Busted Halo
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February 27th, 2008
BYU students are proud of their faith but it doesn't mean they're all the same

Bushy haired, scruffy and wild-eyed, a punk-rock singer bellows out the words to an irksome tune. Blaring throughout the campus, the singer’s lyrics laud the virtues of environmentalism. Students stop to enjoy the music and many even dance, punk-style, in front of the singer’s stage. The event could easily have taken place at UCLA or the University of Florida, but believe it or not, it took place at Brigham Young University (BYU). “Yeah, we can get a little wild here,” a passing student admits. “But who ever said you can’t be loud and still be a Mormon?”
With over 30,000 students, BYU in Provo, Utah is the largest privately owned university in the United States. Acknowledged…

February 26th, 2008
Young Catholics might be more serious about marriage than they are about the Church

Catholic young adults place great importance on marriage but have turned away from church-based ideas of how to make it work, according to a study released last week by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

For Catholic members of the “millennial generation,” men and women born between 1982 and 1989, marriage is not to be undertaken lightly. Some 82% of these teens and 20-somethings report that they believe marriage is a lifelong commitment, compared with only 56% of Catholics age 47 to 64—approximately their parents’ generation. Moreover, 84% of these young Catholic adults report concern that “couples don’t take marriage seriously…

February 22nd, 2008
Fr. William Byron helps move prayer beyond our own desires

For many people, prayer is a private matter. Most of us prefer to pray alone and often squirm uncomfortably when someone suggests saying grace in a public place. We don’t often consider it proper to vocalize a prayer aloud.
But as William J. Byron, SJ points out, “The entire Christian world knows that when Jesus taught his followers how to pray he did not tell them to say ‘My Father.’ Rather, he instructed them to say ‘Our Father.’” We are often so preoccupied with our own day to day needs that the needs of others take second place—or perhaps even a distant third or fourth. Making time to pray simply for ourselves is a challenge in our culture, and our forgetfulness…

February 19th, 2008
A new survey reveals significant generational differences in Catholic attitudes toward marriage

Do you believe that your spouse should be your soul mate first and foremost? Do you agree that marriage should be whatever two people want it to be? Do you believe that living together decreases the chances of divorce? Depending on your age, you’ll probably have very different answers to these questions.
A new study released last week by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University found significant generational differences in attitudes about marriage, daily married life and the role of the Catholic Church in the sacrament of marriage.
Relationship Goldmine
All you regular readers of Pure Sex, Pure Love …know how I adore studies, surveys and statistics about what young-adults

February 15th, 2008
On being Black and Catholic in America

It was as if I was a kid again. The gospel choir numbering at least 30 strong lifted their voices to the rooftop. The pulse of the music, aided by drums, a saxophone, a bass, and a huge sound system, shook the rafters and rushed through my veins. My hands almost instinctively came together to clap as I joined in song. Praise and worship showered over the largely African American congregation with the joy-filled “Alleluia” and “Amen” bursting from every corner of the church. All the great memories of going to church with my dad came rushing back to me. The only difference was, instead of this being a Southern Baptist congregation like that of my father’s, the stations of the cross along…

February 13th, 2008
Rather than condemning The Vagina Monologues the Church should be listening to what it is telling us

“The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time,” wrote Pope Paul VI in 1975. Occasionally I am reminded of this “drama” when some Catholic group boycotts something. But nothing makes me more aware of how deep this split is than the debate over the performance of The Vagina Monologues …on Catholic college campuses.
The Cardinal Newman Society has waged the most aggressive and successful campaign to remove the play from these campuses. They claim that the number of performances has declined annually from a peak of 32 on Catholic campuses in 2003 to 19 performances this year. College presidents and bishops have also added to the drama. Some of the responses

February 12th, 2008
Security concerns for Barack Obama are evidence that race is still very much an issue for some Americans

Recently, several media outlets, including the New York Times, have printed stories on the increased security surrounding the Senator and his family. “Obama must be wary of the assassin’s gun” was a headline in The Australian…, a major newspaper in the land down under. Members of white hate groups increase their rabid, racist rhetoric on the internet, cowardly hiding their identities behind anonymous website login names, just as they used to hide under white hoods.
Whites should be infuriated and ashamed when we learn that a Google search “assassinate Obama” gets almost 200,000 hits. I am disgusted when I realize the admirable and brave Michelle Obama and her beautiful little

February 8th, 2008
An Orthodox Christian college student ponders salvation

So Heath Ledger passed away a few weeks ago, the final outcome of a long struggle with depression, substances, and wild living. While the thousands dying of starvation and neglect around the world are undeniably a bigger concern, I did find myself shocked and saddened. Although my generation has seen turmoil and tragedy in the world, from 9/11 to Iraq to Katrina, we haven’t really had a single Kurt Cobain-type figure around whom we can rally.
My favorite authors, from theologian Rob Bell to columnist Chuck Klosterman, find deeper meaning in pop culture, and in my own life, art, music, literature and film have always been tied to understanding God and appreciating His universe. I was baptized and raised Orthodox…

February 5th, 2008
When will the Church comment on the evils of Big Tobacco?

There’s a new cigarette on it’s way, one which Philip Morris, the world’s largest producer of cigarette products, hopes will meet the changing cultural and social needs of today’s smokers. The soon-to-be-launched “Marlboro Intense” will allow smokers to cope with indoor smoking bans by taking quick, deep puffs of a shorter but more potent cigarette during a quick outdoor break.
It’s an insidiously brilliant idea—and one that has global human implications to which the Catholic Church must pay attention.
Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International will become two separate companies, parent company, Altria, announced this week. By doing this,…

February 4th, 2008
Men, women and sports

My husband isn’t speaking to me. He isn’t speaking to anyone, really. He’s crushed by the Patriots defeat in last night’s SuperBowl.

I’m not that chatty either, but not because I care one way or another about the Giants’ upset last night. I’m just exhausted from hosting a big SuperBowl party, after a weekend of traveling.
I got up at 4 a.m. to fly from New York City (where LaGuardia was all decked out in Giants banners) to Iowa City. A snowstorm was headed for us, but I couldn’t be delayed: We were hosting 25 people for a SuperBowl party.
Super Snow Storm
Crazy? Yes. I don’t recommend hosting a party on a day which you begin 1000 miles away. But as the saying goes,…

January 30th, 2008
Ginny Kubitz Moyer's book, Mary and Me offers contemporary women's experience of the Blessed Mother

For many young women, their sense of Mary, mother of Jesus, is relatively one-dimensional. They recall a humble, pious woman who was submissive to both her husband and her God. Or she’s the woman in blue whom we crown with roses every May and who adorns our gardens peacefully. The modern female, it might seem, would have little in common with a woman who seems so out of touch with contemporary life.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer’s book, Mary and Me… (St Anthony Messenger Press, Jan. 2008) shatters all those presumptions by compiling reflections and stories from 46 modern women of all ages about their relationships with Mary. While the author uses traditional Marian titles like “Our Lady of Sorrows”

January 25th, 2008
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood stuns and confounds

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood… literally starts off with a thud. Only a few minutes into the film, set in late 19th and early 20th century California, the protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) loses his grip on a ladder and plunges down a shaft where he’s been excavating for silver.
When Plainview emerges, small chunk of silver ore in hand, Anderson shows us his changing fortunes with a few, quick brushstrokes. We see Plainview lying on the floor of an office, stretching the leg he shattered in the plummet, while surveyors certify his valuable discovery. From there he’s onto oil. He strikes crude with a small crew, and before long he’s making successful,

January 21st, 2008
Looking at Obama through King's eyes

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Almost 45 years ago, the Baptist preacher whom our nation honors every third Monday in January, delivered a speech that is easily one of the greatest in American history. In it, he laid out his vision for what a beautiful country America could become despite the indelible marks left by racism and hatred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fought within a hostile political, religious and cultural context to bring about unity, equality and peace. His speech, “I Have a Dream” was a rallying cry for change. And now, decades later,…

January 15th, 2008
New prayer website encourages people to look for God bubbling up beyond Sunday

Food, water and shelter are universal needs that transcend borders, age, gender, race, class and religion. But a visit to www.Other6.com is enough to demonstrate that human beings hunger and thirst for something less tangible but more profound: the presence of God.
On any given day at the site, you’ll find a South African man seeking conversation and inspiration, or a grieving Chicagoan asking for strength following the recent deaths of three family members. They—and hundreds of other people—are finding hope, enlightenment and solace on Other6, an innovative web site launched by Loyola Press for people of all faiths who desire deeper meaning in their daily lives. Father Paul Campbell…

January 10th, 2008
Behar's bad "View" on Saints

Whoopi Goldberg is a great comedian. So is Joy Behar. But, as it turns out, they’re not great theologians. On the daytime talk show “The View” this past Wednesday, the conversation turned, somewhat improbably, to the saints. What happened next would burn up the wires of the Catholic blogosphere for the next few days.
First, Ms. Goldberg said that Catholics pray to statues, and so therefore we were praying to idols. Well, not exactly. Catholics don’t pray to statues, any more than you think that a photo on your desk of your dog actually is your dog. And when we do pray to a saint to ask for their prayers, it’s the same as asking a friend to pray for us. But that’s a popular misconception,…

January 4th, 2008
or, how I almost committed election fraud

Caucusing can be confusing. But I was giddy all day about this opportunity to make a difference and shape national politics. I mean, how complicated can caucusing really be?
As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I’m new here, but I understand that Iowans have a big responsibility to serve as a screening instrument for the nation. So I was prepared: I learned about viability and I understood how delegates would be elected. I’d met many of the presidential candidates. I packed bottles of water and snacks in case things ran late.
Just know from the start I was prepared and taking things seriously, OK?
When I arrived at my caucus site—a local high school—I had to register to vote. I filled out my form, chatting…

January 3rd, 2008
Our intrepid reporter gets a birdseye look at the Iowa Caucus experience

I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker. I don’t make eye contact with strangers as I walk down the street. I lived in the same apartment building for decades, and couldn’t tell you my neighbors’ names. And when it came to voting, I’d usually cast an absentee ballot, in the privacy of my own home, and then refuse to disclose my vote to even my closest friends (and never to my parents).
This year, for reasons unfathomable to many of my city-slicker friends, I left New York City and moved to Iowa City. And all of a sudden, my life has become public…. Folks stop and say hi to me on the street, my neighbors organized a block party to welcome my husband and I, and tonight I’m going to stand in the cafeteria

January 2nd, 2008
Many LDS members hope Mitt Romney's candidacy will shatter stereotypes

What does it take to shatter a stereotype? Advertising executives have their own recipe: cook up a snappy creative campaign, stir in a few press releases, serve in major media centers. This may work for consumer products, but changing the popular perception of a cultural or religious group is a social study of enormous proportions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently engaged in this decades-long process.
With the media coverage of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, all of America is witnessing or participating in the Church’s struggle. Mormons themselves of course hope that one man—one presidential candidate—can change the way the nation perceives…

December 22nd, 2007
"A Christmas Carol" Lives On

If there’s one story everyone knows, it’s “A Christmas Carol.” The saga of the miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s meanest man into a grateful, humble, compassionate human being has touched untold millions—more like billions—of people since its publication 164 years ago. It hit the stands December 16, 1843, and within a week had sold 6,000 copies. What writer today wouldn’t kill for that kind of a success?
“A Christmas Carol” has been so popular and enduring, in fact, that it’s become part of our very linguistic heritage. Expressions like “Bah, humbug!” and “God bless us, every one!” are…

December 21st, 2007
Christmas consolation...a belated obituary

It’s a Wonderful Life, is a great story, and I hope yours is a Bedford Falls kind of life. But our Pottervilles, both social and personal, still cry out for salvation, most poignantly during Advent and Christmastime.
I write this without attaching my name in deference to my mother and my family, who in no way need nor deserve to be exposed in an article of this nature. Still I write, hopefully, to comfort and console, especially at Christmas, those like us who experienced the death of a family member whom we wanted to love.
It was a little over a year ago that I received word that my father had died. To make things more painful, we learned that he had died two weeks earlier. It was just a strange coincidence that saw the…

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