Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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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?

October 16th, 2008
A reflection on the life of a deeply respected professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America

Last month, at age 71, the Catholic Church in the United States lost an important friend: sociologist Dean Hoge. Several years ago I had the privilege of working with Dean Hoge and two other scholars, Bill Dinges and Juan Gonzales, on a national study of Catholics in their 20’s and 30’s. The study was published in a book entitled Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice.

October 14th, 2008
Bill Maher issues a “call to atheist arms” in his latest documentary

In May of 2002, the comic Bill Maher faced the studio audience of his long-running program Politically Incorrect for the first time since learning ABC was canceling the show. As he sometimes did, Maher began the episode of PI—an irreverent roundtable discussion on current affairs—with a short monologue.

October 13th, 2008
Prayer in Pen

The Ramona Quimby Diary was my first journal. I was seven, and helpfully it was fill-in-the-blanks. For most of 1985, I recorded my deepest thoughts and darkest secrets in that red, spiral-bound book: I never practiced piano like I was supposed to. I had a crush on a boy named David.

October 10th, 2008
Must Catholics Have Their Wedding in a Church?

“My most powerful experiences of God have been outdoors—the glory of a sunset over a lake, a mountain vista, hiking in the woods. We want our marriage to start in this kind of setting.”

October 9th, 2008
A personal encounter with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen leaves a young reporter puzzled, inspired and intrigued

I recently learned of the Cause of Canonization of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (the process by which Fulton J. Sheen may become a saint). While I’m not and have never been a Catholic, nor even religious for that matter, I feel compelled to share a deeply personal story involving him that intrigues, puzzles and inspires me to this day.
An Encounter With a King
In 1975, I was an intern reporter for WROC-TV news in Rochester, New York. The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was a famous priest who wrote numerous books and hosted a television series entitled Life is Worth Living… (still seen today).
He’d also served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester earlier in his career, and was back in town to deliver a noontime

October 8th, 2008
When a beloved family pet passes away, how do we help children face the reality of death?

We found out over the phone, while on vacation. The housesitter called us to tell us that he was at the animal hospital back home with our cat, Smokey. And then he put the vet on the line. We heard about age-related kidney disease, complete renal failure. We learned that medication and intravenous fluids might help keep him alive another month—or maybe just another week.

October 7th, 2008
A Foreign City, a Stranger, and the Struggle With What You Can and Can’t Have

It happens in Bolzano, of all places, a bifurcated city that has been tossed back and forth between Italy and Austria for some time. It is a city of unspoken tension and forced politeness. You feel it when the waiters slam down your cappuccino and stalk off.

October 6th, 2008
A Parent, A Child, A Knife—and a Command from God. What Would You Do?

A few years ago during Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar, I was in a little wooden synagogue on the Lower East Side of New York City. The rabbi, a venerable man whose voice carried throughout the temple, was extremely charismatic. For the first time in my temple-going life, I found myself listening intently to the sermon.

October 3rd, 2008
The Prize-Winning Author of Gilead Turns Again to Questions of Faith and Loss

Readers familiar with Marilynne Robinson’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead will already know the central plot of her new novel, Home

October 1st, 2008
A BustedHalo® Guide to Being a Faithful Citizen

There’s no better place to start at this time in history than with the upcoming election and moreover, the issues that Catholics are most concerned about. Catholics are never single-issue voters and this guide will help Catholics in forming their consciences during election season to make the best possible choice they can make keeping their faith in mind alongside their political decisions.

September 30th, 2008
How Would Jesus Handle the Financial Crisis?

Quick! Grab every man, woman and child! The end is near! The sky will come crashing down upon us unless (that is), the bailout bill is passed.

Sure, this might be a slight exaggeration, but it is how some lawmakers in congress interpreted the plea by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for support of his $700 billion economic rescue plan.

September 29th, 2008
Paranormal State's investigator talks about God, Catholicism and the spirit world

Channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon, I stumbled upon a show I hadn’t seen before: A&E’s docudrama series Paranormal State.
All right, I thought. It’s kind of like the Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, and a little like The Travel Channel’s Most Haunted. I like it.
But it was really the show’s 26-year-old star, Ryan Buell, who caught my attention. I watched as he made the sign of the cross, prayed, invited a priest to bless the house, and gave its owners a couple of blessed medallions. The show’s religious turn kept me fixed in my seat.
Is he for real? I asked myself. To find out, I tracked him down and spent some time chatting over the phone.
The Birth of Paranormal State…
“Can you hold on a sec?”

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