seeking to reinterpret traditional beliefs and practices for the 21st century. Movement participants, stressing their intellectual and spiritual diversity, think of themselves as engaged in an open-ended “dialogue” or “conversation,” much of which takes place on the internet at sites such as emergentvillage.com, where McLaren’s podcasts help set the tone.

In more than a dozen highly influential books, McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelicism, stressing social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. McLaren told an interviewer in 2006, “When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the Gospels.” He has worked closely with the evangelical anti-poverty activist Jim Wallis, whose Busted Halo interview can be read here.

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 the book’s 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 Reverend Eric Porterfield, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, went to speak with McLaren at his home in Maryland. This is the first of a series of excerpts from their conversation; it focuses on McLaren’s idea of “prophetic confrontation” and the difficulty of promoting social change. The entire interview can be found here.

September 22nd, 2010
Speaking out for the moderate Muslim majority in America

Take a good look at my picture on the right: if you saw me walking around in New York City I look just like any other girl wearing an H&M shirt, Blackberry in one hand and Starbucks coffee in the other, right?
Would you guess that I’m a Muslim — born and raised? Maybe not. But I am. And as of late, I’ve had to defend my religion more times than I can count.
This is the typical dialogue I encounter when people find out I’m Muslim:
Person: “You’re a Moz-lem?”
Me: “Yes! I am.” (I smile hard, to seem friendly and maybe overcompensate for any stereotypes said person has about “Moz-lems” — it doesn’t usually work.)
Person: “But,…

September 20th, 2010

Now we’d like to complicate the story just a bit more by telling you what happened next…

 

THE WRINKLE

Jason takes a deep breath and tells the man that he’d be willing to buy him some hot food and call to make sure he gets taken to a shelter that night.

The homeless man says that the shelters are more dangerous than the streets and that he doesn’t want to lie to him: what he needs is some money so he can buy a cheap bottle of whiskey that will help keep him warm during the cold winter night.

Time for you to decide again. What’s the right thing for Jason to do now?

September 20th, 2010
An academic researcher asks you to share your opinions on religion, sex and online communication

Is it always wrong for unmarried people to have sex? Do you think sex toys are acceptable for use within marriage? Is it ever OK to use contraception?
Do I have your attention now?
For more than five years the Pure Sex, Pure Love column has asked Busted Halo readers for opinions about the intersection between faith and decisions about love and sex. When I met Kelsy Burke, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh who is writing her doctoral dissertation on Christians, the internet and discussions of sex, I was thrilled that someone in the academy was taking these conversations of faith and sexuality as seriously as I do. I immediately began thinking about how she and I could team up to share her research with…

September 15th, 2010
The Grand Prize Winner is...

The grand prize voting week for Busted Halo’s first “Don’t Forget Your Halo” summer photo contest was truly an adventure. The competition was far fiercer than any of us at BH HQ ever could’ve dreamed! Click here to find out the category winners and see all the images!

September 14th, 2010

Few of us are ever faced with making the sort of life-or-death decisions we routinely hear about in the news. Fortunately, most of us are spared from navigating the complex ethical terrain that headline-making cases sometime raise. And yet there are decisions we face everyday that — whether we realize it or not — have very real moral implications.
In Busted Halo’s Moral Dilemmas feature, we hope not only to raise some of these issues for our readers, but also to engage you in helping to resolve them. After going through the story of Jason Pascal that follows, 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.”
Already…

September 13th, 2010
God and Gospel meet African tradition in the South Carolina Lowcountry

“You sure you want to drive out there?” an 82-year-old farmer warns when I stop to ask for directions on a dusty, rutted road in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. “Ahead are the Gullah islands,” he says, shaking his head. “They’re a peculiar people with mighty mysterious ways.”
As I voyage over a gauntlet of bridges and down winding, sun-dappled back roads, past lazy pastures and homespun ma-and-pa stores, decades peel back as St. Helena Island, the center for Gullah culture, emerges through a gauze of saltwater marshes.
The descendants of African slaves, the Gullah today live mostly on the remote barrier islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Neglected during…

September 10th, 2010
"casas del migrante"

In this video, Giselle interviews Brother William Becerra, of Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, a shelter for deported immigrants.  Br. William shares his thoughts and experiences about the immigration issue from the other side of the border.
In video one, Giselle discusses the incident that forced her to look at the immigration issue.
In video two, Giselle prepares for her departure to Mexico where she will reunite with her husband and continue to video blog about their life together and strive to break down stereotypes about illegal immigrants and their families.
In video three, Giselle reunites with her husband, Roberto, and interviews him about growing up in Mexico and how and why he came to live in the United…

September 7th, 2010
Get to know the Word of God

The other day I was reading in Acts 8 about Philip the Evangelist, my namesake, along with some study bible commentary on his history. Even though I was named after him, I have never read these passages before. I finally did because recently I began using a plan to read through the entire Bible in a year. 
I’ve led Bible studies, attended college-level classes on scripture, and heard hundreds of sermons about Bible passages. But until now I’ve never read it all — only the “popular bits.” Of course, I’d heard a sermon or two about Philip’s meeting a eunuch on the road to Gaza and baptizing him, but until now I’d never read about the rest of his travels or learned about…

August 30th, 2010
Are we texting our way out of potential relationships?

The phone call is dead, say tech-savvy social commentators. With the increasing popularity of text messaging, who needs to actually talk… to someone anymore?
While text messaging may be an immediate and direct form of communication, good for flirty messages and quick hellos, I’m wondering if those instant, impersonal communiqués are hurting our dating lives and hindering our relationship formation.
Let’s be clear: I send and receive text messages. In fact, just as I typed that last sentence, a text pinged in from my husband to let me know that he’d be home in 20 minutes. That’s fine. I’m not anti-text, but I think it’s time to think critically about the pros and cons of

August 28th, 2010
The co-creator of Glee on being Catholic

The 62nd Annual Emmy Awards are being held this Sunday, August 29th. Glee has been nominated for a total of 19 Emmy awards. Ian Brennan, co-creator of Glee, has been personally nominated for 2 awards as producer and writer. The following is Ian Brennan’s acceptance speech at the 17th Annual Catholics in Media Awards at which the Fox Television show was honored.

A few weeks ago, when we learned Glee… would receive this award, the other creators of the show and I sort of looked at each other and said, “Wait, really?” Our first thoughts were that, a) Catholics in Media had not seen our show, or that b) my dad, himself a former Paulist, had bribed them. Then at a certain point we all just sort of shrugged and thought, “we’ll

August 26th, 2010
Interfaith activist Eboo Patel on the Ground Zero Islamic Center controversy

A few months following the September 11 attacks in New York City, Eboo Patel—like countless other Americans—visited ground zero and prayed in memory of those who were murdered. Nearly a decade later Patel—a Muslim-American who is the founder of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) —now sees that prayerful moment through a different lens. “It’s a little bit shocking” he says “for me to think that my prayers, because they happen to be in Arabic, would have been unwelcome by some people.” His reconsideration of that memory was catalyzed by the current controversy surrounding the proposed construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near ground zero.

Patel’s interest in interfaith relations has its roots in his experience working and living at several Catholic Worker houses during his college years. He went on to obtain a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. Since then he founded IFYC, a Chicago-based institution dedicated to building the global interfaith youth movement. Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Patel is also a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships as well as the author of the award-winning book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation and a Washington Post blog “The Faith Divide.”

August 24th, 2010
Mother Teresa at 100

As the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on August 26, 2010 approaches, David Van Biema — former chief religion writer at TIME and the author and editor of TIME Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint — sat down to discuss the life and legacy one of the most iconic human beings of the 20th Century.

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August 22nd, 2010
Phil Fox Rose responds to readers’ questions and comments sparked by his column about gossip

My last column, about gossip, seems to have struck a nerve and inspired a lot of discussion. Since I assume that for every reader who leaves a comment or writes an email, another bunch have that same issue but don’t say anything, I decided to devote another column to the subject, highlighting questions and comments some of you raised.
Several readers asked variations on a very important question: Yes, but is this… gossip…? followed by some scenario. Let me start by reiterating something: there are situations in which it’s appropriate to talk with someone about a third person. Deciding which situations those are is where we must use discernment.
Here’s what reader Frances said by email

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