Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
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…

July 29th, 2008
In the past decade, hundreds of thousands from around the world have descended on Northern Spain to trek hundreds of miles on the Camino de Santiago. What is it about this 1000-year-old pilgrimage route that attracts them?

The modern-day pilgrim who struggles across Spain to the shrine of the Apostle James faces one more challenge in a church office that gives out an official certificate to those who complete the journey on foot or bicycle. A clerk asks: Was the reason for the trip spiritual?
For many of those who hike or bike the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage trail all the rage during the Middle Ages and catapulting in popularity in recent years, it’s not an easy question. In walking a segment of the route in June and another chunk five years ago, I found that the reasons people had for undertaking the trip were often mixed. In more than a few cases, the spiritual aspect of the long trek grows on them unexpectedly. It did for me, too, even…

July 23rd, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

This morning I traveled to Riverview for a Catechesis (teaching) session along with some young adults from Chicago who are active with Charis Ministries in Chicago—an organization that does retreats for people in their 20s and 30s (BustedHalo Retreats is essentially an affiliate of this organization).  Riverview is the site of a Jesuit High School where the Magis… Experiment is taking place. The Jesuits decided to gather young adults together from their various provinces and to do a type of retreat pilgrimage
the week before World Youth Day.  So my travel partners have been here in Sydney a week longer than I have.  After a brief catechesis I was able to talk with three very
impressive young

July 21st, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

I woke up this morning in my nice cozy hotel room thinking about my companions sleeping out in the dewy cold air at Randwick Racetrack and awaiting the Papal Mass amidst 150,000 young pilgrims. When I left them the place was packed and kissy-faced teens were starting to huddle together, others were breaking out footballs and hackey-sacks.  My only thought at leaving my 10 young adult female friends out there amongst the teens was simply: Better them than me.
However, revenge is often sweet indeed. Upon awaking a bit later than I had planned I tried to take a taxi over to the racetrack and was snubbed by all the cabbies.  No cars allowed anywhere near the racetrack.  So I took a subway to the Central Train Station and…

July 20th, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

CNS Photo
This morning the U.S. Bishops celebrated mass outdoors for American Youth at The Domain—a first at World Youth Day. It was a vibrant mass with superb music and great preaching by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George, who is also the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since I’m traveling with Chicagoians I got to meet the Cardinal after mass and gave him a copy of my book, Googling God. He was a very gracious man and spent a good deal of time with the folks from his Archdiocese and engaged almost all of us in conversation. Considering that he’s still recovering from cancer and that his legs aren’t strong to begin with (he had polio as a child)…

July 19th, 2008
Multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

An on the spot report to start:

A consistent theme I’m finding among young adults here—and one that’s also been heralded by many members of the clergy here at World Youth Day—is the struggle of being embarrassed of being Catholic.  In secular society, religion is often a taboo subject, relegated to “a private matter” for most people. In other segments of the world, religion is a nuisance, at best, or a complete farce—something that is overly restrictive, or a fantasy that one tells themselves out of comfort. At World Youth Day those pressures simply disappear.
Below are interviews with some young adults who talk very openly about their struggles with being…

July 17th, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

Nearly 150,000 young people from all over the world have gathered in Sydney, Australia to meet, learn, share their faith…and to get an experience of the Pope up close and personal.
While there are plenty of scheduled events to attend, the most compelling aspect of World Youth Day is easily the opportunity to interact with so many different young adults from all over the globe. On the afternoon of the event’s opening I had the chance to interview some young women from Tonga—a group of islands in the southwest Pacific—…about the challenges of integrating their faith and Tongan culture. (Hear the interview here.)
My companions from Chicago and I ran off to the Opening Ceremonies later in the day

July 13th, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes appears on Canadian National Catholic TV Network

On Sunday, July 13th Busted Halo® Managing Editor Mike Hayes will be featured on Canada’s National Catholic TV Network, Salt and Light at 7pm and 11pm (EST). The show is called “Catholic Focus” and Mike will be interviewed for the entire program by host Pedro Guevara-Mann on How to Minister to Young Adults in the 21st Century and the findings in his book Googling God… (Busted Halo® Books).
Salt and Light TV is Canada’s first national Catholic Television Network. You can watch the show live over the internet as well by going to their website www.saltandlighttv.org and clicking on “Live Streaming” just under the logo on the upper left side.
Mike will also be covering World Youth Day

July 9th, 2008
You can’t spell love without evolve

For most of my adult life, I was what you might call, a casual evolutionist.  You know, the type of person who could handle your run-of-the-mill, cocktail-party conversation on Darwinism.  All the obvious stuff just seemed to make sense, like how giraffes with longer necks had a better shot than their shorter cousins.  Or that stronger lions killed more zebras than the weak ones.  Or how Donald Trump is still able to date fashion models because…
OK, well, perhaps Darwin’s theory had its limits.
But during my recent breakup with my girlfriend, Linda—somewhere between the “I swear this is the last 3 am phone call” and the restraining order—I had an…

June 25th, 2008
Searching for spiritual explanations for ghosts in America’s most haunted city

Young lovers hear inhuman growls when they stroll past it. Passing tourists feel tugs at their shopping bags, but when they whirl around, nothing is there. Teenage thrill-seekers take photos of it and delight in the beast-like faces that show up in empty windows.
The abandoned Gothic mansion at 432 Abercorn in Savannah, Georgia is haunted, but it’s not the city’s only ghost-ridden structure. “Up to 80% of homes and buildings in the historic district of Savannah are haunted,” says Scott Warner, a ghost tour guide for Ghost Talk Ghost Walk in Savannah.
Shannon Scott, a local paranormal investigator, says that the American Institute for Parapsychology (AIP) recently designated Savannah,…

May 29th, 2008
The Obama campaign in the South is working overtime to correct the rumor that their candidate is a Muslim

A recent telephone call illustrates the problem.
Deb Geissler of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is working the phone bank for Barack Obama headquarters in her home state, when she reaches a man who bristles at the mention of her candidate’s name.
“Obama?” he asks, sounding offended. “Isn’t he the Muslim one?”
“No, sir” answers Geissler. “He’s a Christian.”
“Well, I heard he’s Muslim.”
Faith in Barack…
 
Geissler recounts this story to me on an unseasonably cold, gloomy Friday in Aiken, South Carolina. It’s the day before the South Carolina Democratic primary, and Geissler—a middle-aged nurse with piercing blue-grey

May 22nd, 2008
Some Navajo Indians mix Christianity with the old ways

Raymond Lewis, a retired mechanic living in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, tucks away his rosary and rises from kneeling and praying in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary in his living room, “Tonight, I take peyote and maybe see the Mother Mary,” he says.
Lewis, a 67-year-old full-blooded Navajo, who preferred not to use his real name, says he’s not unlike many Native Americans who practice their Catholic faith alongside their native religion. “There’s no contradiction. Both religions speak of being kind and living in harmony with one another, the Creator and nature,” Lewis says as he straightens a picture of a Navajo goddess, hanging behind the statue of Mary.
The Peyote… Way
Lewis says

May 9th, 2008
A daughter reflects on her deeply religious mother's struggle to come out of the closet and remain Catholic

“I need to tell you something.” My mom said. “Okay.” I prepared myself for something tragic, when instead I heard, “I’m not Catholic anymore, I just thought you should know.”
My mother’s religious coming out was overshadowed by the more familiar kind of coming out that had occurred five years prior. I was seventeen years old when she announced she was a lesbian. I am as aware as I can be of how difficult coming out was for my Mom. It was something she had been grappling with for the 30 years of my parents’ marriage. But this new announcement baffled me at the time; somehow leaving Catholicism seemed much more entwined in her life long identity.
When I was six…

May 7th, 2008
Please complete our questionnaire

The controversial comments made by Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright has re ignited a debate among many Americans as to how religious leaders should approach political issues of the day when they are preaching to their congregations. The pulpit has historically been a place where these sorts of topics are discussed—often sparking controversy.
BustedHalo® is interested in compiling answers to the following questions from as broad a cross section as possible of preachers (priests, ministers, rabbis, imams etc) who regularly give sermons to their congregations.
Please pass this questionnaire onto as many priests, ministers, rabbis, imams etc as possible.…
Click here to submit your

April 30th, 2008
Benedict XVI in America

In the days leading up to the arrival of Pope Benedict in the United States, a number of media outlets contacted BustedHalo.com to get “our take” on the papal visit. During the interviews I did, I discovered a few themes developing that generally went something like: “Why isn’t Pope Benedict’s pending trip to America not a bigger deal?” or “Don’t the statistics about Catholic practice among young adults in the United States indicate that the pope is out of touch with the reality of American life?” There seemed to be some real skepticism about just how relevant Pope Benedict was and how much his trip to the United States truly mattered.
In an age where media…

April 22nd, 2008
Spirituality for the Sleep-Deprived

Lately I feel like my brain is on holiday. I find myself wandering the supermarket unable to remember exactly what I’m supposed to be shopping for, reaching the end of a newspaper article and having no idea what I’ve just read.
It has to be the sleep deprivation. A few happy, isolated incidents aside, I haven’t had more than five hours of uninterrupted shut-eye since my daughter was born six months ago. Maybe once she gets the hang of not waking me up at three in the morning I’ll get back to some good, serious thinking. For now my brain’s stuck on diaper rash remedies, dirty laundry, the absolute adorableness of little baby toes.
My previous multisyllabic lifeI used to be a lot deeper.…

April 17th, 2008
Covering Pope Benedict's visit to the United States

Yankee Pope …
Constantly Alert
“Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity – even in secular affairs

April 11th, 2008
Seekers find salvation in New Age capital of America

Yvonne Draper came to Sedona to kill herself. With a ruptured disc in her back, a hip that slid out of the socket, knees and ankles that constantly went out, Draper was in chronic pain. Also burdened by personal and financial setbacks, Draper was ready to give it up in the place voted by USA Weekend as the most beautiful in America.
“But then,” she says, “something got in the way—Sedona.” Draper said when she arrived in Sedona in 2002 she was seduced by it natural beauty: towering red monoliths, wind-chiseled canyons and breathtaking crimson vistas.
Yet, it wasn’t Sedona’s scenic charm alone that saved her, but it’s spiritual energy. “The vortexes helped…

March 30th, 2008
Controversial Catholic youth minister Justin Fatica is tough and bruised, but soft-hearted, and few dispute he has a knack for reaching troubled kids

The children who show up for Kids ALIVE in Burlington’s Old North End number between 40 and 50, and most range in age from about 8 to 16. Many live nearby, in poverty. On a grey, snowy Saturday morning in February, they trudge in from the cold, filling a small, blue-and-white room in an old building on Elmwood Avenue, and shed their coats, hats and snow boots. The younger kids are shepherded to an adjacent playroom; the rest linger and chatter until a pastor, who oversees the weekly, nondenominational outreach program, leads them in some opening music. They sing: “Jesus loves me, this I know…”
The crowd is larger than usual today, and the reason for this is a young man named Justin Fatica, who…

March 27th, 2008

A fourteen-year-old girl—
on tip-toe in the attic—
saw the huge horse-chestnut,
Westerkerk tower, and the random
flight of gulls. “Our tree
is in full blossom . . . even
more beautiful than last year,”
she wrote, on May 13th,
1944.
A nightingale once built
her nest beside the house
of a poet. He was ill.
He sat beneath a plum
one day, and when he returned,
his hands were filled with the scraps
of stanzas. Here is the plum:
I know I shouldn’t, but
I pluck one leaf, I crush it,
place it beneath my tongue,
releasing its bitter mint.
Praise to the angel’s wordless
gaze—her angled cut,
the balm of moss—who coaxes
the root, who stakes the shoot
of the chestnut and the plum.…

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