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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
What would St. Francis do?

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

November 24th, 2010
The Saint John's Bible — sacred art and contemplative tool

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
Now it's easy to check the latest on bustedhalo.com from your mobile device

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.

November 8th, 2010
How the American dream of marriage and family is increasingly out of reach for the less educated

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…

November 5th, 2010
Reflections on fear and faith at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

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
The results are in for our Freshman Survival Guide video contest

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

November 3rd, 2010
A group of NY artists create an old-fashioned forum for discussion about the Park51 Islamic center

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…

October 26th, 2010
How to make Halloween more fun and less foul

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 [insert anything else you can think of]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
Busted Halo’s Editor-in-Chief says goodbye after six years


When 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…

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
Letting go of the desire to be God's enforcer

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…

October 14th, 2010
The final part 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 12th, 2010
New research proves that successful women aren't overqualified for love

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…

October 8th, 2010
St. Paul the Apostle Church hosts 4th annual exhibit of contemporary artists

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,…

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

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