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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
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
January 17th, 2013

Q: What is the best way to decide what faith to be if you believe in different parts of all faiths?
A. Where do you find the most truth? I think that’s the question, because as you rightly observe, there is truth in all faiths. And we’re impelled by nature and bound by moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. Once we come to know it, we’re…

January 16th, 2013

What we call “science” today was first practiced at European universities founded by the Catholic Church. Almost no serious religion rejects science. However, history is littered with rejected scientific theories once assumed to be true, and because it is often difficult to tell whether scientific progress will produce good results, some…

January 15th, 2013

Fortunately for human beings, God is able to make God’s self known to people even without use of the Bible. We probably all know stories of people today who have religious experiences without prior knowledge of the Bible. You may think here of a young child raised in a secular family who relates a profound experience of transcendence, or of a self-proclaimed…

January 14th, 2013

Prevenient grace is a grace that comes without any effort or “earning” it on the part of humans. It reflects the fact that God takes the initiative to save us through Jesus Christ, and that we don’t earn God’s grace; we can only cooperate with it. To make a connection with Mary, the dogma of her Immaculate Conception (being conceived without original sin…

January 11th, 2013

Q: Why is the church so focused on banning contraception when over-crowding and over population is greatly dwindling the earth’s resources?

A: The Church is not trying to “ban contraception” — though given some of the recently media coverage I can understand why someone might think that it is.

January 11th, 2013

The Christian churches have what we call a “closed canon,” meaning that the books contained in the Old and New Testaments — all written by the turn of the first century C.E. — are definitively known as the sum of sacred scripture. So the answer is no; no further books will be added to the Bible.
The Second Vatican Council taught that God chose certain…

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…

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