Busted Halo
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September 4th, 2009
Challenges for Bible Belt atheists

A red Hyundai with a Darwin fish and an “atheist” license tag eases up to a fast food drive-through window in Huntsville, Alabama. A van pulls up behind it. Five children slip out, line up along one side of the car and chant “God loves you” and “Praise Jesus.” The kids scramble back into the van, congratulated by a high-fiving mother.

Blair Scott — the 38-year-old, cherub-faced man in the red car — still chuckles about it a year later, joking that the kids yelled “god-scenities” at him. The quick-to-laugh Scott shrugs off the negative attention — which also includes 75 hate emails and at least one death threat a week. Scott is the founder of the largest atheist organization in the state, the North Alabama Freethought Association (NAFA) in Huntsville.

In 2004, NAFA had two members; today it has more than 200. Scott says that a decade ago, three atheist organizations in Alabama floundered, but now 10 thrive. “Atheists are on the rise in Alabama. But we may not be what you think,” he beams.

September 2nd, 2009
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August 27th, 2009
Video 1 - "Since then I’ve always worked hard in school"

Facundo’s family left Argentina to find work in California.…

August 23rd, 2009
A Catholic convert calls on his Church to be a positive force in extending health care to all

People of faith are not of one political party or the other — not all conservative or all progressive, all right or all left. But most people of faith believe as a core principle that we should love one another and care for one another — that this is how we express Divine Love.

Can we agree on this: Can we agree that it’s a scandal that tens of millions of Americans live in fear of getting sick, because of the ruin it might bring to their lives? And that many of the rest of us are only a layoff away from the same situation? This is not a statement of rights. This is not an argument for exactly how to extend to those people the security of universal coverage. But can we agree that it is for the Common Good that this be done?

It upsets me how little I’ve heard from religious leaders. Most notably, what I’ve heard from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While the bishops have gone on record multiple times in favor of universal coverage, their recent focus on attacking the current proposals gives the impression they are hostile towards the whole effort. I know the bishops want universal coverage. I’ve read the urgency of their words on the subject. But that’s not the message that’s reaching politicians or the general public.

August 19th, 2009
Video 1 - "If I go back to my country my daughters will be facing what I am surviving"

A mother of six wants her daughters to avoid female genital mutilation.…

August 17th, 2009
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders discuss the spiritual and religious challenges students face in college

One of the guiding principles behind Busted Halo… has always been that the journey in search of deeper meaning—that countless young adults are already on—is an inherently spiritual one. The transition to college life can be particularly difficult; for many it is the first time living away from home and the lack of structure can shake some students down to their foundation. But it is also a great time for students to ask the “big questions” about their lives and beliefs. Fortunately, most campuses are well equipped with people who can help with this sort of seeking.
We found spiritual leaders representing four different faith traditions from campuses across the country—from Columbus, Ohio and New Orleans,

August 12th, 2009
Video 1 - "I got five children; four were born here"

A Jamaican national with several American citizen children wants to stay in the country.…

August 6th, 2009
The last of four excerpts from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference
The green movement has taken root among Christians, with individuals and churches embracing eco-justice as a vital part of discipleship. In this four-part series, we will be excerpting chapters from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference… by environmental activist Rebecca Barnes-Davies, who makes a clear connection between caring for the earth and living one’s faith. Taking action is important, but it’s also about “not doing,” says Barnes-Davies. Knowing when to let go of control, doing no harm, resting, celebrating, and trusting that God is doing the work to care for creation,

August 1st, 2009
Video 1 - "How are you not part of your family?"

A Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

July 28th, 2009
The third of four excerpts from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

This is not a suggestion to drink less water. It is, instead, a suggestion to curtail wasteful, personal use of water in our homes and congregations. There are both simple and more complicated things that we can do to reduce our water consumption. While one in six people in the world still lacks access to safe drinking water, most of us in the United States have potable water whenever we want. If we had to walk a few miles for the water we use to drink, clean, and cook, we probably would think a bit more about it and would certainly use less of it. While the world’s population grows, access to clean water is going to become an increasingly serious concern…

July 16th, 2009
Young churchgoers are shopping around for the perfect fit

I’ve done a fair share of shopping in my lifetime. I’ve shopped for shoes, for good restaurants, and for colleges. One thing I’ve never done is shopped for a church.
So begins my part in the latest shopping trend. Just two months out of college and two weeks into a new job in New York City, I’m starting my brand new life as a working woman. I have an apartment, I have a paycheck (albeit miniscule), but I still don’t have a church.
It’s not an easy transition to make. My experiences with Mass at my alma mater, Fordham University, were some of the richest of the past four years. The emphasis on Ignatian spirituality, the incredible community, phenomenal preaching, support and fellowship…

July 15th, 2009
The second of four excerpts from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

Garden

While supporting local farmers, eating organic, and eating lower on the food chain are all healthy and helpful, gardening is the hands-on way to connect with the beautiful biodiversity of God’s good earth. It is the most direct way to make sure food, seeds, and the knowledge of growing food stays in the local community. It is also a way to make sure heirloom plants do not become extinct and that your produce is raised exactly with your standards. When it comes to climate change, small gardens with a variety of plantings may be a good way for local communities to prepare…

July 13th, 2009
The spiritual-but-not-religious generation finds a kindred spirit in Thomas Merton

For those of us of the “spiritual but not religious” generation, it’s a hymn to our ears when a visionary like Michael Franti (of Spearhead) sings, “God is too big for just one religion.” Among my peers, monotheism may not be on the way out but mono-religionism is long gone. We spend less time in churches, but more time embodying spiritual principles through practices like yoga and meditation.
Globalism and discount airfares have bred a whole new level of cross-pollinated, hyphen-empowered seekers. A friend of mine calls himself a Zen-Baptist, while we all know of Sufi-spinning Jews, born-again Hindus, and more mongrel faiths than God likely intended when the Tower of Babel…

July 7th, 2009
The first of four excerpts from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth, How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

Many of us grew up being told to turn off the lights when we leave a room or to not hold the refrigerator door open while looking for a snack. While small, these and other suggestions to conserve energy are still important. Those who have taken any of the various online “ecological footprint” quizzes have learned that it would take four to ten Earths if everyone were to consume energy the way a middle-class American does. Knowing that we only have one Earth, and that most of our energy right now comes from nonrenewable, unsustainable sources, it is essential that we learn the most important ways to reduce our personal energy consumption. Small commitments add up…

July 5th, 2009
Punk fashionista Heidi Minx transforms anger into action for refugees

Heidi Minx’s tattoo-inspired clothing and styles have been featured by Spencer’s Gifts and peta2, on snowboards, guitars and the bodies of rock musicians worldwide, but lately the New York-based merchandising maven has her designs on matters of the heart. After working with Tibetan refugees in India last year, Minx launched the nonprofit organization, Built on Respect, enlisting grassroots support from bands such as Pennywise, Sick of It All, Channel 3 and the Cro-Mags along the way. When in India, Minx shares her business savvy by working with the Tibet Hope Center, Jamtse in Action, and the Institute of Tibetan Thangka Art; back home her goal is to educate anyone interested and “make…

July 1st, 2009
How motherhood made me rethink the Fourth of July

At 2 years old, my son is already a patriot.
This began around his first birthday, when he developed a massive love for flags. Every time we passed one on our walks, he’d point straight at it, his face lit up. This past Fourth of July, when a local realtor stuck business-card-bearing flags into every lawn on our street, Matthew was in ecstasy. My husband and I joke that in sixteen years he’ll shun any political candidate who doesn’t wear the stars and stripes on a lapel pin.
It’s not that he knows what the flag stands for, of course. I’d guess that his passion is a mix of things: the movement of cloth in the breeze; the bright colors; the fact that he sees something he recognizes. But his unabashed…

June 23rd, 2009
A skeptical Jesuit finds a holistic connection

When Dr. Hill removed his future son-in-law’s ruptured appendix two weeks before the wedding, it gave me a great line for the homily: “Salim is the only guy in history who is happy to see his father-in-law coming toward him with a knife.” It also gave me confidence in surgery. As I watched Salim and Bridget dance at the reception, I thought, “If Dr. Hill can make somebody that well, that quickly, maybe I should give him a call.”
Had to happen sometime. After passing fifty without ever having gone under the knife… it was time. The hernia on my bellybutton that used to be golf ball-size, was now a baseball. My waiting for it to fix itself didn’t seem to be working.
Dr. Hill looked…

June 20th, 2009
A conversation on fatherhood with anthropology professor Don Conway-Long

Fathers: They’re revered, adored and at times feared — even despised. No matter how you see your dad, you can’t argue with the fact that the way he fathered impacts your idea of family.
Anthropologist Don Conway-Long is fascinated with the shifting role of fathers in an ever-changing world. He teaches courses on gender and critical masculinity studies at Webster University in St. Louis. Conway-Long shares his thoughts on baby boomer and Generation X parenting on this Father’s Day.

Busted Halo: What’s your personal experience with fatherhood?
Don Conway-Long:… I’m a stepfather, grandfather and uncle. I have three, thirtysomething daughters whom I inherited in their early

June 18th, 2009
Busted Halo speaks with the movie's star, director and producer

In the few days since we published our interview with Jim Caviezel, events surrounding the election in Iran have added special resonance to his new film, The Stoning of Soraya M. (opens June 26).  In the movie, based on an actual event that occurred in Iran in 1986, an Iranian woman is the lone voice protesting the stoning of her niece under Sha’ria law.
In the following interviews, the film’s star, Shohreh Aghdashloo, director Cyrus Nowrasteh and producer Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ) discuss what compelled them to make this powerful and disturbing film. As Iranian-Americans, Aghdashloo—who is familiar to American audiences for her Oscar nominated performance in …House

June 15th, 2009
The star of The Passion of the Christ discusses faith, Hollywood and his new film The Stoning of Soraya M.

Being at the center of one of the highest grossing movies of all time can be both a blessing and a curse for an actor. The world now recognizes their name and face, but a role can be so iconic that they’ll have trouble breaking free of it in audiences’ minds (Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, for example.) If the role in question happens to be Jesus of Nazareth, that effect can be magnified many times over. It is a predicament that Jim Caviezel knows all too well. When Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ… was released in 2004, Caviezel, a devout Catholic, went from being a Hollywood actor who worked steadily to being the star of one of the most controversial — and profitable — films in movie history.

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