Busted Halo
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December 13th, 2006
Ten Tips for finally Making the Holidays Happy

The catalogs and television commercials are full of smiling families greeting each other with holiday joy- gleeful reunions full of peace and goodwill. What they don’t show is the screaming match that took place in the kitchen just before the guests arrived or the eye rolling during dinner when dad launches into his favorite diatribe. They don’t have any pictures of your drunken uncle passed out on the couch or your backbiting sister-in-law picking fights. If your family is more “Dealing with Difficult People” than “It’s a Wonderful Life” read on. Here are ten tips for keeping your own sanity this holiday season, even if you’re surrounded by nuts.

THEY WON’T…

December 11th, 2006
A young journalist's reflections on a nation of contrasts and contradictions

As Cambodians visited temples and gave alms on their ancient day of the dead in September 2004, I was holding a diaperless newborn.
I had been working for a newspaper in the county’s capital Phnom Penh for nearly all of 2004, when a colleague, Kuch Naren, invited me to her hometown for a weekend. The child was thrust into my arms by its grinning mother—Naren’s cousin—almost as soon as we entered the woman’s hut.
Before moving to Phnom Penh, all I knew of Cambodia was from the film, The Killing Fields, which depicted the country’s genocide under the communist Khmer Rouge regime in the mid 1970s. This fall, a United Nations war crimes tribunal finally began investigating the…

December 7th, 2006
All I want for Christmas

I don’t really know what I want for Christmas.
Sure, I want to have my Christmas cards done by my traditional (but never-heeded) deadline of December 10th. I’d like to be able to wave my hand and find my bedroom and office— which, as always, look as if they’ve been bomb-struck—looking somewhat sane. And, of course, a bit more security in terms of my professional situation would be nice…
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
They say this time of year is blessed and special but the older we get it becomes harder to see that amidst our frenzied gift-buying, the drama, or the pain of loss or loneliness that the holidays often bring hauntingly back. These days, with…

December 4th, 2006
The Bad News About Unwed Mothers

Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old unmarried actress who plays the Virgin Mary in the new movie, The Nativity Story, is pregnant by her 19-year-old boyfriend. Last week CNN could talk about nothing else: Amazing the coincidence, the announcers said, of this woman getting pregnant when she was playing the role of the most famous unmarried mother in history. And would you believe, the commentators crooned, her boyfriend is even a carpenter, just like Joseph.
Listen. It takes a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment to rile me these days, but after two days of hearing about the “miracle” and “wondrous news” of this young actress’s pregnancy while playing the role of the Blessed Virgin;…

December 1st, 2006
The former Bush staffer discusses his book Tempting Faith and the mutually seductive (and destructive) relationship between faith and politics

By the age of thirty, David Kuo was already a seasoned veteran in the highly specialized political warfare that takes place inside the beltway. First as an assistant to Bill Bennett and then later as a policy adviser to John Ashcroft and speechwriter for Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and Bob Dole, Kuo, a committed Christian, helped to articulate the vision and values that were at the core of the Religious Right’s agenda. But his devotion to politics took its toll and by the late 90s Kuo’s life began unraveling. His marriage had ended and he had left politics.
After a detour working for a dot.com and an unsuccessful attempt to start a charity to help the poor, Kuo was contacted to write speeches for then Governor…

November 30th, 2006
It Feels What You Feel (And Not Much Else)

Near the end of The Nativity Story, the manger scene is as still and precisely framed as the crèches children play with under Christmas trees. The crib is illuminated from above by a beam of starlight so tight and focused it should be coming from a nearby klieg light, rather than the North Star. The villain Herod has shown himself to be perhaps the dumbest man alive, wondering where the Messiah is while from a hundred miles away Mary’s parents gaze knowingly on the ultra highbeam light that practically screams out “Jesus the Christ, this way” like roving spotlights advertising an ancient camel dealership. Mary and Joseph have just completed their very own quiet birthing, Scientology-style,…

November 29th, 2006
Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP goes from website to satellite

Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, Eminem and now Father Dave? Beginning on Monday December 4, Paulist Father Dave Dwyer will join Sirius satellite radio’s growing roster of on-air talent when he launches “The Busted Halo Show” on the satellite radio network’s new Catholic Channel. Dwyer, who produced and directed television for MTV and Comedy Central before entering the priesthood, has been the Publisher of BustedHalo.com for over two years and co-founded the BustedHalo podcast with Managing Editor Mike Hayes one year ago today.
The process that led to the creation of the Sirius show began back in May, when the Archdiocese of New York officially announced plans for a 24-hour Catholic…

November 28th, 2006
The Tulip & the Pope by Deborah Larsen (Vintage)

In high school my best friend, Cathy, who went to an all-girl’s Catholic school kept telling me, “The nuns say I have a calling.” We used to crack up laughing. After all, it was Cathy who swiped her father’s cans of beer from the fridge and her mother’s Kools from her pocketbook, and hung out with hoods. “No way am I going to a Catholic college,” she’d insisted, and we made plans to go away to a state school together and be roommates and have love affairs. But, to my shock, Cathy entered a convent after high school and cut herself off from me completely.
That’s why I leaned forward in my chair, gripping the book hard, as I read Deborah Larsen’s spiritual…

November 27th, 2006
Of High Priests and Universal Language

At the time, Rice’s much-anticipated second album was still in production. Ironically, last week, while spending time with high priests of a different sort, Rice’s new album, 9, was released. I got my first impressions of it while heading to a Baltimore hotel to attend the annual November meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops – which, in my world, is something akin to DisneyWorld, Xanadu, Ibiza… or whatever else you’d call “paradise.”
Almighty O
After a hiatus of four years since the debut of the almighty O–a widely acclaimed album whose beautiful, soul-rattling material felt as if it were written with the finger of God—it’s hard…

November 17th, 2006
A brief guide to understanding meal blessings this Thanksgiving

In uncertain times, we are invariably drawn to absolute truths that help us make sense of the world. One such immutable verity is the ancient Thanksgiving Law: there can be NO turkey until we say grace. But in a pluralistic society such as ours how are we to know what is the appropriate expression of thanks?
What if you were actually charged with offering grace this year? When the moment of truth arrived would you stand there frozen while the host stares impatiently at you holding a carving knife and fork ready to be given the final dispensation to go ahead slice up the bird?
Fear not. After exhaustive research, BustedHalo offers these 7 tips for how to recognize and participate in the most common Thanksgiving blessings…

November 16th, 2006
A candid conversation about the papacy with the author of The Rule of Benedict

In the wake of the midterm elections that created such a seismic shift in the American political landscape it is easy to forget that, not long ago, the entire world waited anxiously to hear the results of a very different balloting. Though the choice to make Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the next pope was only decided on by a small group of cardinals and not a popular vote, the impact of that decision has been enormous.
Following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II—one of the most significant world figures of the past 50 years—is not an enviable task. But as David Gibson’s insightful new book The Rule of Benedict makes clear, Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate will not simply be a transitional…

November 15th, 2006
Daniel Ellsberg

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?”
Daniel Ellsberg was the source of “The Pentagon Papers,” the leak that exposed the deliberate deception that several presidents had engaged in regarding America’s involvement in Vietnam. Ellsberg’s actions made him a target of Nixon’s “plumbers” whose later arrest for breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel set President Nixon’s demise…

November 14th, 2006
Making the case for my sainthood with High School English students

“You can’t be a saint,” one of my students told me, matter-of-factly.
I was a bit troubled by this, as I had just told my class at an all-girls Catholic high school that I wanted to be a saint. I asked if there were anything I could do to boost my chances.
“No,” another one said. “You have to be dead to be a saint. And you’re not dead.”
It seemed like pretty solid logic. I pointed out that a person probably had to do something in life, however, to wind up a saint in heaven. My students paused, contemplating this.
“I guess people can be saints in real life,” one of them said. “Like priests or nuns.”
“Not all nuns are saints!” another…

November 13th, 2006
Sacha Baron Cohen's hilarious new film cuts uncomfortably close to the bone

As the many diehard fans of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen had hoped, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan includes sixty minutes of the most amusing comic stylings to hit the big screen this year. Unfortunately, the movie is a half-hour longer than that delightful hour, and at both its entrance and exit stumbles badly. When departing the theater, many viewers will be asking two questions: the expected “Didn’t you think that was hilariously funny?” and the more troublesome “Didn’t you think that was impossibly offensive?” Alas, Borat is both, with the latter failing to contribute to the former in the ways likely intended…

November 9th, 2006
Catholic NO-It-Alls

I don’t often show it, but I’m a bit of a political animal.
In college, I majored in political science with a primary concentration in American politics alongside an independent study of the internal machinery of the church. For a long time, campaign season meant high-gear; I worked on races at all levels and on both sides of the aisle, ending up as a mix of strategist, spokesman or campaign manager on a smattering of local contests.
But somewhere along the way, something changed. I became frustrated with the guts of the process: the wordy statements that really said nothing, the ceaseless clawing of fund-raising and, most of all, the hollow superficiality, depraved tactics and poisonous polarization…

November 9th, 2006
Faith, doubt and the midterm elections. A conversation with the author of The Conservative Soul.

I was a Catholic in a Protestant country.
I was a gay boy in the Catholic church.
I’m now an immigrant English person who came and made his life in America.
I’m a conservative at war with the Republican party.

Ahhh…and you thought your life was complicated?
As the quote above makes clear, Andrew Sullivan resists easy categorization. Ever since rising to prominence in the early 90s as the outspoken editor of The New Republic, the author/pundit/blogger/public intellectual has been a provocative voice in the rough and tumble arena of political, cultural and religious thought.
In his essays for Time or the constant commentary he publishes on his enormously popular blog “The Daily Dish”…

November 8th, 2006
Pure Sex, Pure Love

I’ve been really busy recently. I’ve been dashing into church 10 minutes late because I had to send “just one more email.” During Mass, I’ve been thinking about work rather than paying attention to the homilies. And back home in the evenings, I haven’t been writing in my journal—my most precious form of prayer—because I’m working up until the last possible moment when I have to finally go to sleep.
With good things happening in my career and personal life, this is one of the most exciting and successful times I’ve ever experienced. Yet I feel very far away from God.
Do prayer, meditation and conversation with God fall by the wayside as we go-go-go…

October 30th, 2006
This Halloween Modern Satanists are just asking for a little understanding

Syn Holliday is a family man with three young children, a loving wife and a suburban home next door to a devout Mormon family his children regularly play with. He’s also a Satanist.
Holliday leads one of the largest satanic covens in the Los Angeles area, the Syndicate of the Five Points. Donning dark clothing and an inverted pentagram around his neck, Holliday explains in his comfortable tract-home living room, not too far from his satanic altar, that a lot of the religious parents in his conservative community even allow their children to spend the night with his children in his home. “We respect their beliefs, and they respect ours,” says Holliday. (Like most of the Modern Satanists interviewed…

October 27th, 2006
Love is in the Air

The save-the-date cards are rolling in with a frequency usually reserved for bills (this weekend, I’ll be at the third family wedding of the year). Many of my friends are excitedly hinting at engagements and the rest of them have something to show for their many nights spent out on the “scouting tour.” A priest-friend of mine in the missions just presided at his parish’s first wedding since the early 1930s and, closer to home, BustedHalo’s own Dr. Christine Whelan has hit it big in the States with her new book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.
As the saying goes, love is in the air.
But if that’s true then I must be either hermetically sealed off from it or on an oxygen tank.
Embedded…

October 26th, 2006
A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape: by Peter Feuerherd

Visit Jerusalem in Orlando! Journey into the Sinai Wilderness! Expect to be inspired! These are some of the many exclamations splashed across the Web site for The Holy Land Experience, a Florida theme park advertised as “Orlando’s most inspiring destination.” This Holy Land facsimile, dotted with such sites as “The Dead Sea Qumran Caves,” “Calvary’s Garden Tomb” and the “Jerusalem Street Market,” is the locus, literally and figuratively, for author Peter Feuerherd’s introduction to the growing public influence of two religious groups in America: Catholics and Evangelicals. “This center of evangelical kitsch next to…

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