Busted Halo
September 1st, 2009

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


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 a few fizzles he met Nicole, who worked at a Starbucks out in California. They agreed on everything from natural family planning to the greatness of Braveheart, and felt an intense connection that grew stronger with every email and long distance phone call. Their first meeting occurred about a month after they had started talking, when Jeff paid for Nicole to visit him in Indiana — where he was working in student affairs at the University of Southern Indiana. He asked her to marry him the weekend she arrived. They married on August 16, 2003, and about a year later they celebrated the birth of their first child.

Jeff and Nicole are not alone. More and more people are going online to find a date or meet the love of their life. According to Online Dating Magazine, the number who have participated in online dating in the United States is now nearly 40 million.

By the numbers, internet dating just makes sense. “One hundred sixty million people have internet access and 80 million people are single, and it only stands to reason that people don’t want to have to introduce themselves to strangers at strange places to meet someone” says Evan Katz, an expert on online dating and the author of I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Common-Sense Guide to Successful Internet Dating, “Lots of people are looking

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August 31st, 2009


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 Busted Halo readers to Kevin, a young man who was struggling with dating and romance in this economic downturn. I asked readers to share their personal stories and wow, did I get some heartbreaking — and inspiring — tales.

P.J., a 34-year-old single man, says he relates to Kevin’s predicament: The recession has dealt a serious blow to his dating life because feels he doesn’t have enough money to “court properly” and his job “is not stable or professional enough to attract the type of attractive women I would like to date.” Others, however, reported silver linings of family time and deeper emotional connections after some of the material pressure of a go-go-go economy had been removed.

Indeed, dozens of you responded to our survey. As summer turns into autumn and we approach the one-year mark of the worst of the recession, it’s time to reflect on how finances have impacted our relationships.
Looking at cheaper alternatives
From pedicures to lattes and travel to eating out, some 68 percent of Busted Halo respondents have cut back on their day-to-day spending in the last year. K, a 25-year-old woman engaged to be married, says she’s cut …

August 27th, 2009

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

August 26th, 2009


“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 government to release Abdel Al-Megrahi, a convicted terrorist, on grounds of compassion.

The news was splattered across every television screen and newspaper around the world, sending the blogosphere into a torrent of typing. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi — a man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 — was heading home to Libya, a free yet dying man. And before Al-Megrahi even set foot on the tarmac of the Glasgow Airport in Scotland, the world’s ire was zeroing in on one man, Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, who stood in front of the cameras and delivered a bold statement:

“It is my decision that Mr. Abdel Basset Mohamed Ali Al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and be allowed to return to Libya to die,” MacAskill said.
Criticism from politicians and family members
The criticism came quick and swift.

“The news today from Glasgow turned the word ‘compassion’ on its head. The bombing of Pan Am 103 was unforgivable,” Senator John Kerry said in a written statement.

“This man was convicted of murdering 270 people. He showed no compassion to them. They weren’t allowed to go home and die with …

August 25th, 2009


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 school with a guaranteed income.

Suddenly, all my humiliating career reverses had meaning. My misadventures in the field of home finance didn’t make me a loser; on the contrary, they were signs I had been earmarked for a higher purpose. Who needs a career when you’ve got a calling?

After Mass ended, I raced out of the church and introduced myself to the novice master, who received my inquiries warmly. He told me that I wouldn’t be eligible to begin my novitiate until I’d been in the Church two years, which gave me a year to wait. Still, he said, I should write to the province vocational director. “That way, when you do become eligible, you’ll have a regular contact person.”

Publishers who would shrug at a submission from Max Lindenman might fight for the rights to the work of a Fr. Thomas Mary, O.P. Warmed at the thought, I began outlining my autobiography. It would be just like The Seven Storey Mountain, only with better one-liners.

I delayed writing. If experience had taught me anything, there’s a catch to everything, and I wasn’t at all eager to find out where this one might be. The daydreams I’d started spinning were too tasty to throw aside. Entering the priesthood would mean inheriting a literary venue. Publishers who …

August 24th, 2009


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 says in The Challenge of the Soul. “Our ability to respond effectively to that mystery, rather than becoming paralyzed by it, helps to define us.”

A self-proclaimed gonzo rabbi, Niles takes teachings from all sects of Judaism and other world religions to reinforce the idea that the purpose of religion is not to restrict us, but to develop us and let us live greater lives. The purpose, the goal in life: a balanced, and seeking, soul.

We talked with Niles about his life, soul search and yetzer hara, evil inclinations.

Busted Halo: The press has called you the “Bad Boy Rabbi.” I don’t know you well enough to say if that‘s true. Does the label resonate with you?

Niles Goldstein: If that means I’m unethical, then I’m not comfortable with that label. But if by “bad boy” — and this is what I think they meant in the article — that I didn’t play by other people’s rules, I was willing to push the boundaries, I broke a lot of people’s presumptuous stereotypes, I was hard drinking, womanizing, and liked to push the envelopes in ways that most ordained members of the clergy wouldn’t — in that sense, I don’t mind being called a “Bad Boy Rabbi.”

BH: Your new book, The Challenge of the Soul, is entirely immersed in G-d, spirituality,

August 23rd, 2009

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

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 uncomfortable in a new environment or still sorting out what they’d like to pursue. A conversation with an advisor or just a little more time can usually solve—or at least settle down—those worries. Although these situations are not always an easy fix, switching schools, transferring to a new college when you’ve just gotten used to one, is not a decision to make lightly. We asked transfer students Erin and Patti to share their stories.

Erin’s Story
I was told college is the time to learn about yourself: who you really are, what you actually want to do, how loud you can play Journey without the RA’s hunting you down. You don’t even notice, but your actions fall into patterns that you begin to recognize, and you really get a grasp on what your strengths are.

Leaving high school, I didn’t know my strengths at all. I had no idea what to major in or what college to look into because I didn’t specialize in one thing. I was that kid who did everything—I had no real calling. Everyone said to follow my heart, but the things I loved to do were dance and write, and …

August 19th, 2009

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

August 18th, 2009


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 story on Jude Law’s lovechild scored mentions all over the web, but I was secretly bummed out that the ex-girlfriend had been forced to compose a baby registry alone. Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to work close to the stars… but now that I’m a reporter, I often face an ethical dilemma.

Sister Kathryn King is a spiritual director and Franciscan Sister of Peace at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish on Manhattan’s ritzy Park Avenue. Sr. Kathryn says that unfortunately we forget to make an important distinction when we choose which stars to emulate, and she sets the bounds for us, explaining: “There are who accomplish something of significance that contributes to the common good in some way, and they develop a reputation based on their competency or contribution.” Morally and psychologically, we can feel pretty okay about following these stars. But, she continues, “then there are other who seek to become famous for its own sake. They value notoriety and money no matter how it’s acquired, or who is harmed.” Sr. Kathryn says that an important question for us to keep in mind is, Does our culture value being famous over other values such as education, family, personal health, or making a social contribution? In other words, it’s …

August 17th, 2009

var flashvars = {};flashvars.soundFile = “http://www.bustedhalo.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/03%20From%20This%20Place_%20master.mp3″;flashvars.width = “290″;flashvars.height = “24″;flashvars.leftbg = “0×840000″;flashvars.lefticon = “0xffffff”;var params = {};params.menu = “false”; params.wmode = “transparent”; var attributes = {};attributes.id = “myDynamicContent”;attributes.name = “myDynamicContent”;swfobject.embedSWF(“/audio-player/player.swf”, “myContent”, “290″, “24″, “8″,”expressInstall.swf”, flashvars, params, attributes);Click above to play From This Place, the title track from Deanna Witkowski’s new album, or launch the popup player. Purchase mp3 tracks or the physical CD on Deanna Witkowski’s site.

Pianist-composer-vocalist Deanna Witkowski‘s dual paths of disciplined jazz musician and person of faith converge in her fourth recording, the genre-defying From This Place. Marrying ancient and modern sacred texts with the richness of jazz, it is her most honest and soulful work.

Ms. Witkowski’s three previous releases, Length of Days (2005), Wide Open Window (2003), and Having to Ask (2000) clearly demonstrated her prowess as “one of the best of the new generation of jazz pianists” (Jazz Journal International) and showcased her rich fusions of jazz, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban music. Her “consistently thrilling playing” (All Music Guide) was publicly confirmed in 2002 when she won the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Invitations to appear on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” and “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” followed in 2003.

In May, Witkowski appeared at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival with her project, “Moving with the Spirit: The Sacred Jazz of Mary Lou Williams,” an official educational component of the annual event.

Busted Halo: You mentioned before we started that you never really grew up in one place…

Deanna Witkowski: Originally I was born in New Hampshire but we moved eleven times while I was growing up. My dad used to be in radio and he kept moving around to different radio stations. Primarily, a lot of the moves were between western Pennsylvania and western New York, like in the Rochester area. He was a DJ for about half the time and the other half he was a sales person.

BH: Was he a DJ for a pop station or a

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August 17th, 2009

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, Louisiana to Southern California—and asked them to talk with us about the issues they see among new students and how they suggest dealing with them. With religious diversity on the rise and religious knowledge on the decline we spoke about the state of interfaith relations on campus and how students can best navigate the exciting—but sometimes dangerous—waters of college life.

Our panel included:

Amir Hussain, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theological studies at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles; author of Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God
Amir Hussain, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theological studies at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles and author of Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God

Fr. Larry Rice, CSP, Director of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at Ohio State University

Rabbi Yonah Schiller, Executive Director of Hillel at Tulane University, New Orleans

Rev. Scott Young, Protestant campus minister; Co-Founder and Director Emeritus of the City of the Angels Film Festival, Hollywood.

Busted Halo: What advice do you give to a friend or relative just starting college? If you could, condense it into one piece of advice.

Prof. Amir Hussain: On all my syllabi I give …

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August 13th, 2009


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 promise and allure of the subject matter is so great that two British teenagers who’d lived through the Blitz filmed their own alternative history movie, over the course of eight long years, on that same theme: It Happened Here: The Story of Hitler’s England (1966).

Now, acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) has joined the long list of filmmakers who can’t resist making their own WWII fantasy-action flick.

Tarantino’s latest release is Inglorious Basterds (and yes, the misspelling is intentional.) Inspired by a schlocky 1970s Italian “macaroni combat” action picture of the same name, the movie is Tarantino’s homage to the “misfits on a mission” movies of old, like The Dirty Dozen.
Jewish revenge fantasy
This time around, the heroes are a Jewish-American revenge squad wreaking havoc throughout German-occupied France, not only killing but also scalping their Nazi targets.

In a parallel storyline, a beautiful young Jewish woman whose family was slaughtered by the SS somehow takes over the Paris cinema where Goebbel’s latest propaganda film will debut with Hitler himself in attendance. She plans to trap the audience of high-ranking Nazis inside and burn the building to the ground. “My name is Shoshanna Dreyfus,” she announces at one point in the film. “And this is the face of Jewish vengeance.”

” kosher porn. It’s something I dreamed since I was a kid.” —

August 12th, 2009

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

August 10th, 2009


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 is likely at play.

And if not noticed and tended to, they can lead you to very bad places: explosions at others, self-destructive acts, relapses into addictions.

The genius of HALT is that it reminds us of several things at the same time:

To halt before we act out, and reconnect with the divine.
To tend to our physical and emotional well-being — not just go running around on fumes without eating and sleeping.
That these feelings are ephemeral, and once we see them for what they are and let go of our attachment to them, they lose their power over us.

August 9th, 2009

applebees-insideIt’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 such a scam.” Other times, it will be one of my other friends who still can’t believe I spend Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in a big steeple house with an organ player and a guy in a long robe and some black shoes: “You’re still going to church, man? What a waste of time!”

Fortunately, I can usually rely on my girlfriend to have my back. She’s not technically an atheist, as she still prays sometimes, but then she drops a bombshell like, “I still share a relationship with God… I just don’t think there’s an afterlife.”

Don’t think there’s an afterlife?! What kind of a relationship is that?!

“Well,” she’ll say, twirling her wrists as if that explains everything, “I know God exists, I just don’t think there’s anything after we die.”

To which I ask, “Then what’s the point of doing all that praying in the first place, if you don’t think there’s an ultimate purpose afterwards?”

And she’ll just shrug.
Shrugging a lot these days
As a 25-year-old life-long Catholic, I find myself shrugging a lot these days too, but it wasn’t always this way. It started when my best friend started denying religion altogether, becoming, as he puts it, a militant Atheist. He is very persuasive, and when he turned his back on religion and discovered it to be what he …

August 6th, 2009
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, are all essential elements to her approach. Each chapter offers seven action items, ranging from individual efforts to activities that encourage the involvement of church and community. There are practical suggestions, relevant facts and background material, success stories, additional sources of information, and appropriate scripture references.

Want to win a copy of 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth? See contest rules just below our excerpt.

Watch What You Eat

The foods we raise, consume, and ship around the world require vast energy and natural resources. In addition, they also impact local ecosystems. Natural balance is overturned in streams, lakes, and oceans when we consume more fish than can be reproduced naturally. Also, genetically engineered crops raised for consumption influence wild plants, upsetting biodiversity. Finally, factory farming and industrial agriculture reduce the varieties and types of produce and animals and limit the genetic diversity that used to exist around the globe.

How To’s

Eat your fruits and veggies! Eating lower on the food chain saves energy and other resources. When you eat a variety of grains, fruits, and veggies, you will diversify both your diet and the animal kingdom.
Try to buy “simple” foods. If the ingredients list includes a lot of ingredients you don’t recognize, try to choose a simpler item.
Buy dolphin-safe tuna if you eat tuna.
If you buy …

August 5th, 2009

Walter did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.

August 3rd, 2009


Tim is an unmarried 29-year-old with a master’s in statistics. He’d like to meet a great woman, get married and start a family, but he says the recession has stalled his progress.

“I don’t have the disposable income to go out on a date,” Tim told me recently. Plus, he said, his self-worth is tied to his career. After a few years of underemployment in jobs that haven’t been intellectually stimulating, even if he did have some more cash on hand he wouldn’t really feel up to dating.

“Manliness is rooted in a career, and it is demoralizing to work in positions that require little to no education and have little to no prospect of upward mobility,” said Tim. “All this leads to a sort of psychology where, while I’m confident I can support myself, I know I cannot support someone else and especially not a child. So instead of dating with the intention to marry and have children I tend to gravitate towards women who do not want to get married and do not want children,” he told me regretfully.

And Tim isn’t alone in feeling this way. The unemployment rate will soon top 10 percent, and it’s men who are bearing the brunt of the layoffs: According to the Labor Department, men accounted for four out of five job losses since December 2007, as jobs in male-dominated fields like construction, manufacturing and financial services have disappeared.

During the Great Depression, my grandfather dated my grandmother for seven years before he proposed because he felt he needed to earn enough money to provide for her, and for a future family. Are we seeing this trend all over again?

Men without college degrees have been most severely impacted, but all guys have been feeling the hit. (Women are being laid off, too, of course, but at much lower rates, and economists predict that by the end of 2009 women will make up more than 50 percent of the labor force for the first time in history.)
Delaying marriage?
Talking with Tim brought back memories of my …

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