Busted Halo
Features : Politics & Culture
 
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January 16th, 2006
BustedHalo's conversation with the co-founder of Killing the Buddha and author of the memoir Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and their Son

By the time he was in his late twenties, Peter Manseau had already received a bachelors degree in religion, spent time in a Trappist monastery considering a vocation to be a monk, worked at the National Yiddish Book Center and started the popular website Killing the Buddha which bills itself as “a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches.” If it seems like Manseau has a terminal case of God on the brain it is understandable, it is after all the family business. He is the youngest of three children born to Rev. Bill Manseau a former priest of the Archdiocese of Boston who refused to renounce his priestly vows when he married a former nun, Mary Doherty, in the late 1960s.
In his moving memoir, Vows:…

January 12th, 2006
Critic Harold Bloom wrestles with God in Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine

Who is Jesus? Who is God? Is it possible to discuss them apart from theological abstractions, as personalities with distinctly individual ways of seeing the world? And if so, do these personalities matter to us now in contemporary America? These are the questions that Harold Bloom addresses in his provocative new book, Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine.
Bloom comes to this task with an extraordinary pedigree. A professor at Yale, he is one of the most influential literary critics of the last forty years, the author of more than twenty books and the winner of numerous prizes, including a MacArthur “genius” award. In recent years, he has taken to writing for a general audience: The Western Canon, a…

January 4th, 2006
The controversial Catholic author talks about his new book on one of the Church's oldest prayers

As a cultural historian and author, Garry Wills has spent more than three decades researching and writing on historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan (his Lincoln at Gettsyburg won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for nonfiction) but it is as a writer on religion that Wills has been making his mark of late. With books like Papal Sin (2000), St. Augustine’s Memory (2002) and Why I Am A Catholic (2002) Wills has been both an outspoken advocate for and critic of the Catholic church.
His latest book, The Rosary, is both a history of one of Catholicism’s oldest practices as well as a prayer guide. Wills debunks myths surrounding the origins of the rosary and brings to light many…

December 24th, 2005
Reflections on St. Joseph from a soon-to-be adoptive father

As Christmas Day draws closer and crèche scenes start to pop up in New York City, I inevitably begin to think about the Holy Family. But this Christmas, as my wife and I begin the process of adopting a child, I find myself drawn closer to the life of St. Joseph than ever before.
Imagine Joseph’s surprise when, in his old age, he accepts Mary as his betrothed only to find out later that she is pregnant. By law, Joseph had the right to stone Mary. So the first intended audience for the gospel must have found it quite surprising that Joseph decided to simply “divorce her quietly.”
A second surprise is that this choice causes Joseph so much angst that he can not even sleep soundly. A dream instructs…

December 15th, 2005
A Look at Intercultural Relationships

On Christmas Eve, after returning from the Catholic children’s service, my family and I will sit down to a dinner of 7 vegetarian dishes. The main course will be a very modest, but nourishing bean soup called bop, a daily staple across much of the Balkan Peninsula. This plain menu is taken from my husband’s Bulgarian Orthodox tradition. So is the centerpiece on the table, an icon of the Madonna with Child, surrounded by candles representing friends and family who are both near and, in our hearts at least, never very far away. On Christmas Day, we will partake of a turkey or goose dinner more in keeping with the feasts I grew up with. The fridge will be so full of leftovers that we probably won’t cook…

December 1st, 2005
BustedHalo discusses "America's Moral Crisis" with the former President

It seemed to be a simple enough question requiring an even simpler answer. While running for President in 1976, Jimmy Carter responded to a political supporter who—in front of some reporters—asked if he was a born again Christian. “I truthfully answered ‘Yes,’ assuming all devout Christians were born again, of the Holy Spirit” Carter writes in his new book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. “This was the first time that this religious characterization had been injected into the political arena, and there was an immediate furor, with media allegations that I claimed to be receiving messages directly from heaven…making clear to…

November 21st, 2005
BustedHalo interviews the bestselling author about her return to Catholicism and the direction her writing is taking with the publication of her new book Christ the Lord

Photos by Andrea Milo
Witches and vampires have been very good to Anne Rice. Since Interview with the Vampire was published in 1976, the New Orleans native has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and inspired legions of devoted fans with her dark, erotically charged tales. She’s become a fixture on the bestseller list and several of her twenty seven novels have been made into feature films or miniseries–a television series is also in the works for her books on the Mayfair Witches as well.
So why after decades of success has the Queen of the Undead decided to focus all of her writing on the King of Kings? That’s right, following her return to the Catholic Church in 1998–after a nearly…

November 13th, 2005
Innocent Voices speaks volumes about the true costs of war.

While our nation’s ongoing war in Iraq is still a hotly contested issue, for many of us it remains just that, one issue among many in an overheated climate of endless rhetoric and polarizing debate on 24-hour news outlets. It is another abstraction on the crowded American landscape of ideas, desires and beliefs. People like Cindy Sheehen don’t have that same luxury however. After her serviceman son was killed in Iraq, Sheehen became an advocate for peace and gained national attention for staging a “peace camp” in Crawford, Texas at which she held vigil and demanded President Bush give her an explanation of the “noble cause” her son had died for while he vacationed for five…

October 25th, 2005
Facts and fantasies about exorcism

With two major studio movies about exorcisms released in the past year (The Exorcist: The Beginning and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and the re-release of the original version of The Exorcist on DVD it’s safe to say that Hollywood seems to have a bit of a fixation with the Devil lately. The most recent offering, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, had the third highest September opening in history and has grossed 73.9 million dollars at the box office thus far. Because Emily Rose was “based on a true story” its release also inspired a flurry of television specials on the subject of possession. Why is it that this dark, mysterious and unexplainable aspect of belief, particularly of Catholicism seems to strike…

September 27th, 2005
BustedHalo talks once again with "Fr. Gerard Thomas"

This past February BustedHalo published an extended interview with Fr. Gerard Thomas, a celibate, gay priest who–using an assumed name for fear of reprisal–spoke very candidly about the presence of gay men in the priesthood, the pedophilia scandal and the rumors of a Vatican document that would bar homosexuals from becoming priests.
Recently there has been much talk in the mainstream press that the Vatican document will be released in the very near future, sparking a great deal of controversy among Catholics. On the heels of this news BustedHalo once again spoke to Fr. Thomas about the issue of gay men in the priesthood and seminaries and why he believes that the Vatican’s changes will prove…

September 23rd, 2005
A Constitutional Law professor discusses the nomination and confirmation hearings of

CNS Photo
Considering their limited number (nine), their lifetime appointments and the far-reaching effects of their decisions, the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is an infrequent and important event. Of course, like many things in Washington, the process can also be extraordinarily confusing.
In this BustedHalo interview, Father Greg Kalscheur SJ, a Jesuit priest and assistant professor at Boston College Law School helps give our readers some perspective on John Roberts’ nomination and confirmation hearings. Father Kalscheur’s primary teaching and research interests include law and religion, constitutional law, civil procedure, Catholic social thought…

September 21st, 2005
The poor serving the poor in Nicaragua

I set off on my recent mission trip to Nicaragua with every intention of spending a week in service to poor orphans and with the hope that the encounter would deepen my relatively limited, first-world perspective on poverty. My perspective was indeed startlingly altered by my time there but in a way that was completely unexpected. My wife and I had gone to help out at Hogar Belen, a home for abandoned and disabled children, and found ourselves instead assisiting the orphanage in their outreach to those even less fortunate than themselves.
An orphanage helping the poor…? I thought the orphans were the poor.
Twice a month the staff of Hogar Belen, heads to the city dump to hand out food. The orphanage itself is…

September 11th, 2005
"Pay It Forward"

Kim Statkevicus had it all. A successful, loving husband, a great house in the suburbs, a 13 month old son and another child on the way—the picture perfect American dream. But on September 11, 2001 Kim’s husband, Derek was among the many killed in the World Trade Center. As she began to mourn the loss of her husband complete strangers came rushing to her aid. “Derek died in a very public way,” she said in a recent phone interview, “so the outpouring of support for me was immense. Because I was pregnant I received so much stuff, and it just kept on coming in. While I was very grateful, I also wondered what I was going to do with [all of it], much of which I didn’t need.”

Kim (pictured…

July 22nd, 2005
Remembering Star Trek’s James “Scotty” Doohan

Before I begin I need to get something out of the way. “Hello, my
name is Dave and I’m a recovering Trekkie.” Phew! It feels so good to get that off my chest. But I still need to come clean with you, though I’ve been in recovery for quite some time I must admit that I had a “slip” when I learned of the death on July 20th of James “Scotty” Doohan, star of the original “Star Trek” series.
While many people focus on Kirk and Spock, the show’s two primary characters, Scotty was always one of my favorite Trek characters. The Starship Enterprise would have been nothing without Scottish Chief Engineer Mr. Scott, who saved the Enterprise and its crew from demise on many occasions. The pop culture lexicon…

July 9th, 2005
An American walks the streets after the bombing

London July 8, 2005For the second time in four years a “terrorist” group has attacked civilians in my city. On September 11th I watched black clouds rising from lower Manhattan as I walked to work in Brooklyn. Yesterday at 8:51 a.m., an unknown group attacked civilians in London, my home for the summer.
The police have confirmed that within 50 minutes, there were four explosions: three in the subway system and one in a bus. So far, at least 50 people have been killed and over 700 people have been injured – some so seriously that they lost limbs. But the reaction that I have seen from Londoners has been very different from what I saw in New York on September 11th.
For most of yesterday, my view of the attack…

July 8th, 2005
The well-known social activist and author of God's Politics talks with Busted Halo

In the months leading up to the 2004 presidential election, the issue of faith—particularly how George W. Bush’s Christian beliefs influence his decisions and policies—became pivotal. While many cited “moral issues” as being important with regard to who they voted for, others felt as though President Bush, the Republican Party and even some religious leaders had hijacked a narrow religious agenda based on abortion and homosexuality and positioned the president as the only choice for voters concerned about morality.
Jim Wallis was a voice of reason and balance in that divisive debate, publicly encouraging the President, as well as Republicans, Democrats and voters in general…

July 2nd, 2005
Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof takes a second crack at reducing poverty

“We don’t want your money—we want you!” You’ve seen the commercials—a quick montage of famous faces imploring viewers to help eliminate poverty forever. This marketing blitz is meant to grab our attention and focus us on a meeting that will take place in Edinburgh,
Scotland on July 7th, 2005. The leaders of the 8 richest countries in the world are gathering here to discuss trade practices, debt relief and how to halt the spread of AIDS, among other topics. Many people around the world hold out hope that at this meeting the “G8″ countries will pledge serious financial resources for an unprecedented effort toward eradicating poverty throughout the world. It is exciting,…

May 16th, 2005
The ethics of genetic engineering

In 1997, Ethan Hawke starred in a little-known movie about human genetic engineering called “GATTACA.” The title cleverly uses only the letters G, A, T, C, which stand for the four bases that make up deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA. The movie was not a huge hit, but the topic it addressed certainly struck a chord with many people. According to the website for the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com), “When Gattaca was first released, as part of a marketing campaign there were adverts for people to call up and have their children genetically engineered. Thousands of people called, wanting to have their offspring genetically engineered.”
Five years ago, a young boy named Adam…

May 11th, 2005
Little chance for dialogue with protesters at The Vagina Monologues

Some plays just shouldn’t be performed at a Catholic university. Take, for example, a recent production by Fordham University students that included appearances by demonic forces, implied sexual intercourse between unmarried persons, murderous plots, traffic in slaves, blasphemy, implied homosexual attractions, and worship of pagan deities. How dare the Jesuits who run this university allow such a thing! Think of the poor college students being subjected to this insidious propaganda! Thank God for the protesters who showed up every night to boycott performances in the name of decency!
I jest, of course, and there were, as a matter of fact, no protesters, and the play in question was William Shakespeare’s…

May 1st, 2005
CNN's Vatican analyst and National Catholic Reporter correspondent sits down with BustedHalo to talk about the death of John Paul II, the election of Pope Benedict and where the Catholic Church is headed

If you happened to be anywhere near a television set during the extensive media coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict, chances are you are familiar with John Allen Jr. Allen, who serves as a Vatican analyst for CNN and NPR in additon to his role as correspondent for National Catholic Reporter seemed omnipresent during those weeks as he
helped interpret the breaking news at the Vatican for American viewers. Just seven weeks after the installation of Pope Benedict, his new book The Rise of Benedict XVI: The inside story of how the pope was elected and where he will take the Catholic Church,… has hit the shelves. On the eve of its June 7th release, Allen, 40, stopped by BustedHalo’s

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