Busted Halo

Practical tools for your personal spiritual life from Phil Fox Rose.

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April 20th, 2011
An Easter meditation

I always go to the Easter Vigil. I don’t do it out of duty; I do it out of love. My own baptism happened at a vigil and my appreciation for the gift of life that was given to me brings me back every year. But more importantly, the vigil reminds me that renewal is not only for those being baptized — it is available to all of us, any time. Easter, among other things, is about what is often translated as being “reborn” or “born again,” but is more correctly rendered as being “born from above.” As Pope Benedict powerfully conveys in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week…, resurrection is not resuscitation, it’s “about breaking out into an entirely new form

April 18th, 2011
A Good Friday reflection

I am thinking about death. And ashes. Possibly this is because Easter is looming on the horizon, and if you have any truck with Jesus and think that what happened to him really happened, going through the Triduum is scary. Relentless. Deeply emotional, riveting, and scouring out of one’s emotional innards. Because in order to get from the Last Supper to the cool part where Jesus shares grilled fish on a beach with his disciples, you have to go through the crucifixion. And I so don’t want to do that.
I’ve been rereading Kate Braestrup’s amazing and emotional memoir, Here If You Need Me…, which chronicles the sudden and surprising death of her husband, Drew, a state trooper, as he chased a speeding

April 5th, 2011
A devastating church fire offers lessons in impermanence and perspective

At 5:30am Sunday someone driving up Route 9 saw our church on fire and called the fire department. Orange flames flew heavenward, taking with them everything that the 170-year-old building contained, including our prized grand piano which we’d fundraised for, parishioners buying individual keys of the 88 needed; our healing quilt that Annie Kner made for the auction of 2008, a quilt deemed too beautiful for any one person to own. We decided to purchase it for the church to act as our stained glass window. When a member of the congregation needed healing, we sent the quilt out to wrap that person in. Arnold Westwood, our beloved 88-year-old friend, died wrapped in the quilt.
I used to live in a 15-passenger…

February 25th, 2011
A look at the discussion about lying sparked by the Lila Rose videos

An interesting thing has happened because of the debate over Lila Rose’s tactics in going after Planned Parenthood. A serious discussion has erupted across the Catholic blogosphere about the morality of lying. As some of you will remember, I have written two columns here before about lying: “Radical Honesty” about two years ago and, last summer, “Are Affirmations Lying?“
I have enjoyed and been educated by the healthy debate among moral theologians and other deep thinkers, which was kicked up in part by the wonderful article here in Busted Halo…, “Building a Culture of Lie,” by Dawn Eden and William Doino Jr. I am not a theologian, but find the subject fascinating

February 10th, 2011
Helpful tool or digital distraction?

As Ginny Moyer’s recent article here on e-readers and the reader responses showed so eloquently, you’re either comfortable with digital replacements for technologies or you’re not. To me, while they have their limits, for sure, I love their benefits. For example, my iPhone and iPad are loaded with digital study bibles from Olive Tree and the iMissal app for daily readings and the hours. (I’ve also sung the praises of the amazing handwritten Saint John’s Bible and my home is filled with books.)
There’s a new iPhone app, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, from Little iApps, that’s been making quite a stir this week. Since I’m always looking for tools that might…

January 31st, 2011
A Muslim reflects on the old laws

Growing up as the token Muslim in my small Florida town, I was often the go-to person for all things related to Islam. Talk about pressure. Before 9/11 no one really bothered or had any reason to ask me questions, but after that day, curiosity piqued and I did my best to answer the questions of my peers. Most wanted to know if I believed in God, Jesus, Moses and the Bible, while others simply wanted to know why Muslims hated people in the West.
I’m no religious scholar by any means, but once I started explaining the basics of Islam to my peers, they shrugged and said, “Oh — I guess we’re more alike than we think.”
Ten years later, I still find that to be true.
Islam builds upon the foundations…

January 27th, 2011
Facing questions of direction and purpose

The other day, I was reading a biography of Fr. Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists, and it was describing the American challenge into which he was born: unlimited freedom of choice leading to a groundlessness — children weren’t expected to follow their parent’s career choices; people didn’t spend their whole lives in the same community and learn to live with and love their neighbors for better or worse; the authority of people and institutions was not recognized automatically. But what the American of 1850 saw as groundlessness would today seem stodgy and limited. Comparatively, we live in a world of almost complete lawlessness. This makes the desire for a sense of purpose —…

January 10th, 2011
Walter Parker (1939 - 2010)

When my neighbor Walter Parker passed away in October, I knew the following: he was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met; he spent a lot of time in front of our building shooting the breeze, or just enjoying it; and he had some crazy-sweet deal on his rent. That was about it. Walter was my neighbor for 15 years and occasionally we chatted, usually about the building or the weather, or something equally innocuous; often I would just nod and say “hi” and he’d do the same.
But when I attended his memorial service at Grace Church, I was startled to discover that Walter was a prominent and active member of his church community and a serious student of the Bible.
My first thought was, “Oh, what…

December 26th, 2010
They block us from our full potential -- are you willing to let go of yours?

In my recent interview about the spirituality of being on time, I talked about the fact that the spiritual answer is not just to behave, but to change oneself interiorly. Of course, that’s beyond the scope of this column, but I want to talk in this column about one aspect of what needs to change: character defects.
In twelve-step recovery programs, there’s an inventory process, where the person identifies those recurring patterns or tendencies that have caused them trouble — things like dishonesty, self-seeking, and envy. (Opinions vary as to the benefits of listing specific versus broad defects.) The Sixth Step then says, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects…

December 22nd, 2010
Convert, mystic, evangelist, American

Isaac Thomas Hecker died on December 22, 1888, at the Paulist House on 59th Street in Manhattan.
As the following biography of Hecker illustrates, being a “spiritual seeker” is not unique to the 21st century. Hecker’s own faith journey in the mid-19th century included Methodism, political activism, struggles with depression and dark nights of the soul, Transcendentalism, and, ultimately, Catholicism. It also brought Hecker into associations with such titans of 19th-century American thought as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Orestes Brownson.…

The harvest moon hung round and fat and orange over New York City’s East River that warm October night.

December 14th, 2010
Coming home to Christian faith through Buddhist meditation

I don’t think it was my parents’ goal to raise a family of passionless, non-churchgoing Protestants of an indeterminate denomination, but my religious education was made up mostly of playing Handel’s Messiah in the school orchestra and feeling a wistful crush on St. Francis in the movie Brother Sun Sister Moon…. That sounds flippant, but those impressions rang a thrilling chime deep inside me that was hard to describe. I found that trying to talk about that feeling with adults brought out the same tone of condescension they would use concerning pre-adolescent crushes. Yes, they seemed to say, you’re having some strong feelings you don’t understand, but there’s time

December 12th, 2010
The only gift we can all afford this holiday season

We look to the holiday season to lift our spirits and yet come January we are sometimes utterly depressed because our expectations were not met. There is reason to hope despite our engagement in two wars (or, to be more exact, one war and one occupation); facing global financial insecurity because of corporate greed; people losing their homes to foreclosure; millions of others who have no medical safety net; still more who are homeless, hungry or living under brutal and repressive regimes in Africa and around the world. Despite all this and more, there is reason to hope as we embark on the holiday season. In the center of all of this, in the center of our lives as families, faith communities, neighborhoods —…

December 9th, 2010
The author of Full of Grace reflects on the many ways Mary is relevant in our lives today

A while ago, just as summer was ending, I went to an art opening at Yale University. I met a student, a young girl about 18 years old, who possessed the kind of guileless beauty that needs no embellishment. As we talked in the heat of the crowded galleries, she took off her jacket, revealing to my surprise that she was covered, neck to wrist, with tattoos. Inscribed into her body were beautiful, artful images of flowers and storybook characters — several of Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things crept along her upper arm, Ariel from the Little Mermaid swam cunningly on her forearm, the rag woman Sally in Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas peeked from behind her elbow. These characters were the ones she loved best from childhood, she said, inflecting her words as though her youth were decades past.

We continued to make small talk, and eventually drifted off into conversations with others, but the memory of her painted skin and quiet beauty stayed with me. I was overwhelmed by the feeling I had been looking at the Virgin Mary, who bore the wounds of the world as her own.

November 29th, 2010
A daily review can help you stay on the path

It’s remarkable (though not really) how easily we can forget the emotionally charged things that happen in a day. The problem is that if we aren’t resolving them we aren’t really forgetting them. Take this example: a few weeks ago, I was having a delightful weekend day in the country. After brunch with a friend and an invigorating hike in the multi-hued autumn woods, followed by a relaxing evening preparing a home-cooked meal and curling up with a fun movie, I prepared to do the examen thinking it would be awfully quick, since it had been such an uneventful and pleasant day. Five minutes later, I found myself immersed in the recollection of a phone call I had gotten but not picked up during brunch,…

November 27th, 2010

Advent is a precious time in the Christian calendar. The four weeks leading up to December 25 are meant to be a period of expectant waiting, as we prepare ourselves for the miraculous arrival of our Savior, in the form of a vulnerable infant born to humble parents.

The reality for most of us, though, is that these are anxious weeks of shopping and holiday planning leading up to a hectic Christmas Day. In the bustle of the holiday season, it’s hard to remember what we’re waiting for.

Completely avoiding the Christmas onslaught may be impossible, but we can make an effort to maintain some connection to the spiritual foundation of this season. Busted Halo’s 2010 Advent Surprise Calendar is here to help a little with that.

In traditional Advent calendars, children open different windows throughout the season to reveal special surprises. Busted Halo’s Advent calendar brings its sense of surprise by showing you the whole calendar, but not letting you open each day and find out what’s behind the picture until that day comes along.

November 24th, 2010
The Saint John's Bible — sacred art and contemplative tool

As I sit before the illustration accompanying the story of creation in The Saint John’s Bible, I see representations that are obvious — the seven days; Adam, Eve and the serpent; land and sea. And I see many that are less so — little gold boxes, a bird. My mind plays at filling in the gaps. The person next to me is doing the same. After a few minutes, we turn to each other and share what we saw. Within moments, this sharing has turned into an excited discussion of the creation stories and the symbolism involved, referencing back to the illustration again and again. In the final phase of the exercise, our facilitator calls on people and we hear all the things they saw and how they interpreted them — some quite surprising. Now, this is fun bible study.

And that’s page one. The immensity of The Saint John’s Bible project is hard to convey. It’s been over half a millennium since a completely handmade illuminated bible has been produced, and this project has been 12 years in the making, combining the production, theological guidance and financial commitment of Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota with the artistic direction of the Queen’s scribe, Donald Jackson — whose life dream this has been since 1970 — and his calligraphy team in Monmouth, Wales.

October 17th, 2010
Letting go of the desire to be God's enforcer

Recently, I sat next to a woman on the long bus rise to the country who spent an hour on the phone tracking down the owner of the hair salon she’d been at earlier that day. (We’ll put aside for this discussion that you are asked not to use your cell phone on the bus unless it’s an emergency, out of consideration to your fellow passengers.) Once she got the owner, she launched into a detailed complaint about the service she’d received from a stylist, firmly suggesting that the stylist needed to change her approach to customer relations and that the owner needed to appreciate the importance of good customer service in retaining clients. But instead of the thirty-odd words I just used, she lectured…

October 14th, 2010
The final part in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

In more than a dozen highly influential books, evangelical pastor Brian McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelical Christianity, stressing issues of social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. But McLaren’s politics are best understood as an outgrowth of his religious thinking. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, published in early 2010, sets out to reread the Bible from a 21st century perspective, deconstructing its Greco-Roman narrative, emphasizing the Jewish context of early Christian belief, and proposing a more open-ended view of Christianity’s sacred text as “an inspired…

October 7th, 2010
Third in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

In more than a dozen highly influential books, evangelical pastor Brian McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelical Christianity, stressing issues of social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. But McLaren’s politics are best understood as an outgrowth of his religious thinking. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, published in early 2010, sets out to reread the Bible from a 21st century perspective, deconstructing its Greco-Roman narrative, emphasizing the Jewish context of early Christian belief, and proposing a more open-ended view of Christianity’s sacred text as “an inspired…

September 29th, 2010
Second in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren

Novelist Clyde Edgerton and Rev. Eric Porterfield, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, went to speak with McLaren at his home in Maryland. In this, the second in a series of excerpts from their conversation, they talk with him about his belief that our concept of God continues to evolve over time.

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