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Jeff Guhin :
20 article(s)

Jeff Guhin, a contributing editor at BustedHalo, is working on a doctoral degree at Yale University.
December 31st, 2009
1932-2009

I read John Updike’s Rabbit series when I was 22, living with nuns in the North Bronx. Perhaps needless to say, I had a lot of free time after around 8:30 every night, and I tore through all the novels I didn’t have time to read in undergrad. Of course, what I read still had to be literature, for the same reason where I worked had to be the South Bronx. My life simply had to be soul-achingly important, and what could be more important than inner city work and the world’s great books? Anything would be better than the middle-class, anti-intellectual muck I had left. Or so I thought. And then I read Rabbit….
“Rabbit” Harry Angstrom is the main character of four novels and a novella, each title

August 31st, 2009
Busted Halo examines three popular Catholic internet dating services

Jeff Whitfield shouldn’t need any help meeting women. When he talks in his calm, Kentucky drawl about his past rambunctiousness and the salvation his faith provided him, he sounds charming, self-possessed, and likable — not the kind of guy who would need an online dating service. In fact, he wouldn’t have expected it ether. Jeff’s initial impression of the people who use internet dating sites was characteristically blunt. “They’re losers,” he used to say.
The problem is, the people he kept meeting weren’t exactly winners. Jeff was tired of the bar scene but wasn’t sure where else to go, so he thought he’d give CatholicSingles.com a try. After…

December 30th, 2008
(1962-2008)

David Foster Wallace was a famous writer, which is not that common anymore. He wrote “Infinite Jest,” arguably the most important novel of the past 20 years, and certainly the one that took America’s avant-garde out of its incessant postmodern navel-gazing. He was probably more famous for his essays, which were published in magazines like The Atlantic and Harpers…. He had another novel too, and various collections of short stories and non-fiction. He studied philosophy when he was younger and those who know said he could have been one of the most important mathematical philosophers of his generation. He also sweated a lot, which is why he always wore a white bandana in interviews and at readings.

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 30th, 2008
WALL-E's a winner

Even by Hollywood standards the story idea pitched to movie executives for Pixar’s WALL-E… must have sounded hallucinogenic: “So we’ve got this robot, but it’s a really lonely robot, see, because all the humans have left Earth a complete wasteland and this poor little guy has to pick up their trash—forever! Yeah! He’ll be busy picking up their trash for like, 700 years, and he’ll only have one friend…um…a cockroach. And then let’s say he falls in love with another robot and ultimately makes the planet safe for all the humans again! Oh, oh, and people will leave the movie wanting to save the Earth.”
When word first spread about Pixar’s

July 24th, 2007
The final book in the Gospel according to Rowling

Well, the Harry Potter series is over, and Harry still has not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Sorry if I just ruined the ending, but you should know a few more things too: in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows…, the last novel in the series, Harry does not celebrate his long-delayed bar mitzvah, he never does make it to Mecca, and he gives no indication of knowing Buddha’s eight-fold path. Still, even if Harry’s not religious, he’s not exactly cutting pentagrams into goats for the Devil either. In fact, he fights someone else called the Dark Lord (his nemesis, Lord Voldemort) and their epic battle contains more Christian imagery than the previous six Potter installments

May 9th, 2007
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 epiphany. With all the extra…

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, 2005
Innocent Voices speaks volumes about the true costs of war.

While our nation’s ongoing war in Iraq is still a hotly contested issue, for many of us it remains just that, one issue among many in an overheated climate of endless rhetoric and polarizing debate on 24-hour news outlets. It is another abstraction on the crowded American landscape of ideas, desires and beliefs. People like Cindy Sheehen don’t have that same luxury however. After her serviceman son was killed in Iraq, Sheehen became an advocate for peace and gained national attention for staging a “peace camp” in Crawford, Texas at which she held vigil and demanded President Bush give her an explanation of the “noble cause” her son had died for while he vacationed for five…

October 12th, 2005
My Name Is Earl solves the world's problems in thirty minutes or less

It’s bad karma to steal a car from a one-legged woman. In fact, it’s bad karma to do most of the things Early Hickey’s done, including letting someone else go to jail for his crimes, fixing high school football games, or faking his own death to break up with a girl. Hickey, the main character of NBC’s new sitcom, My Name Is Earl, learned how important all this karma was when he won a $100,000 lottery ticket, only to lose it to the wind as a car crashed into him. His wife also left him for the illegitimate father of his child, whose black skin was always suspicious, given that both Earl and his ex-wife are white. The karma was catching up.
Bad karma has been catching up to NBC as well. For the past few seasons,…

June 8th, 2005
Where does Harry’s magic come from?

[SPOILER ALERT: While the ending of the new Harry Potter novel is not revealed in this review, certain plot points are...consider yourself warned.]
Shortly after the first Harry Potter books came out in the United States in 2000, The Onion ran a story with the memorable headline “Harry Potter Books Spark Rise in Satanism Among Children.” Included in the article was an interview with a young six-year old Potter fan who says that the books taught her “Jesus died because He was weak and stupid.”
Though The Onion is a satiric newspaper and the story was a complete fabrication, the conceit that there is something evil lurking behind Harry’s magical powers is no laughing matter among some conservative…

June 2nd, 2005
A review of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle

Hayao Miyazaki makes that rare kind of animated movie that both children and adults love. Considered one of the greatest writer-directors in Japanese cinema and one of the finest animators ever, Miyazaki is the subject of much critical buzz, not only for his Academy-Award winning Spirited Away but for the recent English language debut of his latest film, Howl’s Moving Castle.
Like Brad Bird, writer and director of The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, Miyazaki refuses to simply charm or humor his audience’s parents, but he also refuses to forget that animated films are primarily directed at children. Miyazaki takes this commitment one step further than Bird, however. His imagery is remarkable…

February 1st, 2005
Not everything is black and white

Even Dave Chappelle and Jay-Z weren’t cool enough. For some reason, my attempts to fit Black History Month into my high school junior English lesson plans by drawing parallels between these contemporary black entertainers and the work of icons like Frederick Douglas and Langston Hughes just wasn’t working. It worked when I made Catcher in the Rye cool by watching the thematically similar movie, Igby Goes Down, and they really got into it when we did a feminist analysis of The Great Gatsby . Some students might have groaned at the extra work, but they also talked in class, and, I hope, learned something. Now it seemed my class had become the one the kids just had to struggle though. Of the 50 or so girls in…

January 6th, 2005
This is the year I get organized

This is going to be the year I get organized. I’m serious. My friends have told me that there’s absolutely no way I’ll keep any of my resolutions, but I’ve made it through the first week and I figured out the secret to keeping my resolutions is the resolution itself: I’ll be organized. I’ll keep all of my tasks on Microsoft Outlook and I’ll look at them throughout the day as I calmly accomplish all I am able to do.
And there will be more. It’s going to be the year I get fashion sense, buy the appropriate clothes to correspond to that fashion sense and am therefore appreciated by my (frankly) mendacious high school students for this transcendent sense of fashion, this…

December 16th, 2004
A (Mostly) Christian Defense of Holiday Trees

Since Jesus never saw a Christmas tree, I’m not sure what he’d want to call it. My hunch is that he really wouldn’t care. But, lately it’s become painfully obvious that some people do seem to care…a lot. Conservative groups are upset that the White House sent out cards for the “Holiday Season” rather than for Christmas. House Speaker Dennis Hastert referred to the “Holiday Tree” on the Capital lawn as a Christmas tree. The logger who cut down the “Holiday Tree” in Boston Common hates the name so much, he’d rather the tree be destroyed, and John Gibson, a Fox News anchor, wrote a book titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to…

October 2nd, 2004
There is no W in Faith

I am neither God nor George W. Bush. As a result, I’m really not in a position to talk about the President’s soul, though I do believe I can talk about his faith, mostly because he talks about it all the time. Other people are talking about it too—or, more specifically, they’re talking about the role faith plays in his life and making a good case that the President’s approach to his faith provides one of the most stark contrasts in this year’s election.
Bush’s total certainty—his resolution, as he likes to call it—has been all the buzz among the blue-state, secular media lately. Like me, they’re horrified that Bush links his desire to kick the crap out of other countries…

August 2nd, 2004
Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping are taking on the forces of consumerism, one Starbucks at a time

On a muggy July evening just after work, people in the World Trade Center PATH train station hustle by on their Tuesday commute home, talking into their cell phones as they march resolutely to their destinations. Nothing about the scene appears the least bit unusual until a preppy young man walks by and loudly insists during his cell-phone conversation, “These are your rights!” About a minute later a well-coiffed middle-aged man in clerical garb passes by gesticulating wildly and proclaiming into his mobile, “Congress shall make no law?” It seems that every fifth or sixth person who passes by in the cavernous station is having the same conversation?and it’s not about dinner…

June 2nd, 2004
The thinking-person's superhero

The most fascinating disguise in this summer’s blockbuster Spiderman 2 has nothing to do with special effects or characters on the screen. Though the second installment in the franchise packs even more of a thrilling wallop than the first, beneath the gloss and spectacle of this exciting piece of entertainment beats the heart of an unexpectedly adult and emotionally complex story. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars perfecting every visual detail, it’s ironic that Spiderman 2‘s greatest achievement comes from the lowest rung in Hollywood’s bizarre ladder of success: the writers. Considering who was helming the story, however, it really shouldn’t come as a…

June 2nd, 2004
A review of Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions edited by James Martin, S.J.

To an older generation of Roman Catholics, the mention of traditional devotions like the eucharistic adoration and liturgy of the hours might elicit either chilling memories of a repressive, bygone Catholic era or perhaps a sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be. What they might not expect is that these same devotions are experiencing a renaissance of sorts among a younger generation for whom these practices are new and carry less cultural baggage.
In Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions editor James Martin, S.J. has gathered the reflections of a diverse group of authors—many of whom are in their thirties and forties—on their “favorite” devotions. The…

April 3rd, 2004
I would do anything for love (but I won't do that)

“I can definitely see you as a priest,” my friend told me.“Thanks,” I said. This was a helpful insight, since I’d like to be a priest. “But the thing is,” he said, “I just can’t see you being celibate.”This was a less helpful insight since, as I understand it, Catholic priests tend to be celibate.
I actually would have agreed with my friend a year ago. If you would have asked me why I wanted to be a priest, I could have told you about how I wanted to serve others or how I felt preaching was a great way to use my talents. I could even talk about my deep passion for the Eucharist and the desire to share it with those around me. I’ve thought about being a priest…

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