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September 4th, 2009
Challenges for Bible Belt atheists

A red Hyundai with a Darwin fish and an “atheist” license tag eases up to a fast food drive-through window in Huntsville, Alabama. A van pulls up behind it. Five children slip out, line up along one side of the car and chant “God loves you” and “Praise Jesus.” The kids scramble back into the van, congratulated by a high-fiving mother.

Blair Scott — the 38-year-old, cherub-faced man in the red car — still chuckles about it a year later, joking that the kids yelled “god-scenities” at him. The quick-to-laugh Scott shrugs off the negative attention — which also includes 75 hate emails and at least one death threat a week. Scott is the founder of the largest atheist organization in the state, the North Alabama Freethought Association (NAFA) in Huntsville.

In 2004, NAFA had two members; today it has more than 200. Scott says that a decade ago, three atheist organizations in Alabama floundered, but now 10 thrive. “Atheists are on the rise in Alabama. But we may not be what you think,” he beams.

September 2nd, 2009
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September 1st, 2009
Father Dave has a laugh with Laughter Yogi Vishwa Prakash

The practice of yoga has been popular in the United States for many years, but Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP from the Busted Halo® Show on Sirius XM Radio recently discovered a twist to this ancient discipline in the form of Laughter Yoga. Laughter Therapist and author Vishwa Prakash is the head of the North American office of Laughter International, an organization of 10,000 active clubs worldwide that promotes spiritual, physical, and psychological well-being through the practice of laughter yoga.  The Laughter Yogi recently invited Fr. Dave to partake in his Laugh Yoga workshop in New York City.
And listen to Father Dave’s extended interview with Laughter Yogi Vishwa Prakash on the Busted Halo® Show.…

August 31st, 2009
Busted Halo examines three popular Catholic internet dating services

Jeff Whitfield shouldn’t need any help meeting women. When he talks in his calm, Kentucky drawl about his past rambunctiousness and the salvation his faith provided him, he sounds charming, self-possessed, and likable — not the kind of guy who would need an online dating service. In fact, he wouldn’t have expected it ether. Jeff’s initial impression of the people who use internet dating sites was characteristically blunt. “They’re losers,” he used to say.
The problem is, the people he kept meeting weren’t exactly winners. Jeff was tired of the bar scene but wasn’t sure where else to go, so he thought he’d give CatholicSingles.com a try. After…

August 31st, 2009
Our readers weigh in on how the economy has affected their love lives

Katie, 27, and her fiancé, Ryan, got engaged in October, 2008, just as the economy was beginning its free-fall. Ryan was graduating from law school and, with a job lined up at a good firm, he planned to start paying off more than $150,000 in student loans. But in February, Ryan’s law firm withdrew their offer, laying off employees and downsizing their operation. Katie’s salary as a Catholic school teacher wasn’t going to be enough to make ends meet and pay off the loans. While Ryan searched, unsuccessfully, for another legal job, the young couple was in a bind. “Should we still get married? How will we live and survive?” Katie remembers asking herself.
A few weeks back, I introduced…

August 27th, 2009
Video 1 - "Since then I’ve always worked hard in school"

Facundo’s family left Argentina to find work in California.…

August 26th, 2009
Are justice and forgiveness mutually exclusive?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
For many who go to church every Sunday, these words roll off the tongue like a drop of dew on a morning leaf. Most of us don’t even think about the radical forgiveness we are committing ourselves to granting, every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. We acknowledge through the words we speak, however, that the forgiveness we receive from God is tied closely to the forgiveness we grant others. Nothing, I believe, can be tougher yet show more of God’s love than a true act of forgiveness. For that reason, it behooves me to add a slightly different, questioning voice to the debate raging over the recent decision by the Scottish…

August 25th, 2009
How I decided not to become a priest

Around the middle of last February, just as the Lenten spirit of penitence was starting to kick in, an unexpected guest turned up at evening Mass. Tall and lean, graying and bearded, wearing a Dominican habit and an air of stern benevolence, he looked like central casting’s idea of a Grand Inquisitor.
It turned out that wasn’t too far from the mark. He was, in fact, novice master for our province of the Order of Preachers. After the Gospel reading, he took the pulpit and delivered what amounted to a recruiting pitch for the order. To my own surprise, I found myself straining to take in every word. Becoming a Dominican sounded like a capital idea. Between the travel and the scholarship, it reminded me of grad…

August 24th, 2009
The gonzo rabbi talks about his new book, finding growth in adversity and seeing G-d everywhere

Niles Goldstein is famous for taking Judaism back to its roots: tradition, rebellion, mysticism and G-d. His last book, Gonzo Judaism, showed the exciting, provocative and exhilarating parts of being Jewish and living Jewish lives. His new book gets a littler more personal. The Challenge of the Soul… is part memoir, part soul-help, and proves that G-d really does give kudos to the badass.
Goldstein is all about using adversity as opportunity. He’s a black belt in karate and founded the New Shul in Tribeca. In this new book, Goldstein reminds us that spirituality, and G-d, exist everywhere we let them in.  It’s up to us to tap in for strength.
“We must accept that life is, fundamentally, a mystery,” Goldstein

August 23rd, 2009
A Catholic convert calls on his Church to be a positive force in extending health care to all

People of faith are not of one political party or the other — not all conservative or all progressive, all right or all left. But most people of faith believe as a core principle that we should love one another and care for one another — that this is how we express Divine Love.

Can we agree on this: Can we agree that it’s a scandal that tens of millions of Americans live in fear of getting sick, because of the ruin it might bring to their lives? And that many of the rest of us are only a layoff away from the same situation? This is not a statement of rights. This is not an argument for exactly how to extend to those people the security of universal coverage. But can we agree that it is for the Common Good that this be done?

It upsets me how little I’ve heard from religious leaders. Most notably, what I’ve heard from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While the bishops have gone on record multiple times in favor of universal coverage, their recent focus on attacking the current proposals gives the impression they are hostile towards the whole effort. I know the bishops want universal coverage. I’ve read the urgency of their words on the subject. But that’s not the message that’s reaching politicians or the general public.

August 20th, 2009
Finding the right fit isn't always easy

Often it’s the things that don’t turn out the way we’d planned that teach us the most about ourselves and what’s important. A more philosophical way of putting it—experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.
Patti started out at small women’s college. She made some great friends right off the bat but found the small college environment a little too… small. Erin was the classic ‘so good at everything’ student. She had to make a choice and dive in so she could find out what was right for her. She ended up finding out what WASN’T right for her.
At some point during freshman year nearly every student asks the question “Is this where I belong?” Sometimes it’s because he or she is simply

August 19th, 2009
Video 1 - "If I go back to my country my daughters will be facing what I am surviving"

A mother of six wants her daughters to avoid female genital mutilation.…

August 18th, 2009
In feeding the media beast am I killing my soul?

I knew I was in trouble the day I wrote a headline about Michael Jackson being a gay crossdresser. He wasn’t even in the ground yet, his dear family was mourning, and here I was exposing an intimate speculation about his life for the whole world and their grandma to read.
This was Michael Jackson. I spent all of 1984 kissing the cover of the Thriller album, and 25 years later here I was throwing him under the bus for… traffic…?
My work as a showbiz reporter for a popular website often leads to a dichotomy of values. My position can be positive or straight-up provocative; exciting or, sometimes, brutal. I hunt like a fox for updates on the Gosselin divorce, but then worry that their children are traumatized. My

August 17th, 2009
Busted Halo talks with the jazz pianist-composer-vocalist about music and faith

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August 17th, 2009
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders discuss the spiritual and religious challenges students face in college

One of the guiding principles behind Busted Halo… has always been that the journey in search of deeper meaning—that countless young adults are already on—is an inherently spiritual one. The transition to college life can be particularly difficult; for many it is the first time living away from home and the lack of structure can shake some students down to their foundation. But it is also a great time for students to ask the “big questions” about their lives and beliefs. Fortunately, most campuses are well equipped with people who can help with this sort of seeking.
We found spiritual leaders representing four different faith traditions from campuses across the country—from Columbus, Ohio and New Orleans,

August 13th, 2009
Inglorious Basterds and the new wave of "tough Jews" in movies

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you hadn’t taken that job, or gone to that school, or moved to that neighborhood?
In other words: what if you were living in an alternative reality?
Alternative history is a genre with a long pedigree, especially in the realm of science fiction. After all, who can resist wondering, “What if…?”
The epic saga of the Second World War, with its action, tragedy and larger than life heroes, has inspired many “alternative histories,” from the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode of the original Star Trek, to the 1992 novel-turned-miniseries Fatherland…, which depicts a world in which the Nazis defeat the Allies. The

August 12th, 2009
Video 1 - "I got five children; four were born here"

A Jamaican national with several American citizen children wants to stay in the country.…

August 10th, 2009
Avoiding triggers and staying connected to God

Ever want to bite someone’s head off just because they had the misfortune to cross your path when you hadn’t eaten lunch? Or hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before? Or when you were already angry about something else? Ever sit alone — or worse, in a crowd — and feel lonely and irritated at anyone and everything?
When I was on Father Dave’s radio show in June, we talked a little about HALT. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to write more about it. Self-help is full of acronyms and aphorisms and a lot of them are more cute than useful, but this one is a keeper. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired: When you feel irritated or anxious, one — or more — of those four conditions…

August 9th, 2009
Shrugging my way toward Bethlehem

It’s Thursday night. Work is off my back for the day. Friday is just ahead and the air is crisp and cool as I head to meet my friends at our designated weekly spot for copious calorie consumption: Applebee’s.
Once inside — after our hellos and “Work sucks’” — two things are bound to happen: 1) One of my friends is going to order mozzarella sticks, half-off (cause it’s late); and 2) Somebody’s going to criticize and make fun of me because I’m Catholic. Every single person I hang out with is an atheist, from my best friend to casual acquaintances.
Usually, it starts with a comment from my best friend, “Rich, why are you always… following that BS? It’s

August 6th, 2009
The last of four excerpts from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference
The green movement has taken root among Christians, with individuals and churches embracing eco-justice as a vital part of discipleship. In this four-part series, we will be excerpting chapters from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference… by environmental activist Rebecca Barnes-Davies, who makes a clear connection between caring for the earth and living one’s faith. Taking action is important, but it’s also about “not doing,” says Barnes-Davies. Knowing when to let go of control, doing no harm, resting, celebrating, and trusting that God is doing the work to care for creation,

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