Busted Halo
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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…

October 16th, 2007
Speaking with the author of American Jesus about his new book Religious Literacy

In the past decade Stephen Prothero, Chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University, has emerged as a national expert and resource on religious education and literacy in the United States. His 2003 book, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, also received widespread acclaim and led to appearances on CNN, NBC, FOX, PBS, “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and Oprah Winfrey. He has commented on religion on dozens of National Public Radio programs and is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal.
Prothero’s latest book, Religious Literacy: What Americans Need to Know…, has received high praise for its unbiased critique of American’s low religious IQ.

October 15th, 2007
The Challenges of Long-Distance Relationships

A few months ago I received a letter from Jeff Klein, a 32-year-old BustedHalo reader. He’d recently begun dating someone who lived seven hours away. Was it feasible to have a relationship? They both led busy, professional lives and had active social lives in their respective cities. What was my advice, Jeff asked. Was a long-distance relationship a good idea?
A long-distance relationship (LDR) is one in which partners reside in separate geographic locations for some reason (work, school, etc.) and reunite (each weekend, each month, a few times a year) for time together. According to academic research on LDRs—yes, academics study long-distance relationships!—voluntary LDRs are on…

October 11th, 2007
Sean Penn's Into the Wild stuns and disappoints

How much of your life do you owe to the ones who love you? What are your obligations to the imperfect people who raise and care for you, as you set out to forge an individual sense of self?
In 1995, the author John Krakauer (Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven) wrote Into the Wild…, the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young Emory graduate from an affluent Washington DC suburb. Inspired by Tolstoy, Thoreau and Jack London, McCandless gave all his savings to Oxfam, drove to Arizona, left his car, and wandered the western U.S. for two years in an austere search for authenticity and spiritual wisdom. He communed with graying flower-children in California, kayaked through Colorado River rapids, and worked a

October 10th, 2007
The Academy Award nominee talks about his newest film Lars and the Real Girl

For the sake of argument, I think it’s safe to assume that terms like “anatomically correct sex doll” and “sweet and tenderhearted” have rarely, if ever, appeared in the same sentence —at least not with a straight face (trust me, I’ve googled it). And yet somehow screenwriter Nancy Oliver has taken what on its surface sounds like a strange joke and fashioned it into a strangely compelling story.
With the help of Ryan Gosling in the title role and director Craig Gillespie, Oliver’s Lars and the Real Girl… for the most part manages to fuse the profoundly personal and the perversely plastic into a believably warm, human and—I kid you not—innocent

October 8th, 2007
The new documentary for the Bible tells me so re-examines the scriptural prohibition toward homosexuality

What do Christianity and Judaism say about gays and lesbians? Even the most nominal believer is familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the chapter in Leviticus forbidding same sex intercourse. But scriptural scholarship actually presents a much more nuanced understanding of those famous Hebrew Testament passages than most followers know and one at odds with what is taught from most pulpits. For example, several hundred years of religious scholarship interprets the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as inhospitality, not homosexuality and the famous “Man shall not lie with man as with woman” verse as an insistence on procreation to build the Israelites society, not a comment on gay relationships,…

September 27th, 2007
The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s

In many ways, the 18-to-34-year-old crowd is a sought-after demographic. Advertisers continually try to lure young fashionistas, techies and foodies with their cutting-edge wares. Television executives craft sitcoms and reality shows hoping to capture the interest of this population. The Catholic Church, too, seeks their energy, enthusiasm and talents.
But appealing to these young adults in way that leads to lifelong commitment presents a challenge. How can an institution with a 2,000 year history, that’s not typically known for its innovation or it speed, attract and engage young adults, who prize the immediacy of text messaging and Google searches, change careers every two to three years,…

September 25th, 2007
Mother Teresa's life in full

Saints are most commonly seen in two dimensions, as they appear in devotional artwork. Frozen in stained glass or canvas, they serenely eye the heavens as their hands bless and pray, or register the sweet pain of martyrdom. The figures’ piety, untroubled by human temptations, lends them a sort of beatific flatness. They frequently look like caricatures, not real people of flesh and blood.
Consider the recent case of Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. While her Missionaries of Charity served among the world’s desperately poor, Teresa’s careworn smile became an icon of sanctity for the television age. As the praise mounted, she took great pains to emphasize…

September 20th, 2007
The young director of the Leadership Roundtable makes the connection between faith and best practices

It is a tragedy that appears to have no end. Recent announcements of enormous clergy abuse settlements in Los Angeles ($660 million) and San Diego ($198 million) underscore the sense that—more than five years into it—the full ramifications of the sex abuse scandal in the United States have yet to be fully understood. Add to that the corruption trial involving former diocesan officials in Cleveland and it would seem that Catholics in the United States have every reason to walk out in despair. And yet—for reasons also not yet fully understood—despite this endless stream of bad news, Catholic churches in the United States aren’t showing signs of emptying.
While the ability of…

September 19th, 2007
An interview with the media visionary behind "Faces of Faith"

As both the founder of an online religion blog and a contributor to BustedHalo and other web-based religious news sites like Beliefnet, The Revealer and KillingtheBuddha… there’s one thing I’ve observed: the simplest changes in terms of design or function can often take eons to implement. In other words, like Rome, a religion website isn’t built in a day.
Or so I thought, until last week when I discovered Faces of Faith in America, a new religion news site that suddenly appeared on the web and that’s as cool and contemporary as any faith url out there. The sleek look and all the fun interactive elements aside, the site seemingly burst into existence with more than 80 top-notch video and print

September 14th, 2007
The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s

The publication of Mike Hayes’ book Googling God is an important first on a number of levels for everyone involved with BustedHalo. Not only does it mark the publication of our managing editor’s first book, it is also the debut of our new publishing imprint, BustedHalo Books, through Paulist Press. Plans are already underway to publish other titles through BustedHalo Books in the near future, including the Freshman Survival Guide and Moral Dilemmas, so stay tuned. But for now we hope you enjoy this brief excerpt from Googling God.

When Paulist Father Brett Hoover and I founded BustedHalo.com… in 2000, our mission was to minister to the “spiritual but not religious crowd” in their 20s

September 11th, 2007
See, I am making all things new

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said,
“See, I am making all things new.”
Revelation 21: 3-5a…

I met Sandy in November of 2001. She came to a memorial service that my then church, All Saints in Hoboken, NJ was holding for the families of the fifty-two Hoboken residents who never came home from work on September 11th. Sandy had a two-year-old daughter, Rhiannon, and was widowed

September 10th, 2007
My own dark night of the soul in Calcutta

A new book of the letters of Mother Teresa, edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, a Missionaries of Charity priest who is responsible for presenting her case for sainthood to the Vatican, reveals that the founder of the Missionaries of Charity suffered for years with what St. John of the Cross termed “the dark night of the soul.” The letters between Mother Teresa and various spiritual directors and confessors are compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light … (Doubleday 2007). They are vivid, heart-wrenching pleas to a God whose presence she no longer feels when she prays. Mother Teresa’s experience of spiritual dryness doesn’t mean she didn’t believe in God, said Dr. Janet Cousins,

September 6th, 2007
Talking with the author and NPR correspondent about justice in a post-9/11 America

The Lackawanna Six: Rough Justice in the Age of Terror is the deftly told story of six young men who got caught up in the quickly changing rules of America’s justice system after 9/11. I spoke last week to the author, Dina Temple-Raston, FBI correspondent for NPR and also the co-author of the recently published In Defense of Our America, co-written with Anthony Romero. She discussed her experience researching and writing her book, the differences between terrorists (or alleged terrorists) here and in Europe, why jihad is becoming a middle-class enterprise, and what we can do to get more involved in protecting civil liberties post 9/11.
BustedHalo.com: I read on your NPR bio that you wrote two books, learned…

September 6th, 2007
Review: The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in the Age of Terror

When I stopped by a Guantanamo protest outside the UN on New York’s east side last year, someone abruptly shoved a microphone and note card in my hand so I could read aloud the devastating first-person account of one of the many prisoners locked away in Guantanamo with no hope for trial or even release. Another victim of our country’s skewed system of justice post-9/11.

Such personal stories are what drew me into that protest (and the cause more generally), and are also what make The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in the Age of Terror, by Dina Temple-Raston, so compelling. As with her previous book, A Death in Texas…, in which she focused on race relations from the vantage point of a

August 27th, 2007
for my parents

Why should she want to meet the young preacher waiting in the sitting room?
Paused on the landing, she fears his voice drifting up the stairwell deep and sweet as curing tobacco—pure
Arkansas sharecropper’s son,
reminder of a past her family barely survived. She trembles…

August 24th, 2007
A conversation with the author of Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, and Death...

In his new book Sit Down and Shut Up, former Zen Buddhist priest Brad Warner breaks the teachings of Dogen Zenji down into manageable chunks of lively text, heavy with pop culture references. (This is, after all, the author of Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth About Reality). Part memoir, part primer on Buddhism, Sit Down and Shut Up… is obviously the manifestation of many hours of reflection and a lifetime of questioning.
Long before becoming a Zen monk, Warner played bass in the early-80′s Ohio punk band, Zero Defects. These two seemingly unrelated states-of-being somehow make perfect sense when Warner takes us on the journey home for his band’s big 20-year reunion show, quoting

August 22nd, 2007
Young Iraqi refugees struggle to find peace and normalcy

“Yalla shebab!” cheered the collection of 14 or so boys as I and a fellow American student danced around the room. Traditional Arabic and Near Eastern dance is often comprised of people linking pinkies to form a line which snakes around a room according to an established pattern of step, step, hop. The other American and I were falling all over ourselves, but the shouts of encouragement, “yalla shebab…” or “let’s go youth”, from the students and their teachers quenched any moments of potential embarrassment.
The students we were dancing with were Iraqi refugees who have fled to Amman, the capital of Jordan, in wake of the war in Iraq. I have been in Jordan for the last

August 21st, 2007
Why young women can't get enough of Jane

When Jane Austen penned her novels of love and courtship in the early 1800s, she wrote about a world that is utterly foreign to most of us. Unmarried couples were not allowed to call each other by their first names; women were considered hopeless old maids at thirty. What could her novels possibly have to do with the lives of self-actualized women today?
Quite a lot, apparently. In the last twelve years, Austen has undergone a massive renaissance. Five of her six novels have been adapted into feature films, while the BBC’s 1995 “Pride and Prejudice”—which shot Colin Firth to fame as Mr. Darcy—has gained legions of fans. Austen is also irresistible to contemporary novelists; some…

August 15th, 2007
Commuting with the Blessed Mother

As any commuter knows, you can tell a lot about people by what they do on the subway.
In the early hours of a weekday morning, heading to work, we are transients. We have no home but that subway car. For a few minutes, we are co-habitants: neighbors, bound by time and space and dirty plastic seats, blinking at one another as the lights flicker, the windows rattle, and the stops go hurtling by in a blizzard of white tile.
I’m taking the train earlier these days; I usually step onto the subway platform at Continental Ave. in Queens around 7:30, to get to work around 8:15. It’s easier to get a seat. But sometimes I’ll take the express, and stand, and spend a few moments struggling to stay awake. It’s…

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