Busted Halo
Features : Entertainment & Lifestyle
 
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June 17th, 2014
Two years in a row huge crowds have descended upon Rio de Janeiro to celebrate faith (2013) and soccer (now). Can you tell the difference?

It is happening again. Nearly a year after Rio de Janeiro hosted World Youth Day, millions of screaming, face-painted, flag-waving fanatics have flocked to Brazil to fill up the streets and stadiums and make some noise. But this time it’s not the Catholic faith or Pope Francis inciting these pilgrims, but rather their love of a sport and the likes of Ronaldo, Suarez and Messi motivating them as they journey to worship at the altar of soccer, or as they call it all over the rest of the world, football, for the World Cup 2014. Noting the similarities in dress code and nationalistic pride between the two groups of pilgrims (or disciples, zealots, or supporters, depending on which vernacular you prefer…

June 9th, 2014
How walking across Spain for two weeks changed my life

There is a saying amongst pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, Spain’s ancient pilgrimage path: “The real Camino doesn’t begin until you arrive back home.”
The place where we grew up is typically “home.” It’s an anchor, and we can always return to that physical location. But the thought of returning also brings up a sense of apprehension because home is usually, in some way, dysfunctional. It can be difficult to leave home and return when older, as a different person.
Starting at a young age, I emotionally ran away from the arguing and fighting dysfunction in my family. When college rolled around, I physically ran away from my hometown of Portland, Oregon, to Spokane, Washington, hoping to escape…

May 28th, 2014

I don’t remember the first time I made someone laugh, but I must have liked it. As a boy growing up in suburban Chicago, I watched David Letterman nightly with a devotion bordering on obsession. Sleep, school and grades were all sacrificed at the altar of Stupid Pet Tricks and Top Ten lists. The world of late night television seemed to be so contrary to the grim, hyper-organized world of school, which dominated my life with its obligations, tasks and duties. Late night was a world of irreverent pranks, loud music and fun conversation. This was a world I wanted to be a part of. Little did I know.
Before becoming a Jesuit, I spent the better part of my 20s as a struggling comedian, and I can tell you right now that a life…

May 7th, 2014

It is the time of the church year when we consider that a dead man came back to life and walked among us for 40 days. In the lingering energy of Easter’s festivities, I sat down to catch up on ABC’s new drama, Resurrection, which is set in a small town in Missouri where people begin to return from the grave.
The show began as a couple wrestled with the reappearance of their precious 6-year-old boy who had drowned decades earlier. In recent episodes, the town’s pastor must face the sudden return of his love who had committed suicide years earlier. The uniqueness of the series is grounded in human emotion. We witness the resurfacing of feelings that death had exacted in the lives of these characters, and the unravelling…

May 1st, 2014

High school students are entering a critical time of year — college acceptance/rejection letter season — when seniors find out where they got in and decide where they will attend in the fall. For most students, it marks the beginning of the biggest transition they’ve ever experienced in their life. But while you may be at the top of your class, the bottom or somewhere in-between, everyone is challenged by some bad habit or another when it comes to school. If you’re a high school junior or senior you may already be painfully aware of the bad habits that get you into trouble and make your life more difficult than it needs to be. The real danger with high school bad habits, though, is that they often…

April 15th, 2014

It is easy to share the personal highlight reel of my life, but I will stutter if you ask me the last time I truly felt vulnerable. I enjoy being independent and do not ask for help from others unless I am put in a tough spot. The first time I purchased a car on my own my parents offered financial assistance, but instead of accepting their offer, I picked up extra jobs to save up. When I was in college, I paid for my own tuition with scholarships and by working part-time. Like many young adults, I take pride in my independence and find it jarring to be put in a position where I have to ask for help.
That all changed when I was in a car accident this winter. The wheels that carried me to work and social outings and on road trips were no more.…

March 20th, 2014
A look at the intersection of Catholic colleges and the NCAA College Basketball Tournament

As the Madness of March and college basketball descend upon the sporting world, once again there are many Catholic colleges in the mix. Over the years, Georgetown, Marquette, Gonzaga, Notre Dame and many other Catholic schools have been a part of the landscape that is men’s and women’s college basketball. Of the more than 350 schools that compete in Division 1 NCAA basketball, about 10 percent of them are affiliated with or classified as Catholic schools. And year after year, the presence of Catholic schools in the NCAA tournament stays true to the 10 percent, or more often exceeds it. This year, nine of the 68 teams in the men’s bracket are Catholic schools (13 percent) and seven of the 64 teams…

February 6th, 2014

This February brings about a very special time in the sports calendar that comes around only once every four years: the Winter Olympics. The coastal resort town of Sochi, Russia, has been selected to play host to the world this winter. There will likely be much fanfare and media attention given to the medalists and other contenders whose prominence transcends their own sport. Over the years, Kristi Yamaguchi, Peekaboo Street, and Shaun White have become names familiar to the U.S. Olympic enthusiast. Additionally, athletes competing in sports particularly popular during the Winter Games have become household names and a part of the pop cultural landscape, sometimes for the drama beyond the sport itself (think:…

February 5th, 2014
The connection between faith, writing and waiting

I just read a really terrific short story, and now I feel myself bobbing like a cork toward a deep dark cataract of despair. On the one hand, part of me truly delights in this well-crafted, mysterious piece of prose by a writer of growing renown. At the same time, though, the marvelment I feel is coated in a very thick layer of, not envy exactly, but a sense of comparative professional inadequacy. I stare at the pages in my hands like I’m trying to decipher hieroglyphs, and I ask myself: How did he do that? How did he write something so subtle and memorable and complex? Why can’t I do that? When will I be able to do that? Will I ever?
I say that I’m floating toward a deep dark cataract of despair — deep and dark, yes,…

February 3rd, 2014

Lonely blue jays and cardinals mark the days of midwinter, spreading color sparingly with their fretted flights above browned lawns and bare, grey trees. Even silver-haired snowbirds are growing weary of southern hibernation and long to return to the blooming laughter and hustle of families and children along street corners, park benches and backyard barbecues.
The world moves with stiff joints and shallow breaths through mornings where the step from bed feels like an arctic swim, while our motivation to change seems as stuck as a Prius on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an ice storm. With many weeks of cold still ahead, we are already growing irritated with wool coats, early evening’s darkness, frosted windshields…

January 29th, 2014

January is drawing to a close, which means football season is as well. For some, this is a bittersweet time, full of Super Bowl fervor followed by a hollowness that cannot be filled until the draft starts up in May (or at least until SportsCenter begins avidly discussing new prospects later in February). But for others, myself included, the Super Bowl is a time of dread. This year, with Super Bowl XLVIII coming to my city, I cannot be less enthusiastic about a bunch of burly men rolling around on some fake grass. And with a snowy polar vortex in full swing, I think we already have enough to worry about without traffic jams, crazed fans, and the “NFL Experience” taking over the New York metropolitan area.
If you’re…

January 27th, 2014

We often hear of things being super, but how super are they really? Superstorm Sandy was not any fun for people in the Northeast. Superman isn’t even a real human person, only a character of comic and film fiction. And the Super Mario Bros. don’t have anything on me and my two brothers. (Please… we can jump higher and grow better mustaches.) But the Super Bowl? That might actually be worthy of being called “super.”
It’s Super Pop Cultural
Although the Super Bowl is really just a football game, is it so much more than that. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched athletic events on television every year. It carries with it many pop subcultures. Super Bowl commercials are often more watched and talked…

January 15th, 2014
Making the most of a day off courtesy of Mother Nature

When I was a teacher, I used to view snow days very differently. Each time school was called off, I’d feel like I was back in my twin-sized bed, under flannel sheets, in my Garfield nightgown, with my mom peeking through my bedroom door to deliver the good news before going to work. Few experiences could transport me back to childhood so quickly in my adult life as having a snow day, even if I was the one, now, in front of a room full of squirrelly students saying, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to listen to the news tomorrow morning,” secretly praying for school to be called off and just as excited.
In my years after teaching, I started working another job and began commuting to work. Snow days quickly…

January 13th, 2014

Then came The Fall, which is what I like to call what happened when I was 26 and my metabolism turned on me like Benedict Arnold — or Judas Iscariot if you prefer to keep things biblical. I didn’t realize it right away; I never weighed myself and I ignored the pleas of the waistlines of my jeans and khakis, while stuffing myself into them until the buttons inevitably popped off in exasperation; at which point I would just curse shoddy workmanship and dig through my closet for yet another pair of pants whose seams I could stretch to their farthest limits.
It was only after my doctor gingerly informed me that I was clinically overweight that I began to consider the idea that I was … well … clinically overweight.…

January 8th, 2014
Don't make just another New Year's resolution. Change a daily habit -- and improve your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Lately, New Year’s resolutions have been getting a bad rap. And sure, the ubiquitous weight-loss goal is easy to ridicule, since it always seems to fail.
The essential problem is that New Year’s resolutions are big, dramatic, turning-point goals. But our health is not a matter of big dramatic choices we make. Instead, it’s all about the habits we slide into.
Yet a “new year” still holds so much inherent appeal — the feeling that things can be different, that we can make a fresh start.
You can have the best of both worlds. Why not apply the momentum of the new year to a realistic habit change?
After all, when you find ways to improve your physical well-being, your mental and spiritual well-being will…

December 26th, 2013

As the year draws to a close let’s take a look back over the events of 2013 and remember the things that we have lost over the past 12 months (some for the better). Whether they left us cheering or jeering, here are 13 “endings” from 2013. What would you add to the list?
Breaking Bad — After five seasons watching the exploits (and tragic downward spiral) of chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White, fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad finally got to see how the story ends. Though we had to bid Walter White and Jesse Pinkman goodbye when the final episode aired September 29, there is some good news for Breaking Bad addicts: AMC is moving forward with a spin-off series, Better Call Saul, based on lawyer Saul Goodman…

December 24th, 2013
What to do when you feel more "Bah! Humbug!" than "Holly Jolly" this Christmas

It goes without saying that the holiday season is stressful. Holidays may be especially stressful for young adults, as going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s isn’t quite as simple as it once was. Young adults reside in the land of “already, but not yet” in terms of career, relationships and financial stability, and navigating through that land during the holidays can make one want to have pizza delivered and bypass all things holly jolly.
For example, John landed his ideal medical residency program, which means he doesn’t have time to travel for holidays. His family is proud of him, but does not understand why he’s not spending a week with them like his graduate…

December 19th, 2013

While we’re on the subject of Christmas music, let me recommend two short musical dramas with Christmas themes.
Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors,… the first opera ever composed specifically for television, centers around Amahl, a handicapped shepherd boy with a tendency to make up stories. Amahl’s widowed mother, already driven to distraction by desperate poverty, doesn’t know how to cope with her son’s overactive imagination. One cold winter night, three kings arrive at their door, needing hospitality from the destitute shepherds. Amahl underlines this irony with some telling questions:
AMAHL: Are you a real king?
BALTHAZAR: Yes.
AMAHL: Have you regal blood?
BALTHAZAR: Yes.

December 18th, 2013

As a singer, I realize the natural bias that comes with the following statements:

Music is the universal language crossing all lines of ethnicity, economic background and experience.
Music communicates beyond the words sung or the notes played and can evoke moving emotions of the human spirit.

That being said, I find Christmas carols and songs to be a genre of music that inspires a joy and happiness that really sneaks up on you. Christmas music starts playing like clockwork in my parents’ home. The day after Thanksgiving, before we put up the Christmas tree and set up the decorations outside, we turn to our favorite Christmas songs to get us into the spirit. The Christmas season is one full of preparation, excitement…

December 18th, 2013

“We might as well be moving to Russia!” I wailed at my mother as I threw my Han Solo action figure into the packing box with the rest of my toys. The reality was we were moving from the North Side of Chicago to the South Side, but to a 7-year-old whose entire existence had been made up of a few city blocks, there was nothing more terrifying than leaving the comforting northern den of my beloved Cubs, for the thorny lair of the hated White Sox.
My mother had just remarried after my father’s death the year before. Added on to the indignity of leaving the only neighborhood I had ever known — where all my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents resided as well — was the fact that I would be changing…

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