Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
May 11th, 2009
It's hard to be spiritually fit when you're running on fumes

I was up late but had agreed to an early brunch with friends, so after about five hours of sleep I’m on my way to meet people I love and I am feeling decidedly unloving. In the bustle of the train, I can feel myself getting irritated by every little thing. I don’t love the world right now. Which is another way of saying I’m not in conscious contact with God.
Once, in a discussion group, a minister asked the Dalai Lama how he could be more effective spiritually; the Dalai Lama smiled and said, “Get more sleep.” (He reportedly gets eight to nine hours each night.)
Though few people go to bed early, most agree it’s a good idea. But when it comes to getting enough… sleep, it seems like our nation’s

April 22nd, 2009
Using the economic downturn to reevaluate your life's choices

Nancy’s whole career has been in pharmaceutical communications. After watching round after round of layoffs at her firm over the past two years, her ticket finally came up in February. She went from a high level, lucrative management position to unemployment overnight. Stories like this are playing out across the country by the thousands. Good skilled workers lose their jobs and find strong competition for lesser positions. Seemingly secure financial futures based on real estate and stock investments disappear overnight, leaving uncertainty and worry.
But listen to Nancy:
“Ironically, this may be one of the greatest gifts I have received in my life — not because unemployment is a gift but…

April 16th, 2009
Meeting the incorruptible saints whose bodies seem to defy decay

One evening last month, while surfing YouTube, I stumbled across a five-part slideshow on the incorrupt bodies of saints. Having once been a soul mate to television’s ghoulish Wednesday Addams, I launched “Part One,” expecting to get halfway through before my maturing tastes demanded I resume searching for the clip where Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, humiliates the geeks at the Star Wars premier.
To my surprise, the spectacle held me in thrall. In every dead face, sanctity intersected with human nature in some unique and memorable way. St. Jean-Marie Vianney’s fine features hinted at a painful sensitivity. With her mouth half open, St. Veronica Giuliani looked as though she were…

April 9th, 2009
The challenge of Good Friday

I love rocking chairs. Whenever I go on retreat, as I did last week, I hope that they have a rocking chair at the retreat house. Generally, when I am rocking away I do not have a care in the world. But during my recent retreat my soothing rocking chair experience was ruined when I began contemplating Good Friday.
Quite frankly, I hate Good Friday. It’s dreary and dark. There’s the cross and the blood and the whipping and the people calling for Jesus to die. There’s the lance through Jesus’ side and the falling on the road and the Pietà, where Jesus’ body is handed over to his mother, Mary — what torture for any mother to see her son like that!
No, Good Friday is not a comfortable…

March 30th, 2009
It isn't boring, it isn't non-Christian and you do have the time for it

ww2-meditation-insideThe promise of meditation is not the 20 minutes of refuge from an otherwise insane day, wonderful as that may be. The promise is to gradually cultivate a way of living that is less insane. I’ve noticed over and over: People struggling with anxiety over things they’re powerless to affect rarely have a daily prayer and meditation practice.

March 11th, 2009
Our inaugural What Works column tackles the toughest question some people ever face

“Am I an alcoholic?” “Am I an addict?” At some point, many of us look back on our drinking or using and question it: question whether it’s sustainable; question whether it’s getting in the way of our life; question whether we’re becoming who we want to be. This happened for me at 23. I’d made quite a mess already in ten years. Some come to these questions even younger. Whenever it happens, we become spiritual seekers. We open to deeper questions of meaning that had been obscured. I’ve met countless others over the years who have come up against this or some other crisis and found that, rather than the end, it was the beginning of their journey.
In this new column,…

March 6th, 2009
BH on NPR...SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS!

Our Fast, Pray, Give calendar is getting some big time attention! National Public Radio’s website, npr.org, asked BustdHalo’s editor-in-chief Bill McGarvey to write a commentary on alternative Lenten fasting practices. They’ve asked us our readers to visit their site and add their comments. The more comments/discussion the piece generates the greater the chance it has of being picked up for NPR radio’s All Things Considered. So click through to here and leave a comment…remember, keep it clean!…
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First it was chocolate. Then came foul language. And, finally, there was the earnest commitment to abstain from any “off-color” humor. The litany

February 26th, 2009
...and we love you for it

We asked for your ash shots and you didn’t disappoint!
We may not have the sophisticated technology necessary to determine our readership demographics as precisely as we’d like, but at least we know you love your ash. Among the pics we received — the best of which are posted here — we found big ashes, small ashes, cockeyed ashes and perfect ashes. We got first time ash recipients and people who hadn’t received ashes in decades. Thanks to all those who hauled their ashes online and sent in their pics.
And the response to our Fast Pray Give Lent Calendar has been tremendous! The first few days have broken single day traffic records for Busted Halo and people seem to be telling their friends…

February 24th, 2009
Busted Halo's Ash Wednesday Challenge

It’s an experience that any Catholic will understand. You decide that you’d like to stop by church on Ash Wednesday to get the obligatory ashes on your forehead and you get in line with everyone else who has had the same idea. While waiting, your mind begins to wander and you’re oblivious to all the people passing you by as they return from the altar. Eventually you get to be second or third in line and notice that the people just ahead of you are sporting ashes the size of billboards on their foreheads. Enormous, indeterminate blobs of soot now decorate their once spotless noggins as they return to their pews. Your heart begins to sink as you realize that you’re going to be forced to return to…

February 24th, 2009
besides giving up chocolate

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for the Easter season when Christians are called to renew their commitments to spiritual practices like Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving…. The season is intended as a time for personal conversion leading up to Easter. The belief is that our consistent participation in these practices — like exercise we do for our physical health — is a form of purification that improves our spiritual well-being by stripping away all that is unnecessary and by becoming more mindful of our ultimate dependence on God in our lives. Lent is an annual opportunity to grow in our faith, which means it’s about much more than giving up unhealthy foods

February 9th, 2009
Inside a "voudou" village in South Carolina

He should have honored their ways.
When a county health inspector threatened to press charges against the members of Oyotunji African Village in South Carolina for scarring themselves in a tribal ritual, members of the village performed an ebo, or animal sacrifice, to one of their deities, asking for help. “The following week,” says Bale Oyewole, 63, one of the founders of the village, “the health inspector died of a heart attack; since then we’ve been left alone.”
It’s Voudou
Oyewole says they don’t call it voodoo in Oyotunji; they call it orisha voudou. The word voudou comes from the West African word for religion and the word orisha… means deities or spirits. The

February 5th, 2009
What to do with a husband who "isn't anything"

I had to explain it to the priest as I stood fidgeting with my cell phone antenna. No, my fiancee isn’t Catholic or Jewish, and he wasn’t baptized. I resisted the urge to holler, “YES, I am marrying a FILTHY heathen neener neener!” The priest told me curtly that he could not perform the marriage ceremony since my betrothed hadn’t been baptized. The job of blessing our union was passed to the deacon.
Husband isn’t…anything, really, religiously speaking. He is wickedly funny, always there to lend a hand when anybody needs it, he’s sweet and compassionate and very generous. What happens when a twenty-nine-year old Southern Catholic girl with Evangelical parents…

February 2nd, 2009
The growing trend to tattoo your faith on your sleeve

Eyes of friends and strangers alike immediately fall to the arm, the shoulder, the back, or perhaps even to the unnaturally elongated earlobe – sometimes a question follows, sometimes it doesn’t.
The tattooed and the pierced have signed up for it all, deeming a stamp of meaning or originality worth the cost, the pain, the permanence and the perpetual need to cover their artwork for job interviews. As tattoo shops spring up in suburbia and as tattoos become standard fare in offices, researchers and industry professionals are finding many willing to go under the needle do so in the name of some god. In many other instances, they do so in the name of their own personal philosophy of faith.
“Anecdotally,…

January 26th, 2009
An excerpt from Anne Rice's memoir on her spiritual journey back to faith

I came out of childhood with no sense of being a particular gender, and no sense of being handicapped by being a woman because I didn’t believe I was a woman or a man.
Let me say briefly, because it’s too painful to relate in any detail, that I learned all about gender in adolescence, even as I moved against gender distinctions and refused to accept gender limitations.
Plunged into a coeducational high school at fourteen, I soon caught on that there were tremendous liabilities to being a girl. There was no such thing as gender equality. No one had yet spoken the word “feminism,” and my view of life soon involved negotiating my way through a minefield in which “good girls” could…

January 22nd, 2009
A brief, mixed-media biography of Christianity's Great Communicator

On June 28, 2007 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict XVI announced officially that a special Jubilee Year dedicated to the Apostle Paul would take place from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009, on the occasion of the bimillenium of Paul’s birth, which historians have placed between the years 7 and 10 A.D.
As the Paulist Fathers—who sponsor Busted Halo—prepare to celebrate once again the feast of the Conversion of Paul on January 25, it is worthwhile recalling who this man was and why there is a year dedicated in his honor? First, Paul is responsible for a large part of the New Testament. The letters ascribed to him are about a quarter of the whole, and if you add the 17 chapters of Acts…

January 14th, 2009
XXXChurch is not a sex site (kinda)

A family member of mine recently said, “Shellie, I’ve accepted that you are working in the sex industry.”
My thought? “It’s about time.”

When I look at my life, even I must admit that it is really sex filled. I am a teen-mom coordinator for a local Nashville nonprofit. That pretty much consists of trying to encourage 13 to 19-year-old “grown-way-too-soon” young women to use biblical insights, my advice based on experience (I myself am a sex abuse survivor with a history of promiscuity) and a little common sense when it comes to making sexual choices. I speak pretty frequently on a book that I wrote in 2004, Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love and Redemption …. (I

January 3rd, 2009
(1968 - 2008)

Emilie Lemmons, a writer and mother of two (although as she would say “not necessarily in that order”), is someone few people outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area probably know. If you read her blog, Lemmondrops, however, you had a window into the daily struggle and heart-wrenching experience of a woman who shuddered at the possibility of dying too young from cancer with two young children in tow.
Before her diagnosis, Lemmons wrote for the Catholic-based paper The Catholic Spirit, of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St Paul. The Spirit…, as it is known in Catholic media circles, is an exceptional Catholic newspaper that really values its journalistic integrity — it doesn’t just do

December 30th, 2008
(1918-2008)

I had a TV in my room from a very early age, giving me control over the cultural influences that entered my world. Using my command of the dial, the most subversive thing I watched in my atheist home might have been a sweet little show that has been loved now for generations: Davey & Goliath.
Son of a Lutheran minister, Dick Sutcliffe started his career as a journalist, but soon found himself working for the church, as assistant editor for The Lutheran magazine, then with the radio division, then television. Sutcliffe, as director of Lutheran radio and television ministry, was one of the first religious officials to realize the potential of television, starting in the late 1950s. When church leaders told him to…

December 29th, 2008
(1918-2008)

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, who died at 90 on December 12, was the scion of a legendary family (his father, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State); one of the most famous American converts to Catholicism (his conversion came after reading philosophy at Harvard and then, memorably, spying a tree in springtime bloom); and widely considered to be the “dean” of Catholic theologians in the United States, respected by both traditionalists and progressives. His Eminence, Avery Cardinal Dulles to the world, however, was to many Jesuits, “Avery,” and he took himself none too seriously, as befits a serious man.
Funny stories abound about the Jesuit, made all the more amusing for the man’s…

December 24th, 2008
A mother, a son and grieving at Christmas

I didn’t want my children to know. They were waiting for a baby to be placed in a manger. The doll, the placeholder for our Lord, symbolized all that they had learned about love during Advent.
My toddler daughter was being coddled by a little Polish girl, only a year or so older who told her, “Jesus was once a little baby just like you.”
My son was hanging out around the life-size crèche with the older boys. All of the children were staring with huge lemur-like eyes in that way unique to children on Christmas Eve.
My thoughts were more morose. While we were attending Christmas Eve children’s services, several time zones and an ocean away, my siblings were beside our grandmother’s bed…

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