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December 22nd, 2008
What will you give away?

How should we celebrate Christmas in tough times? Maybe the way we should have been celebrating the birth of Christ all along. All religious traditions call us to be generous and care for the poor and needy.
“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
To see that saying framed and embroidered you have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life … very often and closely. Capra’s camera focuses in on the saying, which appears under the picture of Peter Bailey, as George and Uncle Billy discuss how to confront the run on the bank. George and Mary put up their honeymoon money to keep the “old, broken down” Bailey Building and Loan afloat, and out of the hands of miserly Mr. Potter,

December 19th, 2008
The Vatican's "Dignitas Personae" has powerful things to say about complex medical issues... but is anyone listening?


“Spare us from the Pharisees and Scribes pretending to be concerned with life!”
“It’s ridiculous that we’re still pitting science against religion in the 21st century.”
“The Catholic Church, once again, remains in the middle ages with its teachings.”
“Dear Vatican & co.: please go away.”

To say that the reactions to media stories on the unveiling of Dignitas Personae were resistant and hostile—those listed above appeared in comments to articles in the National Catholic Reporter and The New York Times—is probably an understatement. For many, this latest document is simply more evidence of a Church that is anti-science and anti-technology,

December 19th, 2008
How to handle those pesky relationship questions this season

‘Tis the season for Christmas parties, family gatherings … and pesky (but well-meaning) friends and relatives asking you when you’re going to get married. Yep. While we enjoy the anticipation of Advent and look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ, for many young adults this is also a season of waiting — with more than a bit of dread — for the family inquisition into your love life.
Maybe it’s just an innocent comment from your great-aunt: “So, dear, any special someones in your life?” Or perhaps your family is more direct, with relatives tsk-tsking about how “you’re not getting any younger” when you say that “the one” hasn’t…

December 15th, 2008
One chocolate maker believes the curative powers of lovingly prepared food can be scientifically measured

Many of us grew up being nursed to health with grandma’s chicken noodle soup. But ever wonder why it’s not quite the same when we get it from a can—or even from a gourmet counter? Jim Walsh, founder and CEO of Intentional Chocolate, says it’s all about intention. That’s why grandma’s soup made us feel better. It’s why a friend’s made-from-scratch brownies cheer us up. Walsh believes that by applying the same concept to his chocolates, he can help heal the world in his own little way.   Walsh says it goes deeper than simple goodwill; it incorporates the cacao bean, quantum mechanics, shamans from the Amazon jungle, mind-over-matter technology, Buddhist monks…

December 12th, 2008
Before "Doubt" the Oscar winner found the spirit on stage in an "unwieldy" Jesus

With the much-anticipated release of Doubt, Philip Seymour Hoffman is once again receiving the kind of critical kudos reserved for actors who are generally tagged as the ‘best of their generation.’ His portrayal of Fr. Flynn, in John Patrick Shanley’s film version of his Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning play, has already garnered Hoffman a Golden Globe nomination. This is not the first time the Oscar-winning actor has dealt with difficult religious topics in his work however. In his new book, A Jesuit Off-Broadway, James Martin, S.J.—who served as a theological consultant to Doubt…—recounts his experiences as a consultant to the debut production in 2005 of the off-Broadway play “The

December 11th, 2008
18 and looking for more than just sex

I want to have sex.
There I said it; it is out in the open, loud and clear, true and honest.
My girlfriend wants to have sex.
We have been in a relationship for a month now, quite happy together. We click, she and I. She has been giving me hints for a while now, and lately she’s been coming close to flat out saying it.
So if I want to have sex and my girlfriend wants to have sex… then what’s the problem?
The problem is that I’m a Good Catholic Boy.
On the outside, my religion is what holds me back. It is what makes her so angry. She can’t understand why I’m behaving this way, why I don’t just give in to our passion. I can’t understand why this is such a problem for her.
Being a Catholic…

December 10th, 2008
Busted Halo speaks with the director of "Soul Searching," a new documentary about monk, writer and peace activist, Thomas Merton

Introduction and interview by Bill McGarvey
It is no surprise that a young seeker—as Morgan Atkinson was back in the mid-1970s—would be interested in the life of Thomas Merton. Merton’s journey from poet, artist and bohemian to poet, writer, artist, activist, mystic monk has all the required elements of adventure, risk and creativity that easily sets fire to the imagination of a young man looking to find his way in the world.
But, unlike so many fascinations that grip young minds for a brief time before being replaced by newer interests, Atkinson’s attraction to Merton’s life remained strong more than three decades after he first discovered the Trappist from Kentucky. After

December 10th, 2008
Forty years after his death, Thomas Merton still causes controversy

Forty years ago today, Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and perhaps the most popular American Catholic writer in history, stepped out of a bathroom shower during a visit to Bangkok. Slipping on the wet floor, he grabbed a poorly wired fan for support and was electrocuted. For many years, Merton had unsuccessfully sought permission from his superiors to travel outside his monastery in Bardstown, Kentucky. A few months after a new abbot was elected in early 1968, he assented to Merton’s request to attend an interfaith conference that December in Thailand. En route he met the Dalai Lama, who called him a “Catholic geshe…,” or spiritual master.
Merton enjoyed paradoxes, and spoke of himself, like

December 8th, 2008
Readers share their experiences with and reactions to NFP

So a few weeks ago I began a series on Natural Family Planning (NFP) to start an open and honest discussion about the what, why and how of NFP. The response has been tremendous: Nearly 150 of you replied to the online survey and many submitted in-depth, heartfelt comments about your personal experiences.
According to our BustedHalo survey, 76 percent of readers said they plan to practice—or already do practice—natural family planning. Wait… hold up, I said to myself as I looked at the data: These results caught my eye instantly.
Since numbers from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tell us that fewer than 4 percent of married Catholics report using NFP methods to plan and space…

December 8th, 2008
A young, modern, well-educated woman discusses her choice to use natural family planning

When Mary Alice Teti read Dr. Christine Whelan’s recent article on natural family planning (NFP), she was excited to see such an important issue being discussed on BustedHalo. Mary Alice—who knew Christine from college—thought the original article only explained the “what” of NFP, however, and wanted to see a broader discussion of the “why” of this Church teaching. Why would a well-educated, intelligent, modern married woman choose not to use contraception? …
I celebrated my thirtieth birthday this past August. My husband and I just bought our first house, and this weekend we are going shopping for a new car that will accommodate the car seat for our baby who is

December 4th, 2008
American Elites and Their Response to Torture

Panel 2, part 1 (see part 2 and Further Reflections below)…
The photographs that revealed the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. American military personnel and civilian contractors are seen engaged in practices prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and U.S. and international law. Further revelations about CIA rendition policies, deaths in custody, Guantanamo detainees, and government secrecy raise critical questions about U.S. culture and the practices and conditions that have fostered the resort to torture.
This Headline Forum, sponsored by the Fordham Center for Religion and Culture examined two issues:

What in U.S. culture predisposes us

December 2nd, 2008
Popular Culture, Graphic Representations of Torture and Violence

Panel 1, part 1 (see parts 2 and 3 below)…
The photographs that revealed the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. American military personnel and civilian contractors are seen engaged in practices prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and U.S. and international law. Further revelations about CIA rendition policies, deaths in custody, Guantanamo detainees, and government secrecy raise critical questions about U.S. culture and the practices and conditions that have fostered the resort to torture.
This Headline Forum, sponsored by the Fordham Center for Religion and Culture examined two issues:

What in U.S. culture predisposes us to torture or to a tolerance

December 1st, 2008
In response to Cara O'Brien's "Do We Invite God"

I smiled ruefully on reading Cara O’Brien’s article, “Do We Invite God?” Whether to “invite” God to the wedding is clearly a sincere question for her—and many other young adults. But it indicates both a common misconception (as if God needs an invitation to be present and care for us) and a fundamental mistake that many brides make by getting so wrapped up in their wedding that they miss the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony. I urge young couples to strive to keep things simple and get married, not “wed-Dinged.”
Many young women planning weddings think in terms of what is best for “me,” what “I” like, what “I”…

November 24th, 2008
Frustrated American dieters seek spiritual support

As you gather round the family table to give thanks, you’ll consume anywhere from 2000 to 7000 calories as you graze on turkey, stuffing and candied veggies galore. Certainly not everyone is so fortunate to have a horn of plenty this time of year, but the majority of Americans will eat their fill… and then some.
As we gobble gobble, a growing number of groups caution us God might not approve of that second piece of pie. Yes, that’s right. The omnipresent world of wonder diets and slim-down regimes now has a foothold in the world of the omnipotent.
I wrote this piece for USA Today but thought that it might have some resonance with young adult spiritual seekers as well. Post your thoughts below……

November 19th, 2008
A financial advisor and a scripture professor offer advice on how to navigate the current economic crisis

Whether it is the rising cost of your weekly grocery bill, water cooler rumors about layoffs or the nightly news, everyone is reminded about the downturn in the economy on a daily basis. Last month, the Pope was quoted as saying, “We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing.” While that may be true on a spiritual level, money is an inescapable aspect in our daily lives. If money vanishes, so does our ability to feed, clothe and house ourselves.
For most of our generation, this is our first experience of a global financial crisis. What should the government do? What should we do as Christians? Busted Halo interviewed Timothy Sandoval, a professor of the Hebrew Bible…

November 18th, 2008
A young bride-to-be struggles over God's place in her wedding ceremony

The women sitting behind my mother were horrified. They had just heard the wedding vows of a radiant young couple, vows that included no mention of God or any church. They began whispering and tsk-ing halfway through the vows, and didn’t let up.
Hearing this story made me think about my own vows.
I’m just beginning to plan my wedding and, as a writer, I feel obligated to write my own vows. But I haven’t decided, just yet, what or who might go in them, or what or who might not.
Once firmly in the realm of houses of worship, wedding ceremonies have moved outdoors, out of the box and out from under the robes of the church.
But not every couple married in a church is deeply religious. Not every couple married…

November 16th, 2008
Descended from the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s, The Twelve Tribes strives to restore true Christianity

When Shuvael and Matanah Hebert sold their upscale, four-bedroom home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to join a controversial Christian commune called the The Twelve Tribes, friends and family said they were crazy. But seven years later, the middle-aged couple insists that they have no regrets, despite sharing bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a washing machine with 40 devoted members in a community home in a working-class area of Brunswick, Georgia.
“It’s about surrendering completely to God’s providence,” insists Matanah, 45, who also left behind a well-paying chemist’s job. Matanah, who doesn’t wear makeup, perfume or jewelry because God didn’t…

November 13th, 2008

Father George Coyne, SJ, former director of the Vatican Observatory, talks with host Mike Hayes about the Catholic Church’s official view on evolution with regards to scientific theories and religious interpretations of the origin of the world. As part of our ongoing series “Googling God: Resources for the Spiritual Seeker,” Fr. Coyne covers topics like:

Is intelligent design science?
Can a Catholic believe in evolution?
Are the stories of scripture scientifically based?
What does science say about our religious beliefs?…

November 12th, 2008
A boomer contemplates the millenials on the night of the election

Nov. 4, 2008 — … I’m hanging out in an enormous public room at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. A large screen TV has one election coverage team chattering and there is an even larger screen on which is projected another channel’s chatterers. We flip from channel to channel (Fox News eliciting boos and laughs), while the screens flip between the talking heads and brightly colored maps of the U.S.A. The states are slowly filling, red and blue and more blue.
Dozens of students, black and white and Latino and Asian, lounge on couches or chat with friends. They type on laptops and click and text. Many have one ear bud from an iPod in one ear; the other ear is “open” for the outside world. This

November 11th, 2008
Honest answers for young adults' frank questions

This past Sunday I gave a lecture on sex, dating and relationships at the Newman Center at the University of Iowa. As a professor here, I teach classes on the American family and introductory sociology courses, so I’ve heard a lot about the undergraduate hook-up culture. My students aren’t sure what a hook-up really means, or how to find a lasting relationship when casual sex is the norm. So when the Newman Center invited me to speak to young adult Catholics on these issues, I jumped at the chance.
To prepare for the talk, I attended at Thursday 10 p.m. Mass where about 75 committed Catholic undergrads served as a focus group: After I explained why I thought it was important for issues of sex and dating to…

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