Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
September 1st, 2007
Trying to communicate about faith with young adults? Try listening.

It was my sixth plane ride in a week, and I was tired. I was sick of the tiny, cardboard seats, the slightly antiseptic “recycled air” smell, and the snacks that boasted 6.5 pretzels per bag. Not only that, I didn’t feel very prepared for the presentation I was supposed to give in about 2 hours. As I climbed over splayed legs to get to my seat, I stole a glance at the guy in my row. He looked like he was college aged, and I silently prayed that he would just sleep and give me some time to catch up on my presentation. No such luck.

The first question came just as I sat down: “So, what do you do?”
I went for the surefire conversation stopper, at least with someone college-aged: “I work for the…

August 27th, 2007
for my parents

Why should she want to meet the young preacher waiting in the sitting room?
Paused on the landing, she fears his voice drifting up the stairwell deep and sweet as curing tobacco—pure
Arkansas sharecropper’s son,
reminder of a past her family barely survived. She trembles…

August 22nd, 2007
Young Iraqi refugees struggle to find peace and normalcy

“Yalla shebab!” cheered the collection of 14 or so boys as I and a fellow American student danced around the room. Traditional Arabic and Near Eastern dance is often comprised of people linking pinkies to form a line which snakes around a room according to an established pattern of step, step, hop. The other American and I were falling all over ourselves, but the shouts of encouragement, “yalla shebab…” or “let’s go youth”, from the students and their teachers quenched any moments of potential embarrassment.
The students we were dancing with were Iraqi refugees who have fled to Amman, the capital of Jordan, in wake of the war in Iraq. I have been in Jordan for the last

August 21st, 2007
Why young women can't get enough of Jane

When Jane Austen penned her novels of love and courtship in the early 1800s, she wrote about a world that is utterly foreign to most of us. Unmarried couples were not allowed to call each other by their first names; women were considered hopeless old maids at thirty. What could her novels possibly have to do with the lives of self-actualized women today?
Quite a lot, apparently. In the last twelve years, Austen has undergone a massive renaissance. Five of her six novels have been adapted into feature films, while the BBC’s 1995 “Pride and Prejudice”—which shot Colin Firth to fame as Mr. Darcy—has gained legions of fans. Austen is also irresistible to contemporary novelists; some…

August 14th, 2007
Trying to find normal again

As students from all over the country begin returning to their campuses, moving into their dorms and catching up with old friends, the students at Virginia Tech have a different set of tasks. They too will be returning to their campus, but they will also be dealing with the aftermath of April 16 and struggling to find “normal” again.
For senior Bryan Schamus, a communication major with a minor in music, finding normalcy again was essential after the upheaval caused by the violence and loss of life in the final weeks of the spring semester.
Andy Sowell, an agricultural economics major will be a junior at Virginia Tech. In spite of everything they’ve been through, or maybe because of it, Andy says…

August 3rd, 2007
Memories of my brother and a Quaker girlhood

The Quaker meetinghouse I attended as a child had four rooms. The large, boxy room in the middle was for worship and held rows of padded black folding chairs as well as a small library with saddle-stitched books about peace and the importance of silence in worship. The kitchen was pale and smelled of powdered dates, and the food made there was never good. There was a side room reserved for people who needed a place to stay for a while; the door to this room was glass, and though there was a cloth curtain over it, I could sometimes see the silhouette of a person sitting on the bed. The playroom for us kids was oblong and filled with old school supplies like glass bottles of rubber cement and patterns for paper dolls. On the wall…

August 2nd, 2007
Our search for order in the darkness

A friend of mine just left her husband. She told me that she had been unhappy in the marriage for a long time but couldn’t find a way out. “I had seen a psychologist and a lawyer,” she said. “But I couldn’t act—it was too confusing, too painful. I felt overwhelmed. Then one day last week I was driving down the street and I said, ‘God, please give me a sign. Give me some sort of sign and I’ll leave.’ It was a street where I’d always wanted to live. I was driving and praying, and I looked up and saw the poster that said For Rent…. I knew what to do.”
Though I wanted to be a good, supportive friend, I have to admit that a part of me secretly recoiled at these words.

July 31st, 2007
Does Springfield Get Religion?

In a recent print “interview” with USA Today, Homer Simpson explains his theology this way: “Every time I see my sweet girl Lisa, I believe in God. Every time I see Bart, I believe in the devil.”
Now, those of us who have seen the movie – contributing to a worldwide opening weekend box office of $168 million – know what he meant.
Well, sort of… The Simpsons Movie is not about …religion. Like the TV show, it is about a family and a community in which religion plays a part. But many of the spiritual elements present in the show’s past eighteen seasons are present in the movie, driving the plot and complicating the lives of the Simpsons family and the residents of Springfield.

July 30th, 2007

At the base of the Taos mountains,
a fragmented tree, victim
of a lightning strike. As I pass,
I avert my gaze as if confronted by
something intimate in the paleness
of the exposed wood. A friend’s
son who was struck by lightning
later took his life. I wonder how
much that act hinged on burdens
I knew nothing about—a complex landscape
forged from disappointment and pain—
how much was due to the lightning strike’s
trauma, the exit wound like a stigmata.
Once, I longed for a life of extraordinary
goodness—hoped to radiate faith
like a five-hour sunburn, to heal others
with a touch. Now, I’m satisfied
with wisps of grace: letting cars merge
into thick traffic in front of me,
tipping…

July 27th, 2007
The book that will make me rich and famous.

Yesterday I was stalked by Jane Austen. Every corner I turned at my local bookstore, there she was—her name emblazoned across titles in the New Fiction and New Non-Fiction sections, even over in Cooking, Food & Wine, where I bumped into The Jane Austen Cookbook. Displayed on the new book tables were Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen, edited by Anne Newgarden, and Austen Land, a novel by Shannon Hale. Fresh out in paperback were Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr. Darcy and Patrice Hannon’s Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love….
I asked the young woman at the information desk if the store’s book buyer is obsessed with a certain Regency-era female novelist.

July 19th, 2007
A Response to Reverend Storm

There has been considerable dismay, especially among Protestants, regarding the document issued on July 10th by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Rev. Astrid Joy Storm’s comments are very much in this vein. In one sense they are quite hopeful, reflecting the conviction that the movement towards unity will continue in spite of what she views as a setback represented by the CDF text. I think she is right about the continuation of the growth towards unity, but wrong about the meaning of the document.
Most of the hurt that Protestants have expressed about the document centers on its insistence that Protestant communities are not churches “in the proper sense.” Rev. Storm writes…

July 16th, 2007
An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican's recent statement will have on practical ecumenism

An Anglican Priest on what effect the Vatican’s recent statement will have on practical ecumenism It seemed fitting that I was scheduled to share a meal with a Roman Catholic friend Tuesday evening, just hours after the Vatican released a statement reaffirming the 2000 document Dominus Iesus,… in which Orthodox churches were deemed “wounded” and Protestant Churches, like the Episcopal Church in which I’m a priest (female, no less), are not really churches and our priests not true priests. As the document states: “Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress in the communities concerned and even among some Catholics, it is nevertheless difficult to see

July 11th, 2007

Our readers sound off on Dr. Christine Whelan’s latest Pure Sex, Pure Love column
Readers responded from around the world with great passion to last week’s column on the notion of whether men are inferior to women. Below is a selection of their responses.
<<Read the original article here.
My father’s a frequent complainer about the way men, particularly fathers, are portrayed in the media—one of his personal bugbears is commercials which depict the dad as clueless about how to do laundry, make food, etc. However, he recently said to me of my new boyfriend “He’s lucky to have you—and I’m sure he gets reminded of that frequently.” Dad, we’ve…

July 9th, 2007
How different faith traditions help get couples ready for the days after the big day

From rings to registries and videographers to wedding planners, getting married is an estimated $161 billion industry in the U.S. But preparing for lifelong commitment often seems to fall by the wayside when couples are presented with the pressing concerns of party planning: Should the candy-coating on the dessert almonds be the same color as the dinner-menu cardstock?
This week, Hollywood takes the focus off of “bridezillas” and puts it on marriage preparation courses. In “License to Wed,” which opened Wednesday, Robin Williams plays the “Reverend Frank,” a clergyman of unspecified denomination who puts his charges through a series of tests-including an exercise…

June 27th, 2007

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had
a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:
“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”
For four decades Bob Abernethy covered world events for NBC news for—including a stint in Moscow between 1989-1994 where he reported on the end of the Cold War. After leaving NBC, he created the show Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly… for PBS. Abernethy developed the program to fill what he saw as a lack of serious discussion surrounding issues of faith in the national media landscape.
For the past decade his show has helped

June 22nd, 2007
New York artists use a church as their gallery

When Michelangelo and Da Vinci were working the Catholic Church embraced contemporary art as a form of prayer. These days the institutional church is more likely to condemn contemporary art than commission it, as evidenced by the uproar over Cosimo Cavallaro’s nude chocolate crucifix during Holy Week this year.
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle in mid-town Manhattan is doing its part to rehabilitate this contentious relationship by welcoming artists into discussion on God that focuses more on mystery than dogma.
Who…
Until the end of June, St. Paul’s is hosting a group show of contemporary painting that asks artists to address the questions “Who, What, Where, When, Why is God.”…

June 20th, 2007
Christopher Hitchens' new book is unhelpful to unbelievers

One of Western civilization’s worst follies involves men in robes—women too—chanting and gesticulating like they’re trying to lure the Great Kong—only what they’re up to is even more bizarre: acting out myths bastardized from the pagans and Zoasterians and the like, all to the glory of, let’s face it, the elite. Power and wealth are what’s being worshipped— which is why all this goes on in glittering showplaces, temples to their financial prowess and power. Oh, there’s constant talk among devotees of reaching out to the young—lest the ancient lore and practices die out—and the poor, since the higher planes are not for the privileged…

June 14th, 2007
God Machine or Tech Temptation?

June 29th marks the feast day dedicated to the founders of the church of Rome: Saints Peter and Paul. The observance is an ancient one, but this year it coincides with a religious festival of a more modern sort. For the believers of this other faith, it’s the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they’ll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they’ve long lusted and defended against all nay-sayers, sight unseen.
I’m talking, of course, about the release of Apple’s iPhone. And to say that the thought of nabbing one makes my brain water would be putting it lightly.
To be sure, I’m a new convert. But as with many others, the living encounter with the Mac…

June 13th, 2007
A recent trip to Turkey reveals some surprises about Islam and politics

Current events in a country bridging Europe and Asia are offering an important object lesson about the Muslim world: it is not monolithic, and there are significant forces for religious pluralism and democracy within it.
The country is Turkey, at one and the same time a candidate for the European Union (EU) and the source of much of the water in the Middle East; larger in population than any EU country, and with the second largest military in NATO after the United States.
From May 7-15 I had the opportunity to travel with an interfaith group of 16 people from the fields of government, education, health care, religion, journalism and the arts to several cities within Turkey on visits to schools, mosques, cultural institutions,…

June 12th, 2007
Surviving your Catholic Wedding

Pop quiz: May a Catholic couple get married on the beach? May the bride boogie down the aisle to a modern tune?
Bemused? Things are changing fast in the wedding business.
From 1857 to 1957 American weddings would have looked fairly similar: Most couples got married with family and a few friends present, followed by a nice lunch afterward; grand weddings were reserved for the wealthy elite. But starting in the 1960s—and then really picking up steam in the 1980s—the wedding industry took on a life of its own. From rings to registries, videographers to wedding planners and welcome baskets to party favors, getting married is a $161 billion industry. Engaged couples, priests and wedding guests are struggling…

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