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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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January 10th, 2013

Q. There are so many names for God, Allah, Yazad, Harvesp-Tavaan ect. why is my God or your God better than someone else’s God? Who is the true God?…
A. It’s not surprising that different cultures of the world in different historic contexts come up with different names for God. Words — names for God — are essentially just pointers to the Divine.

January 8th, 2013

Q. I got an invitation to a party but am scheduled to work until 10PM. If no customers come in by 9PM can I close up early?
A. Imagine that you are the business owner and think about your question again. Would you want to lose an hour of business just because an employee cut out early for a social engagement? Would you employ someone who is unwilling to work assigned shifts…

January 7th, 2013

No. The words to the song were written by Englishman John Newton, a slave trader, as a response to a powerful conversion experience. After a terrifying storm at sea, Newton realized that it was only by God’s grace that he would be saved; these sentiments later became the basis for the song, which was written in 1772. The Library of Congress website has a good explanation…

January 4th, 2013

The Gospel of Barnabas is an account of the life of Jesus purported to have been written by Jesus’ disciple Barnabas.The only two known manuscripts of the Gospel of Barbabus are dated to the late 16th century and were written in Spanish and Italian. Note that the four gospels included in the Christian Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were all written…

January 2nd, 2013

If by “confession” you mean acknowledgement of wrongdoing and seeking of forgiveness, other religions do have confession. In Judaism, for example, it’s called Teshuva or “repentance”, apology, return, going back to who you are meant to be. Teshuva is the gesture of returning to God, of letting go of your arrogance, your…

January 1st, 2013

The Gospel writers don’t specifically mention the presence of Jesus’ mother at the tomb. Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” were at the tomb for Jesus’ burial (Matthew 27:61), and that they both returned to the tomb later and found an angel who informed them that Jesus had risen from the dead (Matthew 28: 1-8). The “other Mary”…

December 31st, 2012

While Catholics believe that human beings are created with free will, we also believe that we grow into the capacity to make use of that free will. Traditionally, we say that around seven years of age a person reaches the “age of reason,” and can begin to make choices for him- or herself. This is why children generally must reach seven years of age before they…

December 28th, 2012

Like all of the human authors of the Bible, Paul writes from his particular cultural context of life in the first century Roman Empire. He lived in a hierarchical, patriarchal society that presumed the rightness of a woman’s subordination to a man, a child’s subordination to a parent, and a slave’s subordination to a master. In fact, there are several…

December 27th, 2012

Interfaith dialogue does not involve being untrue to one’s own convictions of faith. On the contrary, it invites the partners to join together in a common seeking of the truth. In that process, they will share their own understanding in an honest and respectful way. For Catholics, the “uniqueness” and “universality” of Christ are understood…

December 21st, 2012

The Gospel of Matthew explains that Joseph did not know in advance that Mary was destined to be the mother of the Savior. In Matthew 1:18-25, we read about how Joseph and Mary were betrothed, and Joseph discovered that she was pregnant, a discovery which would surely have been a rather rude shock. (The Jewish marriage ceremony had two parts: betrothal, which was…

December 20th, 2012

The Church teaches that the human body, a sacred gift from God, should always be treated with great respect, in life and in death. The way we treat the bodies of the dead is a sign of our hope in eternal life. For most of the Church’s history, this precluded cremation, which was understood as a pagan practice contrary to belief in the resurrection. However, this…

December 17th, 2012

For centuries, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis through Exodus) were thought to have been written by Moses. However, in the mid-1800s, a scholar named Julius Wellhausen noticed that there were four distinct writing styles among these books and that some stories were told more than once with different language, emphases, and details. For example,…

December 14th, 2012

If you think about any statue of a famous person, like a president or general in a park, you know that these statues are usually designed to celebrate the most admirable qualities of that person. You rarely see statues of George Washington looking confused or doubtful, for example; instead, most sculptors make him look confident and commanding, even though…

December 13th, 2012

Do you mean in a fatalistic sense, in which your actions are not actually chosen by you, but rather unfold like a movie playing out on a screen? That idea goes against Catholic teaching with respect to free will. The Church believes that God created human beings with the power to choose: to love or not, to do what is right or not, to follow God or not. And while our choices…

December 6th, 2012

Question: The MidEasterners believe when they die and go to heaven that for every man there will be 7 vestal virgins while the Christians believe that we will be re-united with our deceased loved ones. Someone has to be wrong. I don’t know if someone has to be right. A response please.
Consider that in the gospels Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is…

December 3rd, 2012

The first verse in the Letter attributes the writing to “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” but otherwise the letter gives us no further biographical information on the author. There are a few references in the New Testament to a “James, the brother of Jesus” (a Greek word that can be translated to “cousin”). Perhaps the author…

November 30th, 2012

Secret Santa gift exchanges can bring out the best of collegiality and the worst of office politics. Some people love any excuse for gift-giving; others can’t stand the thought of unwrapping one more tchotchke for their cubicles. While office gift exchanges can contribute to employee morale and build company culture, there are also plenty of legitimate…

November 29th, 2012

A Pope is a human being like any of us, so the fact of being the leader of the Church does not mean he is always right, i.e. the Pope says eating Cheerios is better than eating Raisin Bran for breakfast. The Pope is not “infallible” in this sense.
If you are asking if a Pope is always said to interpret scripture “infallibly,” the answer is no, because the definition…

November 26th, 2012

We don’t know when exactly Mary’s parents (St. Joachim and St. Anne) died. The Gospels don’t give us any information about them, so what we know comes from tradition and from apocryphal writings such as the Protoevangelium of James, written around A.D. 150. Even that information is limited, though, so we don’t know for certain when Mary’s parents…

November 23rd, 2012

Q: It is part of our culture to make Christmas about Santa instead of Christ’s birth and Easter about the Easter Bunny instead of Christ’s resurrection. Is it frowned upon to celebrate these other figures as well as Jesus?
In the month of December you can hardly enter any place of business without encountering a bell ringer in a Santa suit; in the spring, images…

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