Busted Halo
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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…

December 20th, 2007
The filmmaking brothers follow up their groundbreaking 9/11 documentary with In God's Name

On the morning of September 11, 2001 French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet—who had been working for three months on a documentary on firemen—found themselves filming inside the World Trade Towers as they collapsed. The events they captured on film that morning became the basis for their Emmy and Peabody Award winning documentary 9/11. According to Jules, their first-hand experience of that tragedy became the “first step in a journey that would take us around the world searching for answers to the meaning of life.”
That journey is chronicled in In God’s Name, which is the Naudets’ first film since 9/11. In God’s Name… (Sunday, December 23, CBS, 9:00-11:00 PM,

December 18th, 2007
A Modern Pagan Talks about Solstice, Christmas and the Spiritual Search

“I hope I’ll get it as a gift for Solstice,” said Andrea Bunch at a recent party when talking about a bottle of wine she had laid eyes on. Solstice is December 21st, the shortest day of light in the year and it is celebrated by Pagans and NeoPagans around the world. Andrea, 31, is a teacher in Chicago, an accomplished musician with two albums, and a NeoPagan. Before you start thinking only about broomsticks and the Salem Witch Trials, think again; our interview with Bunch answers everything you ever wanted to know about Pagan spirituality but were afraid to ask.
BustedHalo: Were you raised with a particular faith or religion?…
Andrea Bunch: Not specifically, but [my family] went to a Unitarian church.

December 17th, 2007
Why The First Christmas is not like any Nativity story you've ever heard before

Two years ago, biblical scholars John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg published The Last Week, a fascinating day-by-day account, based on Mark’s gospel, of how Jesus spent his final week in Jerusalem. Now, they’ve teamed up again to explore the beginning of Jesus’ life, unraveling what the news of his birth meant 2,000 years ago, so we can better understand its significance today.
In The First Christmas…, Crossan and Borg argue that the nativity story is far richer and more challenging than familiar sentimentalized versions allow. Not simply tidings of comfort and joy, the gospel stories of Jesus’ birth are also edgy visions of another way of life, confronting the status quo and demanding

December 13th, 2007
Mailer's final book reimagines God, the devil, heaven, hell and our search for meaning in the world

Who is God? Is he the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being of Judeo-Christian thought? Or might he be something less ultimate, more vulnerable? Might he even need our help? And if this is true, if we are God’s last chance, what hope is there for the future of the world?
This kind of freewheeling religious speculation isn’t seen much in contemporary American culture, but if anyone can still pose questions like these it’s Norman Mailer, one of the preeminent literary figures of the last half century.
Mailer, who died in November at the age of 84, was a celebrated writer with a taste for big topics and provocative ideas. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead…, was an instant classic, a gut-wrenching

December 11th, 2007
A young Mormon woman reflects on Mitt Romney’s recent speech on religion and politics

The Wall Street Journal called it “laudable.” The New York Times… called it “tragic.” So what do I think of Mitt Romney’s speech about religion in America last Thursday? As a Yale-educated Mormon woman raised in New York City, I might be expected to think something sophisticated and grand, like “historical” or “inspirational.” My word is actually quite simple: Relieving.
I’ve always trusted that Mitt Romney is a good man. As a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints in the same area where Romney himself goes to church, I’ve been privy to personal testimonials of his character and closeness to God. But his posing as the socially conservative

December 9th, 2007
One young family attempts to navigate the treacherous waters of Greedikah

The Maccabees didn’t stand a chance against the catalogs that began to appear in in mid-November. Our children, Jonah and Maia, began to look through them as a hobby. They each settled on one expensive present that would link their longing with that of a gazillion other children, Jewish and Christian, a terrifying and determined mob, plotting their conquests around the globe. We dreaded the arrival of the catalogs each afternoon. The children could spot them sticking out of our mailbox like eagles spotting a mouse from a great height. They were their Torahs, their holy books.
“I get to see it first!” Jonah, who was six, screamed.
“No, me!” Maia, who was two, shrieked.
Jonah could…

December 6th, 2007
Reflections on God from a Spiritual Odd Couple

The Faith Between Us, by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, is the story of a failed Jewish mystic and a would-be Catholic priest who meet and become friends while searching for the meaning of God. The book’s range is broad, encompassing rock-and-roll, drug addiction, cancer, sex, veganism, marriage and family, but it always comes back to the same small group of inescapable, maddening questions. What is faith? What is belief? What is holiness? What is love? Bebergal and Korb are a kind of spiritual Odd Couple, separated by religion and life experience but bound together by a thirst for God and a deep trust in one another. The book they have written is funny, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, unsparingly honest…

November 30th, 2007
A selection of Grace before meals gathered from different faith traditions

The prayers listed below were excerpted from: 100 Graces: Mealtime Blessings and represent a cross-section of thanksgiving prayers from a variety of faith traditions.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers from BustedHalo.com…
Native American
Creator, Earth Mother,
we thank you for our lives and
this beautiful day.
Thank You for the bright sun
and the rain we received last night.
Thank You for this circle of friends
and the opportunity to be together.
We want to thank You especially at this time
for the giveaway of their lives made by the
chickens, beets, carrots, grains and lettuce.
We thank them for giving of their lives
so we may continue our lives through this
great blessing. Please help us honor them
through

November 30th, 2007
Mixing song, spirituality and social action

Brad Corrigan (aka Braddigan) certainly understands extremes. Dispatch, the trio he formed with college friends in the 1990s, became an independent music phenomenon. They spent years building an enormous following of rabid fans through the internet and touring only to break up at the height of their popularity (their 2004 farewell concert in Boston drew an estimated 110,000 people). Corrigan then returned to the drawing board and put together a three-piece acoustic, rock and reggae outfit, Braddigan— featuring Reinaldo De Jesus on drums and Tiago Machado on bass—and began dividing his time between playing clubs all over again and devoting energy to the various ministry and justice causes…

November 27th, 2007
Five recommended spiritual reads for Advent and Christmas

This year will be different.
That’s the promise many of us make to ourselves just after Thanksgiving each year. We make silent oaths that we won’t spend too much on Christmas presents. We tell ourselves that we won’t overindulge at holiday fêtes, and that we’ll take some time to really …savor the true meaning of the season.
We kickoff our Christmas preparations with the best of intentions, but often we don’t nurture any part of ourselves other than our latent inner shopper. Yet, the days of Advent and Christmas can be most meaningful when we take time to attend to our spiritual lives.
Fortunately, there are a number of great resources out there to help. A great antidote to the

November 19th, 2007
A review of A Jesuit Off-Broadway

In his latest book, James Martin, SJ explores the work of a contemporary priest and exemplifies the quintessential Jesuit as cultured, literate believer who seeks to “find God in all things, in all peoples and in all environments.”
A Jesuit Off-Broadway recounts the months Martin—author of My Life with the Saints and an editor at America magazine—spends as the theological advisor and unofficial chaplain for the LABryinth Theater Company in New York while they mounted a brand new play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. When company member Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James…) took the role of Judas he sought out Martin for crash courses on New Testament theology, the historical

November 8th, 2007
The author of The Year of Living Biblically talks about what it's like to live by "The Book"

Countless believers pride themselves on leading Bible-based lives, but let’s face it: there’s a big difference between donating to the Christian Children’s Fund and downloading Jars of Clay onto your iPod, and diving headlong into the ancient world of Moses and King David—swearing off clothing made of mixed fibers, stoning adulterers, and growing a beard that makes you resemble the Unabomber.
In his latest book, The Year of Living Biblically, Esquire… editor A.J. Jacobs sought the “ultimate ancient-Israelite experience,” devoting 365 days of his life to following the Good Word—as literally as possible. Jacobs set out to obey every rule in the Bible. Thus,

November 6th, 2007
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist discusses fathers, sons, a vanishing America and Bridge of Sighs

Some believe him to be the “Bard of Main Street USA.” Throughout the six novels he has published since 1986, Richard Russo has created stories of small town American life worthy of Sherwood Anderson—the twentieth century American author of Winesburg, Ohio to whom Russo is ofen compared.
Six years after winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 novel Empire Falls, Russo returns with Bridge of Sighs, another richly observed rendering of a fictional small town, Thomaston, NY. Like other worlds of Russo’s making both as a novelist and a screenwriter (Nobody’s Fool, Empire Falls…) Thomaston comes alive with the author’s gift for enormously descriptive detail. In true Russo

November 5th, 2007
The author of Oil and Water interprets Islam for a Western audience

Amir Hussain—who describes himself as a Pakistani-born Canadian Muslim and teaches theology at a Jesuit university in Los Angeles—is intent on spreading a message: There is more that unites than divides us. Written for Christians by a Muslim, his new book, Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God, explores the differences between Christianity and Islam—but more importantly—what these two faiths have in common, paving the way for meaningful dialogue and ultimately, reconciliation.
Hussain is considered a leading specialist on Islam and is currently a Department of Theological Studies assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University. He recently spoke with BustedHalo… about

November 1st, 2007
Fr. Roderick Vonhogen a new media pioneer from the heart of the Netherlands

As Pope John Paul II lay dying, thousands of pilgrims and other well-wishers gathered outside his window, offering prayers, hoping for a miracle or at least a glimpse of the ailing Pontiff. One of those pilgrims was Fr. Roderick Vonhogen, a Dutch priest from Amersfoort in the Netherlands, who had begun immersing himself in a new form of technology called podcasting, a short-form digital radio show that is easily captured through the internet.
As Fr. Roderick saw people’s reactions during the Pope’s last days, he began to wander around, digital recorder in hand and ask questions of the younger people in St. Peter’s Square. He added some of his own commentary and then posted his podcast on the…

October 29th, 2007
DAM brings the Palestinian struggle into the world of rap

In much of the hip hop music world the constant threat of menace and violence is simply a given. Few would argue that a large part of the music’s appeal is deeply tied up with the sense of danger that certain artists evoke and that considerable energy and resources are spent to establish an artist’s “street cred” by promoting their history of poverty, violence and their prison record. Despite the fact that much of that sense of danger may very well be manufactured, it can make a big difference to the bottom line: music and ticket sales.
As an American in my mid-twenties, hip-hop has been a musical cornerstone of my adolescence. Normally, attending a hip-hop concert on a warm summer night wouldn’t…

October 26th, 2007
The monks of Myanmar move mountains through faith

To the people, they are courageous political activists. To the government, they are conniving political agitators. They have suffered unspeakable cruelty at the hands of a military regime while refraining from exhibiting similar violence. Slowly though, they are changing the tide, armed with nothing but their faith and perseverance. Many people today are quick to blame religion for being the root of all wars and bloodshed in the history of mankind. Certainly the history books offer plenty of evidence to support that observation. But the Buddhist monks of Burma, through their unprecedented protests and now victimization, show that perhaps religion and faith in general are not always the root of war, but…

October 25th, 2007
Earnest but off-key, Bella preaches to the choir

Metanoia films’ mission statement “to make films that matter and have the potential of making a meaningful difference in people’s lives” is both lofty and laudable. To the young company’s credit their first film, Bella has received some attention on the festival circuit—most notably the People’s Choice award at the Toronto film fest—and is about to be released in selected cities over the next few weeks. While Bella… will most likely matter and make a difference to some audiences, its earnest attempts to straddle different worlds has decidedly mixed results.
Much of the story follows the main characters, Nina (Tammy Blanchard, above left) and José

October 17th, 2007
Evening out life's balance sheet

One December, when my fiancée and I were visiting her friend in New Haven, I found a wallet in the stairwell of a parking garage. It was thick with credit and debit cards. There was approximately $55 in cash inside. The driver’s license gave an address in Oregon. A Yale University ID gave the woman’s name, but no address. It seemed unsafe to simply mail it to the address, so when we returned to my father’s home in Massachusetts, I found her on the Yale University directory. She responded to my email. I asked her if I could use some of the cash to cover the cost of mailing it to her, and she said sure, and I sent everything to her.
Why? “Not everyone would have done that,” my fiancée…

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