Busted Halo
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Renée LaReau :
30 article(s)

Renée LaReau has been a BustedHalo contributing editor since 2002. She writes from South Bend, Indiana.
January 8th, 2004
From sole to soul, a marathon spirituality

Many marathoners experience moments of grace on the run, but not all of their spiritual sensations are pain free. While 26.2 miles of pavement give plenty of opportunities for spiritual highs and physical adrenaline rushes, these moments are often punctuated by aching joints, bleeding blisters, black and blue toenails, and a long list of other possible bizarre afflictions. Three-time marathoner Mike Schmiedeler says that even though bodily awareness and spiritual highs can take the form of pain, he relishes the raw sensation. “You feel the most alive when you feel the worst,” said the 31-year-old Chicago television producer. “When I’m at mile 26 I feel like I’m so tired…

November 13th, 2003
House Hunting and the Complications of Compromise

I. Java Goddess and Garage Man
Renée: With our house-hunting completed, I can now list yet another way in which Jim and I are different.
Those comments I made during our early blissful engaged months about our similarities and compatibilities?
Whatever. I feel like tossing them out the window. Whether that particular window is block glass, facing south, or fuel efficient, I do not care.
A domestic goddess I am not—I care more about the neighborhood than the house itself. My primary requirement for any potential house was that it be within walking distance of a coffee shop, preferably locally-owned and non-chain.
Jim: I don’t drink the java, so what do I care about coffee shops? My primary requirement…

November 2nd, 2003
Peter Steinfels' - A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America

Let’s not talk about sex
Though the clergy sex abuse scandal garners its own chapter in this nearly 400-page tome, the crisis Peter Steinfels describes is not limited to priest pedophiles, hush money, or locked legal file drawers.
According to Steinfels, a larger, more encompassing Church crisis stems from a lack of energetic leadership by bishops and priests, and as a result the institutional Church in the United States teeters on the verge of irrelevance.
“Not that Catholics will suddenly flee from the Church,” writes Steinfels, “?but their faith will be come an increasingly marginal or superficial part of their identity, bearing less and less on the important choices of their…

October 18th, 2003
Good Reads from the Next Generation of Writers

I love reading books by my contemporaries. I picked up The Quality of Life Report and The Devil Wears Prada more out of curiosity about their young authors than out of interest in quality, life, or Prada.
As I plowed through these fun, well-written reads, I learned a lot about 34-year-old Meghan Daum (Quality) and 22-year-old Lauren Weisberger (Devil), since both wrote novels closely connected to a significant career-slash-life experience (Daum claims her book is only “32.9%” autobiographical).
Meet Meghan and Lauren
Meghan Daum spins a fictional tale that parallels her move from New York City to rural Nebraska in pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment. Weisberger launches her novel…

July 12th, 2003
Oscar-nominated Spellbound is letter-perfect

Renée LaReau (center, back) participated in the 1988 National Spelling Bee, where she was eliminated by the word ‘Terpsichore.’
You’re kidding, right?
So maybe watching 250 pimply, precocious adolescents spell words onstage isn’t exactly your idea of a good time?
Hey, don’t be so quick to scoff. ESPN now broadcasts the National Spelling Bee every year, and eight 1999 Bee participants are the subject of Spellbound, a new Oscar-nominated documentary co-directed by Jeffrey Blitz and Sean Welch. Spellbound made its sold-out debut in New York and Los Angeles in the spring and has opened across the country this summer to rave reviews.
An unexpected cross-section of the country…

April 27th, 2003
Some Women Need Not Apply

While my elementary school teachers told me to believe in myself, my parents warned me it was not good to be full of myself. Love thyself and trust thyself, yes, but not too much.
Be confident, yes, but not obnoxious, said mentors. Pride, or “excessive belief in one’s own abilities,” taken to an extreme, leaves no room within the human persona for the priceless virtue of humility.
The wrong pitfall?
Warnings against pride are well and good, but a qualification must be added. When discussing the pitfalls of pride and the honor in humility, it is necessary to nuance the discussion with special attention to gender. The ancient sin of pride was defined during a time in history when women’s experience…

April 2nd, 2003
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

This being my first year as a paying Sports Illustrated subscriber, I was watching my mailbox this week with a mixture of curiosity and indignance. It’s Swimsuit Issue Season, that dreary time of year between the Super Bowl and Opening Day when the bronzed, sultry airbrushed babes beckoning from warmer climates find their way into the eager hands of, uh, rabid sports fans.
I’ve seen the swimsuit issue for a number of years and the ensuing onslaught of letters that follow, some praising SI editors for “thawing the frozen tundra of winter,” and others lamenting that “this is not what we had in mind when we bought an SI subscription for our ten-year-old son.” The letter topics…

March 15th, 2003

The events of Good Friday are violent, to put it mildly. The crucifixion of Jesus and all the events leading up to it are disturbingly violent, ugly, noisy, and bloody. John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion (traditionally read at services) is filled with images of the screaming crowds, the betrayal of friends, the tearing of garments, and a controversial, heated trial. The whole day encompasses one disturbing event after another with enough violence to fill an Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
Silence amid violence
I always find it so interesting that people often commemorate the events of this disturbing, chaotic, violent day with silence. Houses of worship are never so…

March 10th, 2003
Scripture Reflections for Sundays in Lent

Readings:
Exodus 20:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
A chaotic scene
Jesus must have looked like a crazy man on his angry rampage through the Temple, a place crammed with people due to the upcoming Passover.
And he most likely created chaos. Just picture the stampeding cattle, sheep, and merchants trying to get the hell away from this angry man, with broken tables and lots of loose change underfoot. Jesus made a mess in a sacred space. He created a scene.
But it was worth it to him. There were people and merchandise in the Temple that needed to be thrown out. Buying and selling had no place in a house of worship, Jesus thought. So he stormed the temple, crashed into the merchants and customers, and said basically,…

March 1st, 2003
Life Goes on in Bracketville in Tough Times

Bracketology 101
I was introduced to the magic and ritual of March Madness in my grade school years. During tournament time, my dad would take my siblings and me to McDonald’s for breakfast before school and we’d devour our Egg McMuffins along with the USA Today sports page. We perused the brackets and my dad would explain the seedings, the selection process, the regions, and the NIT. At those breakfasts I learned enough about basketball to carry me through my adult years, when I didn’t have time to read Sports Illustrated cover-to-cover anymore and my work schedule interfered with watching the tournament games.
Studies in contrast
This year, I watched the part of the bracket pairings on TV.…

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