Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
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…

December 22nd, 2008
What will you give away?

How should we celebrate Christmas in tough times? Maybe the way we should have been celebrating the birth of Christ all along. All religious traditions call us to be generous and care for the poor and needy.
“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
To see that saying framed and embroidered you have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life … very often and closely. Capra’s camera focuses in on the saying, which appears under the picture of Peter Bailey, as George and Uncle Billy discuss how to confront the run on the bank. George and Mary put up their honeymoon money to keep the “old, broken down” Bailey Building and Loan afloat, and out of the hands of miserly Mr. Potter,

December 12th, 2008
Before "Doubt" the Oscar winner found the spirit on stage in an "unwieldy" Jesus

With the much-anticipated release of Doubt, Philip Seymour Hoffman is once again receiving the kind of critical kudos reserved for actors who are generally tagged as the ‘best of their generation.’ His portrayal of Fr. Flynn, in John Patrick Shanley’s film version of his Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning play, has already garnered Hoffman a Golden Globe nomination. This is not the first time the Oscar-winning actor has dealt with difficult religious topics in his work however. In his new book, A Jesuit Off-Broadway, James Martin, S.J.—who served as a theological consultant to Doubt…—recounts his experiences as a consultant to the debut production in 2005 of the off-Broadway play “The

December 10th, 2008
Busted Halo speaks with the director of "Soul Searching," a new documentary about monk, writer and peace activist, Thomas Merton

Introduction and interview by Bill McGarvey
It is no surprise that a young seeker—as Morgan Atkinson was back in the mid-1970s—would be interested in the life of Thomas Merton. Merton’s journey from poet, artist and bohemian to poet, writer, artist, activist, mystic monk has all the required elements of adventure, risk and creativity that easily sets fire to the imagination of a young man looking to find his way in the world.
But, unlike so many fascinations that grip young minds for a brief time before being replaced by newer interests, Atkinson’s attraction to Merton’s life remained strong more than three decades after he first discovered the Trappist from Kentucky. After

December 10th, 2008
Forty years after his death, Thomas Merton still causes controversy

Forty years ago today, Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and perhaps the most popular American Catholic writer in history, stepped out of a bathroom shower during a visit to Bangkok. Slipping on the wet floor, he grabbed a poorly wired fan for support and was electrocuted. For many years, Merton had unsuccessfully sought permission from his superiors to travel outside his monastery in Bardstown, Kentucky. A few months after a new abbot was elected in early 1968, he assented to Merton’s request to attend an interfaith conference that December in Thailand. En route he met the Dalai Lama, who called him a “Catholic geshe…,” or spiritual master.
Merton enjoyed paradoxes, and spoke of himself, like

November 25th, 2008
Surprising Info and Prizes on EACH DAY of Advent

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The Grand Prize drawing in our Advent Surprise Calendar contest — a Sirius Sportster 5 Satellite Radio with car and home installation kits plus a free six-month subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio (a value of over $200) — will be conducted Friday night / Saturday morning at 3 a.m. EST. Enter in today’s calendar posting.
Remember, all valid entries for a daily prize received between November 30 and 3 a.m. EST December 20th will be eligible to win our random drawing for the grand prize. There is no limit to the number of times you can enter (each entry however must be accompanied by the…

November 16th, 2008
Descended from the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s, The Twelve Tribes strives to restore true Christianity

When Shuvael and Matanah Hebert sold their upscale, four-bedroom home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to join a controversial Christian commune called the The Twelve Tribes, friends and family said they were crazy. But seven years later, the middle-aged couple insists that they have no regrets, despite sharing bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a washing machine with 40 devoted members in a community home in a working-class area of Brunswick, Georgia.
“It’s about surrendering completely to God’s providence,” insists Matanah, 45, who also left behind a well-paying chemist’s job. Matanah, who doesn’t wear makeup, perfume or jewelry because God didn’t…

October 9th, 2008
A personal encounter with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen leaves a young reporter puzzled, inspired and intrigued

I recently learned of the Cause of Canonization of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (the process by which Fulton J. Sheen may become a saint). While I’m not and have never been a Catholic, nor even religious for that matter, I feel compelled to share a deeply personal story involving him that intrigues, puzzles and inspires me to this day.
An Encounter With a King
In 1975, I was an intern reporter for WROC-TV news in Rochester, New York. The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was a famous priest who wrote numerous books and hosted a television series entitled Life is Worth Living… (still seen today).
He’d also served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester earlier in his career, and was back in town to deliver a noontime

October 8th, 2008
When a beloved family pet passes away, how do we help children face the reality of death?

We found out over the phone, while on vacation. The housesitter called us to tell us that he was at the animal hospital back home with our cat, Smokey. And then he put the vet on the line. We heard about age-related kidney disease, complete renal failure. We learned that medication and intravenous fluids might help keep him alive another month—or maybe just another week.

October 6th, 2008
A Parent, A Child, A Knife—and a Command from God. What Would You Do?

A few years ago during Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar, I was in a little wooden synagogue on the Lower East Side of New York City. The rabbi, a venerable man whose voice carried throughout the temple, was extremely charismatic. For the first time in my temple-going life, I found myself listening intently to the sermon.

September 9th, 2008
Nearly 30 Years After His Murder, The Slain Archbishop’s Death Haunts Salvadoran Elections

On a hot and sticky Sunday morning, pilgrims pour into the crypt of San Salvador Cathedral to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero. Grown men and women approach the tomb on their knees, whispering, “reza por mi” (pray for me). The pious scene may strike visitors as unremarkable for a Catholic country, yet there is deeper significance here: It is an election year, and the pilgrims are predominantly leftists.

September 5th, 2008
Seeking the sacred dimensions of daily life

Faith, spirituality and religion are too often looked upon as the province of “experts” who spend all their time in places of worship. At BustedHalo.com we frequently hear from readers who desperately want to explore their spiritual questions but feel alienated from traditional faith communities. The fact of the matter is that the experience of sacredness is as unique and personal as our fingerprints, but we sometimes fail to recognize these moments as God’s way of speaking to us in our everyday lives.
“Where’s God?” is our attempt to look more imaginatively at the movement of grace in each of our lives and chronicle the countless different ways God is at work.…

August 23rd, 2008
Decades after he gave the Illinois senator his first job in community organizing, Jerry Kellman talks about Obama, his own religious conversion and both men's approaches to creating change

In the early 1980s, when Jerry Kellman interviewed a young, idealistic Ivy League graduate for a $10,000 a year job with Chicago’s Developing Communities Project (DCP) he had no way of knowing it would be a meeting that would follow him for the rest of his life. Now, nearly 25 years later, he is frequently asked to speak about Barack Obama’s tenure as a community organizer and how it shaped the candidate’s sense of himself and the world. What many people miss, however, is how both men’s sense of faith has fundamentally altered the way they see the world.
While Obama and Kellman eventually moved on from DCP—each because they felt that community organizing was not effective enough to solve…

August 12th, 2008
Amish teens flirt with modernity before deciding to embrace the church

Joseph Miller says he likes driving Italian sports cars, drinking tequila and partying all night—and, oh yeah, he’s an Amish teenager. “But that doesn’t mean I still can’t get up early to do a mean cow milking,” he jokes.
On a remote Pennsylvania farm road, Miller opens a secret compartment in his buggy, revealing the latest high-end sound system. “If my folks knew about this, they would die.” Miller flips on his stereo. Rap music thunders from six speakers. His horse winces. “When I crank this sucker up, it really screams,” he shouts over the din.
Miller, who like all the Amish quoted for this story asked that his real name not be used, says that sometimes, when an older tourist sneaks up to photograph…

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