Busted Halo
 
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June 12th, 2009

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s newly revamped cable channel, NET (New Evangelization Television) recently started the first daily Catholic news television program entitled Currents. Deacon Greg Kandra — a 26-year veteran writer and producer for CBS News and a contributor to Busted Halo — now serves as the channel’s news director. He invited senior editor Mike Hayes to join the nightly conversation to discuss current trends in church-going as well as other issues surrounding the church’s engagement with younger people.

Watch the entire show here.

June 11th, 2009

mobiledevotional-insideMy life is quite busy. By day, I am an educator for young people and adults caught up in the criminal justice system. By night, I am a freelance writer. By vocation, I am an ordained minister seeking to reach the world in nontraditional ways. And by age, I am a thirtysomething New Yorker trying to live in and enjoy the city. My load is so full that I think it’s becoming harder to spend time with friends, and also, sadly, God. I am not one to say that I am too busy for God.  But I must admit that I’ve become too busy to connect with Him in the traditional way I’ve been taught. I’m talking about the “waking up at 5 a.m. to pray, meditate, read my bible and worship” kind of way. But instead of getting down on myself with the “Bad Christian” pity party, I’ve searched for another connection option; a technological, mobile one, if you will.

This is the information age. It is also an age when we connect to others through mobile devices and social networking. Being the techie that I am, I recently decided to use this technology to help me connect with God in a more consistent way. Ironically, the technology they make us believe we can’t live without has helped me stay connected to the God I can’t afford to live without.

So this is an ode. Better yet, this is a literary blessing to all of the technology (a.k.a. tech angels) that I believe is being divinely used to help me maintain my relationship with the Father. These tech angels are also showing me that, although I have a lot going on, I can still make time to feed my soul. So for all their help, I pray for a blessing upon them.

God Bless the iPhone — You’ve seen the commercials. If you have a need, there seems to be an iPhone application for it, even if it is a spiritual one. Do you ever get the desire to read your bible …

June 9th, 2009

200podcast-insideFour years ago when a relatively new technology called podcasting started gaining in popularity, Busted Halo® Director Fr. Dave Dwyer and Senior Editor Mike Hayes decided to dust off the skills they’d each honed in previous careers as broadcasters and started the Busted Halo Cast. This would be the first step into a much larger venture in which with Fr Dave became the full time host of The Busted Halo Show on Sirius XM Radio’s The Catholic Channel.

Despite the bigger venue on satellite radio, the Busted Halo Cast has ventured forth for 200 episodes with Fr. Dave and Mike now joined by Development Director Brittany Janis in answering your questions of faith each week. No question has ever been too far out of bounds. They’ve talked about everything from going too far sexually and the church’s teaching on getting tattoos to speaking in tongues and whether video games are sinful.

This week’s bicentennial episode takes on a extra special flavor as the crew hits Central Park for some al fresco podcasting while they take on whether an annulment applies to just one marriage partner or to the entire marriage as a whole? We also reveal our winners in our mystery voice game and you’ll hear Mike Hayes’ “Out of the Haze” preaching feature along with Coming Attractions for the Sunday Readings and our weekly Church Search.

June 8th, 2009

ww6-spiritualsolution-insid

If you are an alcoholic or addict, being spiritually unfit can be fatal. If not literally fatal then, as in my case, a living death — one definition of Hell is being alive and active in this world, feeling separated from God. And I spent years there. But today I live — and have for some time now — free, awake, fully alive, vital.

My earlier What Works column on alcoholism and addiction focused on self-diagnosis, and I could easily explain my own alcoholism by pointing to genetics and circumstances; but the root cause is spiritual — that God-shaped hole, that feeling of brokenness and alienation I was trying to assuage. I’ve met other alcoholics who had no obvious “causes” but I think we all share a spiritual longing.

Carl Jung wrote, to Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder Bill Wilson, that “craving for alcohol” is “the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness,” famously concluding the letter “spiritus contra spiritum” — the Spirit against alcohol.

As I said about not getting enough sleep, when you don’t feel connected to God, it’s easy to slip into irritability. A more accurate word is probably “sullenness.” And, if you’ll forgive a moment of word-nerdiness, “sullen” comes from the same root as “solo” and originally meant “alone.” How fitting, because that’s really what’s going on — you feel alone in the universe.

Recovery is not self-help

Let me be as clear as possible here: Recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction is not about self-help. The solution is not to gain knowledge and strength and willpower so you can beat it. As I’ve said before, it’s not even to admit you have a problem. Recovery is about recognizing that, alone, you are powerless to solve the problem. To receive the grace you need to recover, you must admit you need help from something greater than yourself.

June 7th, 2009

princesspriest_400px

Episode #8 — Interfaith Marriage… What about the kids?

NEXT WEEK: The Princess, The Priest and… The Velveteen Rabbit?!

Want to see more? Watch other episodes of “The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding” here.

Special thanks to Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors Temple, NYC. Contact her at cantorweddings.com
Send us your questions!

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Fr. Eric Andrews CSP, effective September 1, 2009, is the newly appointed President of Paulist Productions, the film and television ministry of the Paulist Fathers, located in Los Angeles, California. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked for Jim Henson and the Muppets on a variety of television productions.

June 1st, 2009

pspl92-balancingact-inside

For the last six months, I’ve been busier than usual with work. In January and February, I was promoting my new book Marry Smart and some new findings in mate-preferences research just in time for Valentine’s Day. All the while, I was teaching more than 200 students in two classes at the University of Iowa, grading papers, writing lectures and trying to get started on the book manuscript that’s due on July 1.

So I’ll admit it: I’ve been tired and grumpy and not a whole lot of fun for my husband, Peter, to be around. All of the best of me goes into my workday, and Peter gets the exhausted scraps. As we discussed our second wedding anniversary, which is coming up in a few weeks, Peter said he simply wanted a picture of me smiling and looking happy. That was my wake-up call.
The need to keep in touch
A few years back, I wrote a column titled “Too busy for God?” where I confessed that my prayers, meditations and conversations with God were falling by the wayside as I was go-go-going in my career. I spoke with several other young adults who felt the same way.

In that piece, I quoted Fr. Richard Sparks, of the Paulists, who reminded us that faith is a relationship, and relationships are about love and two-way communication: “It’s hard to keep and to deepen a relationship if conversation is sporadic or even non-existent. In one’s faith-hope-love relationship with God, we need to keep in touch regularly — quiet time, prayer time, praise or song time, quality time. If our relationship with God matters, we need to find the time or make the time even when busy to say ‘howdy,’ ‘thanks,’ ‘thinking of you.’ God is doing it in our direction all the time.”

Well, the same thing goes for your relationships with those you love here on earth. Reread Fr. Sparks’ advice through the lens of your marriage, or your relationship with your parents. It’s hard to keep up a healthy …

May 31st, 2009

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Episode #7 — Can we have an interfaith wedding?

NEXT WEEK: Interfaith marriage — What about the kids?

Want to see more? Watch other episodes of “The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding” here.

Special thanks to Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors Temple, NYC. Contact her at www.cantorweddings.com/

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Fr. Eric Andrews CSP is the pastor of Blessed John XXIII parish, which serves as the Catholic campus ministry for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked for Jim Henson and the Muppets on a variety of television productions.

May 28th, 2009

unkosher-inside

What does it mean to religiously attend church, temple or synagogue, live in a community where G-d’s laws are first and foremost, and then deliberately go on the internet in order to break one of the most sacred of commandments: Thou shall not commit adultery? It is no surprise that the internet has become an electronic meeting place for married men and women looking to have affairs; it may come as a shock, however, to learn that the web is also the hub for a growing number of ultra religious married people looking to start extramarital affairs with people who share their faith.

On sites like Craigslist and AshleyMadison.com (which carries the motto “Life is short. Have an affair.”) people who self-proclaim as “religious” can be found seeking out others of their faith tradition to be unfaithful with. In the past, philandering religious men went to strip clubs and so-called “kosher” brothels to retreat from their wives in secret. But there appears to be a trend of religious men and women seeking out affairs online; and one man has founded a website tailored specifically to his community’s needs.

“Every day I would see ads on Craigslist from the “frum” community. My wife and I started talking to them and realized there was a big need for this,” said Jerry (who does not wish to disclose his last name for safety), founder of Shaindy.com. Shaindy.com is tailored mainly to the religious and Jewish seeking extramarital affairs. Though the site is only two months old, Shaindy.com — with the tag line, “Jews Can Have Fun Too” — already has 2,500 members paying $99 annually for the right to log on and seek out other married people interested in having an affair.

“People always like to think that we are holier than thou,” Jerry said, who himself is a member of the Orthodox community. “Our community has the same needs as any other community — dating, drugs, cheating or whatever, and it’s silly to think we are ‘different.’”
Clearly they know it’s not Halachic
In fact, …

May 27th, 2009

ww5-honesty-inside

I always considered myself honest, and I had a lot of pride attached to that. I had a boss once who would stare you in the eye and just flat-out lie — I mean on the level of “The sky is green.” — daring you to challenge him. No one would, and we’d move forward as a company based on the sky being green. I was never that kind of liar.

As a teenager, when my friends snuck out at night or created cover stories of sleepovers and studying, I simply disobeyed my parents and accepted the consequences.

But there are other kinds of lies.

Let’s say you invited me to a dinner party and I had no intention of going. Odds are I’d say, “I’ll try to make it.” You’d get enough food and refreshments to include me. During the party, you’d have a nagging hope that I’d make it — and a quietly growing frustration with me for not showing up. By avoiding the slight awkwardness of the moment when you invited me, I’d cause lingering damage to our friendship.

I used to surround myself with untrustworthy friends. We used to profess undying devotion and then never show up for each other. It let me off the hook for being untrustworthy myself. But these days, I want to live with all my cards on the table.

I want to speak plainly about lying. Is it ever OK? My gut reaction is no. But it’s interesting how quickly this can get messy.

May 27th, 2009

meatmarketmass-flash

I attend church in a left-leaning parish that specializes in outreach services to students at the local university. It succeeds so well that every Sunday night at 7 p.m., the place turns into Studio 54 — a magnet for coltish, confident, overachieving young Catholics who glow as though someone tossed them into a swimming pool filled with chrism.

Or so it seemed to me two and a half years ago, when I began to attend catechism classes offered through the parish’s RCIA program. I was a thirty-four-year-old bachelor and grad school dropout. Since leaving the academic life, I’d bounced from one office job to the next. My own glow had long since faded.

But, in church, the promise of renewal hung in the very air. Through the rite of baptism, I was to be reborn in the spirit. Why, I began to wonder — as I watched the young Olympians prance off to drink microbrew and (I imagined, gnashing my teeth) abuse their flesh — could I not also hope for a backward projection of ten measly years, to the time when women wanted to date me and men gave a hoot in hell for my views on the threat of Russian expansion in the Baltic?

As I memorized the difference between doctrine and dogma, and the importance of perfect contrition, I filled my closet with Ed Hardy t-shirts and highlighted my hair. Every Sunday after Mass let out, I dutifully took my place in the small smoking section by the parking lot, waiting for God to grant me admission to a Ph.D. program, along with a girlfriend with bangs and a nose ring.

A fool’s errand
It didn’t happen. After smoking hundreds of cigarettes and striking as many Mickey Rourke-ish poses, I realized I was on a fool’s errand. An overripe thirtysomething can only keep his dignity in the company of his coltish juniors if they’re being threatened by town rowdies, and he’s Billy Jack.

I decided to leave …

May 25th, 2009

princesspriest_400px

Episode #6 — Why Can’t We Get Married To The Beatles?

NEXT WEEK: Can we have an interfaith wedding?

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Fr. Eric Andrews CSP is the pastor of Blessed John XXIII parish, which serves as the Catholic campus ministry for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked for Jim Henson and the Muppets on a variety of television productions.

May 22nd, 2009

5things-inside

The unofficial start of summer usually begins with barbecues, a long weekend away, visiting relatives, or heading to a beach town to visit your summer share cottage. Whatever your choice has been in the past, this year’s dreadful economy is bound to make at least some, if not most, of us reevaluate our summer vacation plans.

Even if financial concerns aren’t causing you to take a second look at vacation plans, you may be tired of the same old, same old. So Busted Halo decided to take a look at 5 possible vacations — ranging from lavish steals for the budget conscious, to family friendly activities, to serving those in need.

Volunteer Vacations
Want to experience a new culture at a low cost and simultaneously help others in need? Several organizations now offer the opportunity to help others in the third world, improve the environment, or serve the needs of others in another area. Often these vacations last for about a week — you learn about a new culture, meet fun people with similar concerns, and get to travel to a foreign country at the fraction of the usual cost.

The leader in the field of volunteer vacations is Globe Aware, which offers one-week vacations in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Jamaica, Romania, Ghana, Mexico, and China for less than $1300 plus airfare.

One should note that while the word vacation is in the title of these adventures, they should not be mistaken for traditional vacations. This is hard work — in might mean waking early and finishing a day’s work long into the evening. A trip I took to Nicaragua had us up at 6 a.m. to paint a roof before the sun baked down on us by 10 a.m. When the weather got too hot, we’d move on to an indoor repair project, or play with orphans,

May 20th, 2009

angelsdemons

In the gospel according to Ron Howard, absolutely everything is ominous when it’s undertaken at the Vatican. Whether it’s a member of the curia strolling down a dark hallway of the Holy See, or somebody steeping tea in the papal breakfast nook, the director who has brought Dan Brown’s novels to the cineplex loads down the moment with portent and peril. It’s a world in which you can’t help but imagine that even the gift shops are flooded with gloomy light.

Howard’s first adaptation of a Brown bestseller, The DaVinci Code, was a purgatorial mess. His second stab, Angels and Demons, ratchets up the excitement, cuts back on some of DaVinci‘s convoluted anti-Catholicism, and manages to be a mindless, mildly entertaining and lucrative blockbuster for the Memorial Day weekend crowds.

I’ve faithfully avoided Brown’s books despite their popularity, and after seeing the two films, I feel better about this decision all the time (although it made me a lonely man in airports, circa 2005.) Brown seems to have constructed his stories through focus groups, cobbling together elements from other popular, more inventive sources. Take a healthy serving of Indiana Jones, add a dash of the energy-technology-in-the-wrong-hands intrigue of The Saint for seasoning, and presto: you get Angels and Demons.

But compared to the torpid, interminable plod of its predecessor, The DaVinci Code, the film version of Angels and Demons might as well be Raiders of the Lost Ark. There’s enough action and arcana to keep your eyelids open this time. You could even call it a thriller. The violin-heavy soundtrack by Hans Zimmer has only one gear — relentless — which withers your nerves into submission, like it or not.

Trouble in Catholic land, again

The film starts, like DaVinci, with trouble in Catholic land. A beloved pope has just died. (Couldn’t they have at least tried something more imaginative than a John Paul II look-alike?) Ahead of the conclave, four leading cardinals have been kidnapped, ostensibly by a secret society of science-lovers still honked about the Galileo trial. Harvard

May 19th, 2009

princesspriest_400px

Episode #5 — How can we keep our wedding simple?

NEXT WEEK: Why can’t we get married to The Beatles?

Want to see more? Watch other episodes of “The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding” here.

Some links to discount wedding gowns
From Christine… “Here’s a link to a great place called VOWS in Newton, MA that has lots of discounted wedding gowns — I looked there myself, actually, and I can tell you there are wonderful dresses: www.bridepower.com… as of my writing this, there are 69 dresses under $500. There are also some wedding dresses on sale at jcrew.com for under $200 as well. Target did a great line of wedding dresses last year, but discontinued them this year, which is a shame.”
Send us your questions!
We encourage you to email us questions, or record a short video with your question and send it to us. If we use your video in a future episode, we will give you a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Send in your questions to weddings@bustedhalo.com and hear Dr. Christine Whelan, author of the Pure Sex, Pure Love column go head to head with Father Eric Andrews, a Paulist priest with more than 15 years of wedding experience as they debate your questions: Why can’t you get married on the beach? Why is the priest being such a jerk? Why do we have to talk about sex during pre-Cana? And many more.

Dr. Christine B. Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Fr. Eric Andrews CSP is the pastor of Blessed John XXIII parish, which serves as the Catholic campus ministry for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked for Jim Henson and the Muppets on a variety of television productions.

May 18th, 2009

iraqi_art-inside

The picture shows the rough wear of its many journeys. A cheap canvas tacked to a wall then tightly rolled and unfurled again somewhere else. The rolling and unrolling repeated a dozen times as its author fled her home, then her neighborhood, then her city, finally her nation. It’s the art of a migrant now. A person without a country. A refugee.

“Freedom and Beauty: The Art of Iraqi Refugees,” on exhibit daily through May 28th at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on West 59th Street in Manhattan, is an attempt to link American viewers and Iraqi artists. You should go see it. That canvas, rolled and unrolled with the wandering of a displaced person, is like a message stuffed in a bottle and tossed to sea: “We’re here! We weren’t numbers. War is very damned expensive,” they cry. Or maybe they sigh, or mutter. The pictures communicate exhaustion. Weariness. Mostly dark, charcoal drawings, maybe it is more accurate to say the pictures whisper, “Can you see what happened to us?”

Hanging in this peaceful church, the pieces are powerful. All are of people engaged in simple, everyday tasks, or in tasks that have become routine in the seven years since the United States invaded. In the ruined aftermath of war and for people living in exile, the simplicity of the images carries great weight.

The pieces are affectionate, tender, and mournful. Rev. Frank Sabatte, a Paulist priest and facilitator of the New York artist group that is sponsoring “Freedom and Beauty,” hopes they prompt dialogue. “We’re really inviting people to come and have a conversation with these Iraqi people through their art,” he said. “Good art prompts a conversation that never ends. It prompts of conversation about who I am with God and who I am with others. It makes the world bigger,” he said. One indication that the larger world is paying attention to the conversation sparked by “Freedom and Beauty” came in the form of a recent inquiry Sabatte received. The Museum of Modern Art in New York …

May 17th, 2009

"Heart On Sleeve" era Danielson, Daniel Smith (center)

Though he’d never want to take credit for it, the extent to which there is a Christian presence in indie rock — a scene generally suspicious of and cynical toward expressions of faith — is largely due to the presence of Daniel Smith. More than any other artist in the post-punk era, he has redefined what it means to camp out at the idiosyncratic crossroads of faith and art. On the avant-garde edges of both cultures, his series of visionary albums have proved he is beholden to neither. With Trying Hartz, a two-disc retrospective spanning the first ten years of his career, Smith offers one-stop shopping for the curious and confounded.

With 1994′s A Prayer for Every Hour, a series of songs designed to accompany each hour of the day that also served as his senior thesis at Rutgers University, Smith introduced us to his squeaky falsetto and band of merry siblings. The son of Lenny, a carpenter — who just so happens to have written the hymnal staple “Our God Reigns” — Smith drew his backing band from immediate family. Smith, the eldest of five (the youngest was only 11 years old at the time), and the original Danielson Famile came roaring out of Clarksboro, New Jersey, and would release four full-length albums, touring the world in matching hospital scrubs meant to symbolize spiritual healing. The music was admittedly odd — a mixture of surreal images and constantly shifting textures and tones — and connected with an equally eclectic cross section of listeners, from eccentric youth group kids to Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening.

Along the way, Smith would pick up new band members …

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May 14th, 2009

dd_histchannel_lgOur own Father Dave Dwyer, CSP, will appear in a show on the History Channel about the new movie Angels & Demons. It will air on Saturday, May 16th at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time (7 p.m. Central; 6 p.m. Mountain). Check your local listings for channel number and to confirm the time. The 2-hour documentary, Angels & Demons Decoded, will re-air on Sunday, May 17th at 12 midnight Eastern/Pacific, and again on Sunday, May 24th at 4 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. The show also features director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks. Fr. Dave appears several times throughout the show.

May 13th, 2009

ndinsideFor some it was the shot heard round the world. When Cardinal Francis George got up to preach on a cold Saturday evening more than a decade ago his message was even more bracing than the Chicago weather outside Old St. Pat’s church. “Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project” he said. “Essentially a critique, even a necessary critique at one point in our history, it is now parasitical on a substance that no longer exists. It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith in its integrity and is inadequate, therefore, in fostering the joyful self-surrender called for in Christian marriage, in consecrated life, in ordained priesthood.”

It was a sermon that stung many in the congregation who had walked over from a nearby hotel where the National Center for the Laity (NCL) had been sponsoring a large conference on the Church in the 21st Century. This all occurred during the Paleolithic age of the internet when human activity was still primarily reported on by editors at print publications or producers at TV networks. The dawn of the blogosphere was still ages away — information evolutionists place it sometime in late 2001 — so we were spared the wildfire of invective, accusation, incrimination and virtual excommunication that characterizes much of the scorched-earth blogologue among Catholics today. Sadly the same cannot be said for the current controversy regarding President Obama’s invitation to speak at Notre Dame, which has ignited an ugly — and too-often anonymous — call and response in the fractious choir of Catholic punditry.
Background noise
I was there that night listening to the Cardinal in a pew at the back of Old St. Pat’s, but I have to confess that, selfishly, my overriding emotion was simply relief that my presentation at the NCL conference that afternoon had gone smoothly. I had been asked to give a short talk on how I was able to reconcile my life as a secular musician and singer/songwriter with my Catholic faith. I had never addressed a religious group before and I had been struggling …

May 12th, 2009

blinkinside2Some call it intuition. Divine insight. Animal instinct. God’s Will. Whatever we label this natural ability to tune in to a deeper inner voice, the question remains: How do we develop discernment in the middle of chaos and indecision?

He may not call it the voice of God, but according to pop-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, best selling author of The Tipping Point, relying on your first gut reaction is a good way to gamble when it comes to making hard decisions.

In his follow-up book about how we make decisions, Blink, Gladwell looks at a team of firefighters interviewed about their decision-making process during moments of emergency. He concludes that when these professionals make decisions — like evacuating their entire team seconds before a burning ceiling collapses — they don’t logically compare all available options. Instead, they draw on impulse and previous training to assess the situation quickly and act.

What Gladwell is driving at, and what has baffled scholars for ages is: How do we decide? His premise, basically, is that we subconsciously process information more quickly and more efficiently than we might think. This leaves a question of context: If we really are evaluating millions of facts very quickly, how can we move toward a more intentional process?
A more intentional process
James Martin, a Jesuit Priest and author of several books including Becoming Who You Are, believes this kind of sensitivity is formed when we recognize the desires of our own heart.

“God is always calling us to make right decisions,” explains Martin. “His voice is like a drop of water on a sponge: it encourages, leads, and comforts you. It is a gentle invitation. But the spirit that pulls you away from God is like water falling on a stone: it is severe, startling, and causes a gnawing anxiety.”

For St. Ignatius of Loyola, 16th century Spanish saint and founder of the Jesuits, the discernment of spirit requires calm, rational reflection. “If you plunge a cup into a pond and scoop up muck from the bottom,” says Martin, “it will take awhile for …

May 11th, 2009

ww4-collier-closeup-inside

I was up late but had agreed to an early brunch with friends, so after about five hours of sleep I’m on my way to meet people I love and I am feeling decidedly unloving. In the bustle of the train, I can feel myself getting irritated by every little thing. I don’t love the world right now. Which is another way of saying I’m not in conscious contact with God.

Once, in a discussion group, a minister asked the Dalai Lama how he could be more effective spiritually; the Dalai Lama smiled and said, “Get more sleep.” (He reportedly gets eight to nine hours each night.)

Though few people go to bed early, most agree it’s a good idea. But when it comes to getting enough sleep, it seems like our nation’s ingrained Puritan work ethic kicks in. Cheating sleep translates into more time to do stuff. And productivity is sacred. The fact that any gains are fleeting if not false, we wash away with another quadruple-shot latté.

Americans don’t sleep enough

While the amount of sleep an individual needs depends on many factors, the National Sleep Foundation offers a “rule-of-thumb” range for adults of 7 – 9 hours. In their brand new survey, the average American gets 6 hours 40 minutes of sleep. But the story is much worse than that single stat. Seventy percent get less than eight hours. And the percentage of people getting less than six hours per night has risen from 12 percent to 20 percent in the last decade. A Gallop poll with data going back much further shows that Americans today typically get an hour less sleep per night than they did in 1942. And, while in the 40s the results were clustered around the eight hour average, now there are almost as many who get six hours as seven, and plenty who get five and even four hours per night. America is running on fumes. (And caffeine.)

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