When I took over as editor-in-chief of Busted Halo in May 2004 we were still living in a web 1.0 world. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist and updating this site involved working with a content management system that—compared to what we use today—might as well have been designed by Fred Flintstone. So much has changed so quickly in the world of the web and social media that it’s almost as if we now exist in a different universe.
Social media isn’t the only thing that has changed in that time. The conversation about the intersection of faith and everyday life that we’ve hosted at BustedHalo.com has grown exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of seekers have come here in an effort to make sense of their own spiritual journeys. In the past year alone, we’ve experienced a 40% increase in site traffic over the previous year and a 90% increase over the past two-years. We’ve covered controversial topics ranging from the reality of immigration with Busted Borders and homosexuality and the Church to everyday issues in Moral Dilemmas and the diverse viewpoints of our La Lupe and Girls Meet God bloggers. Our content has been picked up or featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, USA Today, NPR and the Houston Chronicle and we’ve won top honors from both the Catholic Press Association and the Associated Church Press.
Busted Halo has also taken major steps toward moving past the online world and into the realm of taking action. Our spiritual seeker adventure to the Camino as well as our service trip to Peru offered opportunities to put faith into action and our soon-to-be-released Young Adult Ministry in a Box (due early 2011) promises to be a great resource for parishes and dioceses across the US and Canada who want to reach out to people in their 20s and 30s.
After six very busy and productive years, I’ve decided to move on and look for new opportunities beyond Busted Halo. I am very proud of this site’s transformation into the vibrant multi media platform that it is today. The discussion happening on Busted Halo has been unlike any other in the Catholic Church, or any other I’ve seen online. I’ve been inspired by the conversations that we’ve started, moved by the comments readers have shared, and honored by the support we’ve earned from so many during my tenure here. I am grateful to have been able to help shape this dialog, along with the support of our our small staff, many contributors and interns, and, you, our community of fans and supporters. My last official day here will be November 1 but I will remain affiliated with Busted Halo through The Freshman Survival Guide book that will be published in April 2011 by Center Street Books. (What? You haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet? Here’s how…)
Truth be told, working in church-sponsored media was never even remotely on my radar screen before coming to Busted Halo. As a longtime songwriter/musician in New York–who also did editorial work to help pay the mortgage–I saw little evidence of how my interest in culture, politics and the arts was connected to my questions of faith and religion. What originally attracted me to Busted Halo was its mission of talking to spiritual seekers. The “spiritual but not religious” people who long for meaning and believe in some form of a transcendent truth but exist outside of traditional faith communities. These were people for whom issues of dogma and doctrine took a very distant back seat to the more fundamental question about the relevance of institutional faith communities in the first place. How was their everyday experience in the world connected to their spiritual instincts? What did those spiritual instincts have to do with established religion?
It wasn’t long after I began hosting this dialogue six years ago that I realized I was also talking to myself. Where did my own sense of faith fit into a world in which the public debate over religion increasingly seemed to be polarized—to the point of absurdity—between fundamentalist creationism and evolutionary atheism? On an even more personal level, how can I remain a Catholic with some sense of integrity while the seemingly never ending sex abuse scandal continues to reveal that some members of our family of faith are so deeply troubled?
A Grown-Up God
I wish I could say I had clear and easy answers to questions like these, and countless others, but I don’t. What I do know is that not facing these spiritual challenges and doubts really isn’t an option. If we are called to be mature adults in our personal and professional relationships why does our relationship to God all too often seem to be stuck at a fifth grade level? If I’ve learned anything it’s that these questions are enormously personal and they draw us into greater levels of depth, complexity and maturity in our lives. The conversation here at Busted Halo has helped do that for me and I hope it has done the same for you on some level as well.
The reason I came here and the reason I’ve stayed for so long is that I believe that having a discussion at the intersection of culture and faith that takes both the world and religion/belief seriously is essential. I trust that Busted Halo will remain a welcoming place for seekers of all stripes. Our world and our church desperately need it.