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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…

November 6th, 2008
The human side of the foreclosure crisis hits close to home

When my husband and I started looking for a house this past spring, we were in the same boat as a lot of first time homebuyers. We knew that we couldn’t afford much in the overpriced housing market of our metropolitan area, Washington DC. We knew that we needed to get a steal in order to find a house that would accommodate our growing family. We loved the neighborhood, the proximity to public transportation, and the big poplar trees that provided a canopy over our street. We were smitten and we did end up getting a steal—we paid two thirds of what the previous buyer had paid only a few short years ago. My husband and I however had no idea that the purchase of our starter home in Falls Church would leave us knee deep in…

November 3rd, 2008

Almighty and ever–living God, bound in faithful love to Your people, be attentive to our deepest needs; for as a nation we place all our trust in You.
Since election day approaches, we pray for all those who have placed their name before the people; to seal their commitment of public service for the common good. Purify the intentions of those who deserve the public trust. Transform self interest into compassion for Your people, as You make them harbingers of our future.
Empower each voter with Your Spirit; so that as the free people of Your creation they may recognize truth and personal integrity in those they choose. May the representative government they place in service mirror their own commitment to search…

October 28th, 2008
Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It. by Julia Duin

Last spring, a Pew Forum survey of U.S. religions revealed that American Catholicism is barely treading water, with Latino immigration offsetting the departure of more settled believers from the church. The Religious Landscape Survey of 35,000 Americans set off a storm of finger-pointing within Catholic circles, with many people spouting the conventional wisdom that evangelicals are booming at the expense of Catholic departures.

October 27th, 2008
Why religious and non-religious couples are using NFP

Let’s talk about Natural Family Planning. Wait… wait… did you just grab the mouse to click away to another screen? Give me a chance.
When you think of Natural Family Planning (NFP) you might think of barefoot-and-pregnant super-religious types who are out of touch with modern science. The words “conservative” or “creepy” or “weird” might pop into your head. I know. I’ve had those thoughts myself. In fact, until recently, the only thing I knew about NFP was a stupid joke:
Question: “What do you call a couple who practices natural family planning?
Answer: “Parents.”
But a few things happened recently: I got yet another letter from a reader requesting that I address NFP (a subject I’d…

October 24th, 2008
After decades of debate over abortion, something new has occurred this year. Maybe this isn't as polarizing of an issue as we think...

After decades of debate over abortion, something new has occurred this year.
First, the Democratic Party is now not just using pro-choice language; it is also acknowledging the need to do something to reduce the number of abortions. Democrats, like presidential candidate Barack Obama are now willing to say that abortion is a moral issue—something the pro-choice lobby always opposed. Democrats are now promoting social and educational programs that will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and help pregnant women have their babies. In other words, after many years of insisting that abortion be legal and safe, the Democrats are finally emphasizing that it should be rare.
This new emphasis by the Democrats…

October 23rd, 2008
Why America's decency, civility and moral integrity is at stake in this year's election

As they reflect upon this election, young people ought to step back from war, the economy, and other pressing issues and recognize that the critical issues of our day continue to be abortion and marriage. Young Catholics stand to gain, or lose more than anyone else in this election because of the candidates� profoundly different views about these two issues. Abortion undermines our decency and civility as a society more than any other form of aggression.

October 19th, 2008
Religious Leaders from a Range of Faiths Discuss Belief and the Vote

Over the past few months, we’ve been bombarded by political ads and the hype surrounding next month’s presidential election. But do we really pay attention to what the pundits and spin doctors have to say, or do we vote our conscience? And what role, if any, does religious upbringing play in helping us decide?

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