Busted Halo
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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…

August 14th, 2007
Trying to find normal again

As students from all over the country begin returning to their campuses, moving into their dorms and catching up with old friends, the students at Virginia Tech have a different set of tasks. They too will be returning to their campus, but they will also be dealing with the aftermath of April 16 and struggling to find “normal” again.
For senior Bryan Schamus, a communication major with a minor in music, finding normalcy again was essential after the upheaval caused by the violence and loss of life in the final weeks of the spring semester.
Andy Sowell, an agricultural economics major will be a junior at Virginia Tech. In spite of everything they’ve been through, or maybe because of it, Andy says…

August 7th, 2007
A man from a fundamentalist family, a freethinking woman— what does the future hold?

Their son was dating a heathen. That’s what it was, in the end: a woman set to go to Hell and take their son with her by doing nothing to encourage him to come back to the fold. Worse: encouraging him in the opposite direction.
That’s what I was thinking, anyway. I thought it as the four of us greeted one another with cursory hugs in the dark of the Clemson, South Carolina Applebee’s parking lot. Thought it as his parents smiled at me and asked how work was going. Thought it as I said, “Great!”
We’d talked it over before, David and me, and would again, and it always came down to one sentence from him, complete with one unconvincing pat on the back.
“My parents like… you.” That’s

August 3rd, 2007
Memories of my brother and a Quaker girlhood

The Quaker meetinghouse I attended as a child had four rooms. The large, boxy room in the middle was for worship and held rows of padded black folding chairs as well as a small library with saddle-stitched books about peace and the importance of silence in worship. The kitchen was pale and smelled of powdered dates, and the food made there was never good. There was a side room reserved for people who needed a place to stay for a while; the door to this room was glass, and though there was a cloth curtain over it, I could sometimes see the silhouette of a person sitting on the bed. The playroom for us kids was oblong and filled with old school supplies like glass bottles of rubber cement and patterns for paper dolls. On the wall…

August 2nd, 2007
Our search for order in the darkness

A friend of mine just left her husband. She told me that she had been unhappy in the marriage for a long time but couldn’t find a way out. “I had seen a psychologist and a lawyer,” she said. “But I couldn’t act—it was too confusing, too painful. I felt overwhelmed. Then one day last week I was driving down the street and I said, ‘God, please give me a sign. Give me some sort of sign and I’ll leave.’ It was a street where I’d always wanted to live. I was driving and praying, and I looked up and saw the poster that said For Rent…. I knew what to do.”
Though I wanted to be a good, supportive friend, I have to admit that a part of me secretly recoiled at these words.

August 1st, 2007
The former New York Times reporter and author of the new book, If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, talks about politics, abortion, and what women say in private about our political leaders

Melinda Henneberger, a former reporter for The New York Times and a former contributing editor for Newsweek magazine, spent 18 months talking to 234 women in 12 states—both “red” and “blue”—about the political issues that concern them most, from national security to abortion rights. Her findings, contained in the new book If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear (Simon and Schuster, May 2007) indicate that for many American women not all political issues are created equal—and that politicians on both sides of the aisle fail to take notice at their peril.
BustedHalo.com: How did the idea for your book come to you? Was it incredulity…

July 31st, 2007
Does Springfield Get Religion?

In a recent print “interview” with USA Today, Homer Simpson explains his theology this way: “Every time I see my sweet girl Lisa, I believe in God. Every time I see Bart, I believe in the devil.”
Now, those of us who have seen the movie – contributing to a worldwide opening weekend box office of $168 million – know what he meant.
Well, sort of… The Simpsons Movie is not about …religion. Like the TV show, it is about a family and a community in which religion plays a part. But many of the spiritual elements present in the show’s past eighteen seasons are present in the movie, driving the plot and complicating the lives of the Simpsons family and the residents of Springfield.

July 30th, 2007

At the base of the Taos mountains,
a fragmented tree, victim
of a lightning strike. As I pass,
I avert my gaze as if confronted by
something intimate in the paleness
of the exposed wood. A friend’s
son who was struck by lightning
later took his life. I wonder how
much that act hinged on burdens
I knew nothing about—a complex landscape
forged from disappointment and pain—
how much was due to the lightning strike’s
trauma, the exit wound like a stigmata.
Once, I longed for a life of extraordinary
goodness—hoped to radiate faith
like a five-hour sunburn, to heal others
with a touch. Now, I’m satisfied
with wisps of grace: letting cars merge
into thick traffic in front of me,
tipping…

July 27th, 2007
The book that will make me rich and famous.

Yesterday I was stalked by Jane Austen. Every corner I turned at my local bookstore, there she was—her name emblazoned across titles in the New Fiction and New Non-Fiction sections, even over in Cooking, Food & Wine, where I bumped into The Jane Austen Cookbook. Displayed on the new book tables were Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen, edited by Anne Newgarden, and Austen Land, a novel by Shannon Hale. Fresh out in paperback were Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr. Darcy and Patrice Hannon’s Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love….
I asked the young woman at the information desk if the store’s book buyer is obsessed with a certain Regency-era female novelist.

July 26th, 2007
The former Missouri Senator (and ordained Episcopal priest) discusses how "moral values" have polarized America

When Missouri Republican John Danforth began his political career in 1968, he was already an ordained Episcopal priest. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, and re-elected in 1982 and 1988 before retiring in 1994. As priest and politician, Danforth says he is increasingly concerned about the state of American politics and its excessive polarization. His latest book, Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together examines why he believes religion has been misused as a way to drive a wedge and erode the political center. Danforth recently sat down with BustedHalo… not only to call his own party to task for pandering to the Christian Right, but also to challenge

July 25th, 2007
Why recent reports of the death of God are greatly exaggerated

Sam Harris’s The End of Faith (2004) has spawned a viral strain of books viscerally denigrating religion. Everything from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006) and Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell (2006) to Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything… (2007) argue that religious claims—and those who make them—are unreasonable and can therefore be discounted or ignored. The publication of a spate of books that share such similar points of view raises obvious questions such as “why now?” and “why are these arguments receiving such a positive reception?” I believe it is because the Gospel message of love,

July 19th, 2007
A Response to Reverend Storm

There has been considerable dismay, especially among Protestants, regarding the document issued on July 10th by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Rev. Astrid Joy Storm’s comments are very much in this vein. In one sense they are quite hopeful, reflecting the conviction that the movement towards unity will continue in spite of what she views as a setback represented by the CDF text. I think she is right about the continuation of the growth towards unity, but wrong about the meaning of the document.
Most of the hurt that Protestants have expressed about the document centers on its insistence that Protestant communities are not churches “in the proper sense.” Rev. Storm writes…

July 18th, 2007
One Paulist's journey from park ranger to priest to immigration-rights activist

Park Ranger and Pastor are not career paths that would seem to overlap much, but it was Paulist Father Gilbert Martinez’s work at the Grand Canyon that led him to the priesthood. After spending several years working as a National Park Ranger in the heart of one of the most awesome natural wonders on earth, the California native felt the call. Though he isn’t normally given to such lofty expressions of spirituality, Martinez looks back at his years of work—often alone in the quiet of the natural world—as a time when he was able to listen to God talk. His experiences in this cathedral of nature led him back to his Catholic faith and, eventually, the priesthood.
While he is still drawn to the beauty…

July 16th, 2007
An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican's recent statement will have on practical ecumenism

An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican’s recent statement will have on practical ecumenism It seemed fitting that I was scheduled to share a meal with a Roman Catholic friend Tuesday evening, just hours after the Vatican released a statement reaffirming the 2000 document Dominus Iesus,… in which Orthodox churches were deemed “wounded” and Protestant Churches, like the Episcopal Church in which I’m a priest (female, no less), are not really churches and our priests not true priests. As the document states: “Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress in the communities concerned and even among some Catholics, it is nevertheless difficult to see

July 9th, 2007
How different faith traditions help get couples ready for the days after the big day

From rings to registries and videographers to wedding planners, getting married is an estimated $161 billion industry in the U.S. But preparing for lifelong commitment often seems to fall by the wayside when couples are presented with the pressing concerns of party planning: Should the candy-coating on the dessert almonds be the same color as the dinner-menu cardstock?
This week, Hollywood takes the focus off of “bridezillas” and puts it on marriage preparation courses. In “License to Wed,” which opened Wednesday, Robin Williams plays the “Reverend Frank,” a clergyman of unspecified denomination who puts his charges through a series of tests-including an exercise…

July 3rd, 2007
Hot off the campaign trail, the Kansas senator discusses faith, evolution and running for president

CNS Photos
Senator Sam Brownback is the Senior U.S. Senator from the state of Kansas. He is a devout Catholic and also a candidate for president of the United States. His very conservative stance on life issues, his refusal to separate his religious beliefs from his politics as well as his controversial response to a question about evolution at a recent Republican debate have all contributed to a gathering momentum in his campaign. Senator Brownback spoke to Fr. Dave Dwyer on the BustedHalo show on Sirius satellite radio just after returning from a four day, twenty-seven city campaign tour in Iowa.
BustedHalo: …Twenty-seven stops in Iowa sounds like a pretty extensive trip. How did it go?

Senator Sam Brownback:

June 27th, 2007

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had
a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:
“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”
For four decades Bob Abernethy covered world events for NBC news for—including a stint in Moscow between 1989-1994 where he reported on the end of the Cold War. After leaving NBC, he created the show Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly… for PBS. Abernethy developed the program to fill what he saw as a lack of serious discussion surrounding issues of faith in the national media landscape.
For the past decade his show has helped

June 22nd, 2007
New York artists use a church as their gallery

When Michelangelo and Da Vinci were working the Catholic Church embraced contemporary art as a form of prayer. These days the institutional church is more likely to condemn contemporary art than commission it, as evidenced by the uproar over Cosimo Cavallaro’s nude chocolate crucifix during Holy Week this year.
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle in mid-town Manhattan is doing its part to rehabilitate this contentious relationship by welcoming artists into discussion on God that focuses more on mystery than dogma.
Who…
Until the end of June, St. Paul’s is hosting a group show of contemporary painting that asks artists to address the questions “Who, What, Where, When, Why is God.”…

June 20th, 2007
Christopher Hitchens' new book is unhelpful to unbelievers

One of Western civilization’s worst follies involves men in robes—women too—chanting and gesticulating like they’re trying to lure the Great Kong—only what they’re up to is even more bizarre: acting out myths bastardized from the pagans and Zoasterians and the like, all to the glory of, let’s face it, the elite. Power and wealth are what’s being worshipped— which is why all this goes on in glittering showplaces, temples to their financial prowess and power. Oh, there’s constant talk among devotees of reaching out to the young—lest the ancient lore and practices die out—and the poor, since the higher planes are not for the privileged…

June 14th, 2007
God Machine or Tech Temptation?

June 29th marks the feast day dedicated to the founders of the church of Rome: Saints Peter and Paul. The observance is an ancient one, but this year it coincides with a religious festival of a more modern sort. For the believers of this other faith, it’s the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they’ll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they’ve long lusted and defended against all nay-sayers, sight unseen.
I’m talking, of course, about the release of Apple’s iPhone. And to say that the thought of nabbing one makes my brain water would be putting it lightly.
To be sure, I’m a new convert. But as with many others, the living encounter with the Mac…

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