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José Martinez :
14 article(s)

José Martinez is a writer who works primarily for Southern California Public Radio, reporting on the South Los Angeles beat and focusing on issues of health and quality of life. He's a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and has a degree in theological studies. From the way he writes, it's clear he thinks he's funny. There are few things he loves more than California burritos, the way his dogs run into walls, and road trips. He'd like it if you tweet him.
June 19th, 2012

I’m a guy who needs breaks.
Take this article, for instance. Before typing this sentence, I checked Facebook, Twitter, Google News, and strolled by Time magazine’s website, which I haven’t done in ages. Then, on a whim, I decided to try and make iced coffee out of regular drip coffee, which, after tasting it, made me really appreciate places that do that professionally. Then I thought about making a Pinterest account, decided against it, and paid some bills instead — which of course required my downloading a bill-organizer iPhone app. Which required reading up on the best bill-organizer iPhone apps.
Actually, that sounds more like procrastination than break-taking.
But that’s how I operate.…

May 2nd, 2012
Reflections from a college graduate one year out

I can still remember the feeling of numbness that hit me when I hung up the phone one afternoon last September.
I’d been slated to go to Vietnam for six months with a friend of mine, and there were 12 days before we were scheduled to take off. Problem was, most of those six months were still unplanned and important things like, oh, lodging and vaccinations and visa issues were still completely up in the air. I liked the idea of living in the moment and taking each day as an adventure, but not as much as I liked the idea of avoiding malaria or getting in trouble with Vietnamese government officials.
A friend with connections in Vietnam had been planning the trip, and with 12 days left, I figured he’d dropped the ball. I decided…

December 26th, 2011

Merry Christmas, Busted Halo readers! Now that Christmas has come and gone, we can look forward to those horrible Lexus commercials wrapping up, at least for another year. I hope next year, their advertising team realizes that they don’t have a recognizable jingle, so commercials like this and this and this and this don’t work. Also, I’m really ready for newscasters to stop opening seasonal segments with “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and…” or, even worse, “Looks like Santa… stopped by a local elementary school today…” (Even though it’s nice that Santa dropped by.)
The relief you feel at being able to say “Merry

December 23rd, 2011

This is my last post before Christmas, and so first things first: I think we can all agree that Alternative Advent was hands-down the best Advent series hosted on Busted Halo in the entire year of 2011…. Also, it was the only Advent series hosted on Busted Halo in 2011. And yes, my friends and family have to deal with my saying things like that all the time. Their patience is superhuman.
It’s kind of amazing the effect that writing this blog has had on me this holiday season. When my editor told me it would be all about my efforts to live Advent intentionally, I knew that I’d have to actually live Advent intentionally if I wanted to write anything of meaning. And by that I mean that I knew I wouldn’t be able

December 19th, 2011

My family really isn’t one for setting traditions in stone. For instance, most years for Thanksgiving, my family will all get together for a traditional turkey dinner, the deliciousness of which is only soured by the fact that I still apparently haven’t earned my spot at the adults’ table. But, there was one year where my family ate Thanksgiving dinner in a Del Taco in Anaheim, California. We were on our way to Disneyland, and our schedule had been thrown off by an unexpected extra two hours of traffic. That was a very testy Thanksgiving.

The same is true for our Christmas traditions — some years my dad will put lights on our house; other years he’ll refrain and then try to get me to put them up when I complain but I’m not falling for that. Sometimes, being San Diegans who are accustomed to temperatures that never go below 63°, we’ll drive out to the mountains where it snows and have a good laugh at how priceless my younger brother’s reaction is when getting pelted by a snowball with a nice rock nestled inside. My mom is actually the only one who is completely consistent with her Christmas tradition — every year, she’ll put out all 15 of her nutcrackers and arrange them in such a way so that they stare at me, ready to strike, while I’m watching TV. (Note: In a previous Alternative Advent post, I said that my mom had 12 nutcrackers. My saying there are 15 is not a discrepancy – she bought three more since that post. Well, either she’s buying them or they’re breeding.)…

December 16th, 2011

If you keep up with Busted Halo’s Advent Calendar – and why wouldn’t you? – you might have figured out that, while today’s Microchallenge may seem simple enough, it’s actually completely not. Well played, Busted Halo. Here’s what it says:
“Write down the words ‘love,’ ‘compassion,’ ‘patience,’ ‘tolerance’ and ‘forgiveness.’ Next to each of them, write one thing you can do today for yourself or others to express those qualities.”
Here’s what happened.
Love:… Because I’m currently trying to figure out what my next step in life is, as are many recent college graduates,

December 15th, 2011

“I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

Such were the words of John the Baptist (John 1:26-27), the prophet who dedicated his life to a different kind of Advent: preparing as many people as he possibly could for the coming of the Messiah. After centuries of waiting, anticipation and prophecy, John was telling anybody who would listen that the time was nigh — Jesus, the Messiah, was very much here.

Even without that message, though, John would have in all likelihood had no trouble convincing people he was a little bit insane.

I like to think that when Jesus went out to the desert to see who exactly God had sent to stir up the crowds for his arrival, he saw John and, at least at first, kind of looked up to the sky as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” For those unfamiliar with John the Baptist, a few points: he snacked on locusts and honey, was generally unkempt and probably didn’t have the most refined preaching method. Also he wore shirts made of hair, something which made contemporary Palestinian fashionistas sneer.

But while John the Baptist’s role as the one who’d prepare people for Jesus may seem like questionable PR, he got the job done, and he did so humbly: When Jesus finally entered the public eye, John left it, not looking to capitalize on Jesus’ renown for his own interests. After all, he had hair shirts to weave and locusts to chew.

The role of a prophet is almost entirely thankless — you’re usually spreading some sort of message that requires great faith to believe in, usually in an environment where great faith is hard to come by. Oftentimes, prophets had to be convinced that she or he was the right person for the job. That was usually because he or she flat-out didn’t want to do the job. And John the Baptist, who didn’t…

December 8th, 2011

As I sat on my couch last night watching TV, every once in a while warily eyeing the I kid you not… 12 nutcrackers my mom has scattered around our entertainment center, I found myself getting mad at the TV.
I think it started to happen around the fourth time I saw one of those commercials where a husband and wife are engaged in some contrived, stunted dialogue about what she wants for Christmas, and then he breaks out a piece of jewelry and she squeals and loves him a little bit more because every kiss begins with Kay. Or maybe I saw one too many bows atop a Lexus – it’s funny because although that’s how Lexus chooses to convey the Christmas spirit, all those bows make me want to do is key those cars. Irreparably.

December 6th, 2011

It’s a little more than a week into Advent 2011 and I’ve managed to write two posts for this Alternative Advent blog. The first was about my decision to live this Advent a little more intentionally — to really focus on waiting for Jesus’ birth, instead of just looking forward to Christmas. The second was about Joseph’s model of waiting in joyful hope, and how much trust that requires. I figured the third post should update readers on how I’m doing with the whole living Advent intentionally thing. And by that, I mean my editor told me that’s what this post should be about.
I’ll be honest: I’m at a loss. I can say that I’m waiting intentionally all I want,…

December 1st, 2011

“As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” I’ll never forget the cadence and inflection of those words, mostly because I heard them week in and week out for the vast majority of my life. If I’m being honest, those were probably the only words of that entire prayer that I heard during my less mature years, since at the period of my life I spent the rest of the Our Father focused on squeezing my brother’s hand as hard as humanly possible. Don’t act like you didn’t do the same thing.
I think that phrase is a good summary of what Advent is supposed to be about: a joyful waiting period for the birth of Jesus. But hope is the key, because that’s why we’re joyful in the first place. We know…

November 28th, 2011

We live in a culture where Christmas commercials start on Oct. 29. Ours is not a culture that knows how to wait.

So when I read the email from my editor that told me that I’d be blogging about my effort to be intentional about living Advent this year, rather than just viewing it as a four-week-long obstacle to Christmas, I waited until the last minute to write my first post. I hope she thought that was as clever as I did – think of it as method writing.

Honestly, my decision to not write the first installment of this assignment immediately upon receiving that email was almost entirely intentional. (Were there also some procrastinatory tendencies at play? Maybe. You’ll never know.) I’m going to try and live this season, which doesn’t become the Christmas season until December 25. Right now, it’s November 28, and it’s Advent, and that means that I’m supposed to be preparing myself for the celebration of the anniversary of baby Jesus’ arrival into the world. And, after 21 Christmases and years of Catholic education, as well as a degree in theological studies under my belt, I realize that I still have no idea what that means…

November 18th, 2011

I’m a proud alumnus of a Jesuit school — Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. One thing the Jesuits are very good at doing is talking about themselves, especially when it comes to their founder, Ignatius of Loyola. Because of this, I think I’ve forgotten more about Ignatian spirituality in the past four years than many people will learn in their entire life. The Jesuits would be so proud.
There were a few things I latched on to, though. One of those was the Jesuits’ vow of poverty, which, from what I saw in my interactions with them, must have some awesome loopholes. Another, more important one was the deep value the Ignatian spiritual tradition places on gratitude.
While I was in college,…

October 11th, 2011

In one of the opening shots of Machine Gun Preacher,… a member of warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) kneels a mother down before her child. He hands the child a club and screams something at him in his native language. The child, terrified, flinches every time the soldier screams at him, and keeps glancing at his mother who, with a quivering lip, nods at her child, eyes brimming with tears. The child looks back at the soldier, who lifts a gun to the child’s head and barks at him again. The child slowly lifts the club over his head, and looks for one last time into the eyes of his mother. He winds up and brings the club down with all his might. The screen goes black.
Later in the movie, viewers learn this child

September 21st, 2011

As a recent college graduate, I know a thing or 12 about doubt.
There are plenty of reasons for that. I spent the last four years working toward a degree in theological studies. I don’t know if I’m looking at the wrong numbers, but statistics seem to indicate that theologians are prone to reaping spiritual and intellectual rewards far more often than they are financial gains. Which is great, but still.
I’m also weeks away from embarking on a six-month trip to Vietnam, something that was inspired by a three-week trip I took there last summer with a group from school. On paper, it’s totally the kind of thing that makes me swoon — one of my friends and I will spend six months hopping around Southeast Asia, relying…

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