Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
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…

June 4th, 2007
The National Catholic Singles Conference

In just a few weeks, more than 500 Catholic singles will head to San Diego, California for a weekend of panel discussions, socializing and prayer about the vocation of singles and the search for a perfect match.
The National Catholic Singles Conference was founded in 2005 by Anastasia Northrop. There have been conferences in Denver, Chicago and now San Diego, and because of its popularity, there are plans for east, west and central U.S. conferences in coming years.
What happens at a single’s conference and why is it so popular? According to one of this year’s conference organizers, Michele Fleming, director of the Office for Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Diego, it’s an opportunity…

May 31st, 2007
Seattle's Interfaith Creation Festival connects spirituality and concern for the earth

Seattle has never been known as the epicenter of faith, religion or spirituality in the U.S., but for four days from May 31 to June 3 faith and spirituality will be at the center of the Emerald City as Seattle-based Earth Ministry will host its first annual Interfaith Creation Festival.
The festival will also mark Earth Ministry’s 15th anniversary since its founding in 1991 by Carla Pryne, an Episcopalian priest and a Presbyterian minister Jim Mulligan and his wife Ruth, who is the chair of the festival’s steering committee.
“It speaks to their commitment and vision to still be involved 15 years later,” says LeeAnne Beres, executive director of Earth Ministry. “There was a need…

May 30th, 2007
A funny thing happened in the middle of making a living

There’s an old Yiddish saying: “If you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”
As far as my own life’s concerned, these days, I’m sure, He’s in stitches.
On Saturday, May the 19th, I completed a five-year odyssey and was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Suffice it to say: this isn’t exactly what I’d planned for my life. It’s not exactly what my wife had in mind when she married me 21 years ago, either. But as John Lennon (British, not Yiddish) put it: life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

The plans I’d made included a successful career in broadcasting, a nice home, a comfortable life, a happy…

May 21st, 2007
What makes a date? What makes it great?

According to our recent BustedHalo survey, respondents said they went on their first date, on average, at age 16. But what if you’re in your college years and beyond and haven’t had a meaningful relationship experience? You’re worried that you don’t know the “rules” or that you’ll make a rookie mistake.
Often it’s the simple things that trip us up in the world of love and dating, especially for young adults who get into the dating game a bit later. Here are some basics – and no matter how old you are, or how many dates you’ve had, it never hurts to remember where things begin:
What Counts As A Date?
This seems like a simple question, but it’s one…

May 18th, 2007
A death in the family

Amid news of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death earlier this week, the coverage was predictable. Conservatives who benefited from the pioneering televangelist’s forays into politics praised his stances and lamented his departure from the stage, while liberals took it upon themselves to assume the same role of unrelenting judge that they found so abhorrent when Falwell, himself, played it.
But beyond the noise of the polarizing political reactions what is often missed is the intensely personal and human dimension to Reverend Falwell’s death; that is what I experienced.
While I normally play the role of the Vatican scribe covering the colossus of all things Catholic, I don’t often…

May 16th, 2007
Reflections from a former fundamentalist

The Rev. Jerry Falwell—founder of the Moral Majority and the leader of the religious right in the ’80s—died Tuesday after he was discovered unconscious in his office. We at BustedHalo… offer our prayers for Falwell’s family, friends, and flock. Our prayers also go out to Falwell himself.
Now that the evangelist has finally met his maker, we pray for his sake that God is an amiable old white guy with a long grey beard, and is not, say, a big purple Teletubby with a triangle above his head and a magic bag dangling from his arm. Tinky Winky as Divine Judge might have a beef with Falwell. Having outed Tink as gay, Falwell denounced the beloved children’s TV character as “damaging to

May 14th, 2007
How one 20-something turned a brief service trip into his life's mission

Each year hundreds of college students visit developing countries to volunteer on humanitarian projects, learn about another culture and foster solidarity with people whose poverty and trauma are shaped by the geopolitical actions of wealthy nations. While the lessons of the service trip continue to inform students’ actions, as time passes their intensity generally fades.
Not so Matthew Nespoli, a Villanova University alumnus and founder of Water for Waslala, a micro-development initiative that brings safe drinking water to isolated communities in the mountainous Waslala region of Nicaragua. Nespoli’s brief trip abroad in the summer of 2002 has determined the course of his life since.…

May 8th, 2007
Why Latinos are increasingly converting to Islam

As a girl in Catholic school, Khadijah Rivera dreamed of becoming a nun despite the fact she feared Jesus. She was frightened by her church’s bloodied statue of Christ nailed to the cross and was plagued with fear when receiving communion. “When I used to put the host in my mouth,” she says, “I never bit it. I let it melt because I was afraid to bite the body and blood of Christ.” Years later, as an adult, she says she has now gotten over these fears and learned to love Jesus more. The reason for her change of heart? Rivera converted to Islam.
According to Rivera, who founded PIEDAD, a Latino Muslim organization based in Tampa, Florida, with over 300 members nationwide, Latino Muslims are…

May 7th, 2007
Do you lie about what you do on a first date?

Nina, a 27-year-old anesthesiology resident in New York City, met a man at a bar recently. After some flirtatious small-talk, he asked her what she did for work. “I told him I was a health professional, and he assumed I was a nurse. It’s so smooth when I tell guys that I’m a nurse. They smile and that’s the end of it,” she said. “And when I tell them I’m doing anesthesiology, they say, ‘Why aren’t you in pediatrics? Don’t you like kids?’”
Mark, a 32-year-old investment banker, said he is hesitant to tell women he first meets about his job. “I feel like they light up with dollar-signs in their eyes. I want to know that they are interested…

April 30th, 2007
A young nun's struggle

When Sr. Luma Khudher, O.P. speaks of her life and her countrymen in Iraq, she does not discuss politics, ideologies or even Saddam Hussein.
Instead, the 30-year-old Dominican nun talks about her friends and family, and her concern that they have food, water, and electricity. But even those basic issues are trumped by her biggest worry: Are her friends and family even alive?
Living and studying in Chicago, Illinois, Sr. Luma is far from the violence that grips Iraq, but while her physical self is sheltered her mind is constantly focused on people back home. She starts each day by visiting a type of small town newspaper website to check and see if friends or family have died during the night. “I don’t want…

April 26th, 2007
Seeing Planet Earth for the first time

The ocean was placid and calm as a group of ten of us held our breath for what was about to come. Suddenly, with awe-inspiring grace and fury, the surface of the water broke and a giant great white shark rose to a height of nearly fifteen feet, completely suspended in mid-air as its teeth clamped around the neck of an arctic seal. We sat slack-jawed in amazement before some of us started shouting, “go back, let’s see it again!”
Move over “American Idol,” you too “24,” there is a new show that packs more drama, more breathtaking beauty, more moments of utter disbelief than anything else currently on television. “Planet Earth” represents the next era of television.…

April 25th, 2007
Reflections on Virginia Tech and the importance of campus ministry

Ever since the Columbine high school massacre in 1999 and the Washington, DC Beltway sniper attacks of 2002, “lockdown” is a word that’s been lifted out of the penitentiary lexicon and dropped into student handbooks across the nation. When shots are heard, go immediately into a protective lockdown mode and await further instructions from authorities.
But how do you lock down a sprawling campus? How do you make hundreds of campus buildings, replete with entrances and exits, safe from armed attackers or hidden bombs? Is there any defense against malice and, if there is, how can you tell if and when it’s coming?
Wondering Why?
It is malice, by the way, that was operative in the Beltway snipings,…

April 24th, 2007
Helping people doesn't make me feel better

Despite my apparently wholesome life, I have a deep, dark secret, one so shameful that I must shroud my name in the mists of a pseudonym. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but volunteering, and otherwise helping my fellow man, doesn’t make me feel all that good.
At any given time and across the country, pastors, advice columnists and moms are repeating an old chestnut: if you think you have problems, lend a hand to someone else. Volunteering will take you outside yourself, focus your energies, and cause a warm fuzzy glow to pierce the dark clouds of your bleak, crabby mood.
Natural High
Indeed, volunteering is recommended for victims of much more than a sour mood. A cancer support website encourages sufferers…

April 20th, 2007
The Sopranos, it's All in the "Family"

Earlier this week, the Paulist Fathers —you know, the people who run this fine website—were the beneficiaries one of the more unusual product placements in recent memory when the Paulist-founded Humanitas Prize, was showcased on The Sopranos…right before it was used to bash someone’s head in.
To quote its network’s old slogan, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” As the legendary series makes its way through its final season, its impact on pop culture is secure.
Two hours into the last call for “Bada-Bing” and Baccalas, there haven’t been any major on-screen “whackings.” At least not yet. But it still feels like we’re…

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