Busted Halo
Features : Politics & Culture
 
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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…

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,

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