Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
March 6th, 2007
An exclusive excerpt from the soon-to-be-released novel, ALL WILL BE REVEALED, by a BustedHalo contributing editor

Verena Swann sat in her carriage, peeking through the curtain at the crowd of mourners filling the avenue. Derbies, bonnets, slick black umbrellas, here and there a pale, wet face like a camellia—pointed straight at her. They were waiting for her to open the door and get out, to become theirs—waiting for a woman who loved her husband so much she would not let him go, even in death.

Leopold, her brother-in-law, peered over her shoulder. “Look at this,” he whispered. “Thousands standing in the rain, for you.”

“For him,” she corrected. It was uncomfortable hearing the thought aloud. This was Theodore’s funeral, after all. They were here to honor him, to…

February 26th, 2007
A different kind of minority

The St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School elementary girls’ basketball team was winning.
Again.
The Nashville school was almost all black, and they were playing a mostly white Catholic school. The white girls showed frowns of frustration—even anger—as did their parents in the bleachers. After the buzzer sounded, the girls started leaving the court when a couple of white girls from the losing squad called the St. Vincent team “niggers.”
The event wasn’t a bad memory from the civil rights era, Crystal Shelton, 20, is now an African American basketball player at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, recalled the incident from her elementary school days as she tried…

February 21st, 2007
A brief checklist to make sure your resolutions make sense

As a child, Lent represented a springtime of denial leading up to the chocolate-filled celebration of Easter, but as an adult I now understand a bit more why Christians have traditionally embraced the threefold Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Simply put, we are creatures of habit and Lent gives us a reason each year to look at our habits and to see which ones draw us closer to God and which ones drive us further away from Him.
Having had too many New Year’s resolutions derailed by trying to fix everything at once, I’ve developed a brief discernment process regarding Lenten resolutions that has borne fruit for me in years past. Typically, I start thinking about the whole topic in the…

February 16th, 2007
Our readers sound off on the defense of The Vagina Monologues

…Sr. Mary Eve responds…
The reader response to Sr. Mary Eve’s article on The Vagina Monologues has been nothing short of overwhelming. In one 24-hour period, more than 10,000 people read it—an all-time high for a single feature on BustedHalo.com—thanks in a part to the piece being picked up by a number of other web outlets like AndrewSullivan.com, New Oxford Review, spiritdaily and Whispers in the Loggia.
Below is a selection of letters that Sr. Mary Eve responds directly to. On subsequent pages we’ve published some of the emails we’ve received from readers.
Sr. Mary Eve responds
Virgin Birth
Among the responses generated by my article, the majority of them defended…

January 26th, 2007
Siblings Clare and Mary Byrne combine music and dance into something sacred

As the children of two academics who met while studying theology, growing up in the Byrne clan meant that religion was always about more than simply going to church on Sunday.
It still is. Now adults, Mary Byrne, a rock guitarist and Clare Byrne, a modern dancer, say Catholicism, the search for God and a sense of enacting holy rituals infuses their art. The rest of the family is similarly engaged with faith. One sister is a writer and comedian, their brother—who is also a musician—and father are starting an organic farm and intentional community in North Carolina. The oldest sister is the chair of Catholic Studies at Hofstra University.
Sense of Celebration
“We definitely grew up with a lot of…

January 23rd, 2007
Meditations for Finding Peace by Nicole Sotelo

“Your faith has made you well,” Jesus says to a woman who seeks out his healing presence. “Go in peace, and be healed…” (Mark 5:34). Many people who have suffered as a result of disease, divorce, death or other tragedies speak to faith’s capacity to heal and comfort. In her first book, Women Healing from Abuse: Meditations for Finding Peace, Nicole Sotelo highlights resources from the Christian tradition with the hope that they may provide spiritual healing to women who have suffered from different forms of abuse, whether they be economic, emotional, physical, and/or sexual.
Sotelo—who also serves as a contributing editor for BustedHalo.com— reports…

January 17th, 2007
Revisiting the faith of my father

It was a cold day in October, and I was walking down a street on New York’s Lower East Side, toward a small wooden building with a flight of steps at the front. Built in 1820 as a synagogue, it had only recently been reconsecrated and put back into use as a place of worship. At the doorway stood members of the congregation, welcoming the small stream of worshipers climbing the stairs. “Come in, welcome, join us,” they said, and I could feel my heart beating faster. I was excited but frightened. It was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement—the holiest day of the Jewish calendar—and I was about to step into a synagogue for the first time in more than fifty years.
I am 72 years old, and though I was born…

January 12th, 2007
An American Saint

“The world is all messed up, the nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around.”
As the scourges of a never-ending war continue to dominate our national debate, division trumps common ground in the public square, and our leaders play political games while the marginalized continue to suffer in society’s shadows, it would be hard to find a truer sentiment than the one above to describe the American situation today.
In reality, though, these were the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoken in Memphis the night before he died nearly 40 years ago. But sickness, confusion and trouble, weren’t all he saw.
“But I know somehow,” Dr. King went on, “that only…

January 10th, 2007
An experienced capital defender makes the case against Saddam's execution

The morning Saddam Hussein was executed, my wife warned me not to go on the internet. Of course, I soon went online, but instantly knew I should have heeded her advice. Pictures of Saddam’s execution were everywhere. The images depressed and profoundly saddened me. The emotions were no surprise, but their depth and duration were. I have wondered since that morning why I remain so troubled by the execution of a man who unquestionably was a thug, a mass murderer and a war criminal.
I have spent the past sixteen years representing people on death row and teaching students about the death penalty. My opposition to the death penalty stems, in large part, from my Catholic belief in the sanctity of human life. Of course…

January 5th, 2007
Battling for the heart of Jewish mysticism, Hollywood and the Hasidim offer different paths

One rabbi who studied it grew crazy, one died and another became so bewildered that he lost his faith. According to Jewish tradition, the study of the Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism is not only powerful but also downright dangerous.
“Woe to the person who says that the Torah shares with us plain stories and mundane matters,” says the Zohar (Radiance), the traditional text of the Kabbalah, “…. rather all the matters in the Torah are supernal matters and supernal secrets.”
For centuries the study of the Kabbalah was forbidden, reserved only for Jewish males over 40, who were well-versed in Torah, but since its recent adoption by Hollywood celebrities, there has been a battle raging…

January 3rd, 2007
Once sentenced to 20 years in prison for soliciting her husband's murder, a Chicago woman now helps former female inmates start over

Edith Hoskins knows exactly the point in her life when she turned to drugs.
From the age of eight until she was 11, she watched her stepfather beat her mother and brothers “time after time.” When she was 11, she finally confronted the man and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop the beatings. Instead of being grateful for her daughter’s defense, Hoskins’ mother responded by turning her over to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Once in the DCFS system, Hoskins bounced from family to family and at 15, she saw her mother for the last time.
“When my mom turned me over to DCFS, that was my beginning for using drugs. I started with marijuana, then went to crack…

December 23rd, 2006

Paulist Father Dave Dwyer, CSP will be the host and on-air commentator for this year’s Midnight Mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Dwyer, who is the publisher of BustedHalo.com, also hosts a daily radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio weekdays 7-9pm EST. The Mass is being broadcast by WPIX, Ch 11 in NYC, but it will also be carried by selected affiliates throughout the country.
Check your local listings.…

December 13th, 2006
Ten Tips for finally Making the Holidays Happy

The catalogs and television commercials are full of smiling families greeting each other with holiday joy- gleeful reunions full of peace and goodwill. What they don’t show is the screaming match that took place in the kitchen just before the guests arrived or the eye rolling during dinner when dad launches into his favorite diatribe. They don’t have any pictures of your drunken uncle passed out on the couch or your backbiting sister-in-law picking fights. If your family is more “Dealing with Difficult People” than “It’s a Wonderful Life” read on. Here are ten tips for keeping your own sanity this holiday season, even if you’re surrounded by nuts.

THEY WON’T…

December 11th, 2006
A young journalist's reflections on a nation of contrasts and contradictions

As Cambodians visited temples and gave alms on their ancient day of the dead in September 2004, I was holding a diaperless newborn.
I had been working for a newspaper in the county’s capital Phnom Penh for nearly all of 2004, when a colleague, Kuch Naren, invited me to her hometown for a weekend. The child was thrust into my arms by its grinning mother—Naren’s cousin—almost as soon as we entered the woman’s hut.
Before moving to Phnom Penh, all I knew of Cambodia was from the film, The Killing Fields, which depicted the country’s genocide under the communist Khmer Rouge regime in the mid 1970s. This fall, a United Nations war crimes tribunal finally began investigating the…

November 29th, 2006
Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP goes from website to satellite

Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, Eminem and now Father Dave? Beginning on Monday December 4, Paulist Father Dave Dwyer will join Sirius satellite radio’s growing roster of on-air talent when he launches “The Busted Halo Show” on the satellite radio network’s new Catholic Channel. Dwyer, who produced and directed television for MTV and Comedy Central before entering the priesthood, has been the Publisher of BustedHalo.com for over two years and co-founded the BustedHalo podcast with Managing Editor Mike Hayes one year ago today.
The process that led to the creation of the Sirius show began back in May, when the Archdiocese of New York officially announced plans for a 24-hour Catholic…

November 28th, 2006
The Tulip & the Pope by Deborah Larsen (Vintage)

In high school my best friend, Cathy, who went to an all-girl’s Catholic school kept telling me, “The nuns say I have a calling.” We used to crack up laughing. After all, it was Cathy who swiped her father’s cans of beer from the fridge and her mother’s Kools from her pocketbook, and hung out with hoods. “No way am I going to a Catholic college,” she’d insisted, and we made plans to go away to a state school together and be roommates and have love affairs. But, to my shock, Cathy entered a convent after high school and cut herself off from me completely.
That’s why I leaned forward in my chair, gripping the book hard, as I read Deborah Larsen’s spiritual…

November 17th, 2006
A brief guide to understanding meal blessings this Thanksgiving

In uncertain times, we are invariably drawn to absolute truths that help us make sense of the world. One such immutable verity is the ancient Thanksgiving Law: there can be NO turkey until we say grace. But in a pluralistic society such as ours how are we to know what is the appropriate expression of thanks?
What if you were actually charged with offering grace this year? When the moment of truth arrived would you stand there frozen while the host stares impatiently at you holding a carving knife and fork ready to be given the final dispensation to go ahead slice up the bird?
Fear not. After exhaustive research, BustedHalo offers these 7 tips for how to recognize and participate in the most common Thanksgiving blessings…

November 15th, 2006
Daniel Ellsberg

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?”
Daniel Ellsberg was the source of “The Pentagon Papers,” the leak that exposed the deliberate deception that several presidents had engaged in regarding America’s involvement in Vietnam. Ellsberg’s actions made him a target of Nixon’s “plumbers” whose later arrest for breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel set President Nixon’s demise…

November 14th, 2006
Making the case for my sainthood with High School English students

“You can’t be a saint,” one of my students told me, matter-of-factly.
I was a bit troubled by this, as I had just told my class at an all-girls Catholic high school that I wanted to be a saint. I asked if there were anything I could do to boost my chances.
“No,” another one said. “You have to be dead to be a saint. And you’re not dead.”
It seemed like pretty solid logic. I pointed out that a person probably had to do something in life, however, to wind up a saint in heaven. My students paused, contemplating this.
“I guess people can be saints in real life,” one of them said. “Like priests or nuns.”
“Not all nuns are saints!” another…

November 13th, 2006
Sacha Baron Cohen's hilarious new film cuts uncomfortably close to the bone

As the many diehard fans of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen had hoped, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan includes sixty minutes of the most amusing comic stylings to hit the big screen this year. Unfortunately, the movie is a half-hour longer than that delightful hour, and at both its entrance and exit stumbles badly. When departing the theater, many viewers will be asking two questions: the expected “Didn’t you think that was hilariously funny?” and the more troublesome “Didn’t you think that was impossibly offensive?” Alas, Borat is both, with the latter failing to contribute to the former in the ways likely intended…

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