Busted Halo
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December 10th, 2003
Caring for the Temple of Me

I stepped on the scale the other day and it read:
Please get off of me, you fat bastard!
Somehow the scale that used
to read around 180 or 190 pounds has recently moved closer toward the 215 to 220 mark.
How did this happen? Where did forty pounds of unwanted flab around the mid-section on my six foot frame come from? Perhaps the answer lies not just in what’s on my plate but also within myself.
I’m generally a pretty lazy person who needs to be pushed at times. My wife has to ask me to do household chores, the laundry sometimes piles up, and my first drafts sometimes get handed in as articles unless someone prods me to work on them further.
What’s worse is that I do the same thing with the care of my body, the temple…

December 3rd, 2003
Unlikely Ways Home: Real-Life Spiritual Detours

It’s not often that a sexy cocktail waitress inspires a Catholic priest to write a book about faith journeys, but such is the case with Fr. Edward Beck’s Unlikely Ways Home: Real-Life Spiritual Detours. Story has it that Fr. Beck was having a drink in a Manhattan bar when a friend of his complained that priests only see spirituality in people who are praying in church. Like all great theological discussions that start in a bar, the conversation segued toward a waitress in a “barely legal mini-skirt.” Fr. Beck’s friend observed that he believed this waitress was a spiritual person. Incredulous, Fr. Beck asked how he came to that conclusion.
The friend said it was because of the way…

December 1st, 2003
The Holidays

Forget Survivor Thailand. One of the most challenging, daunting threats to modern mankind’s survival (and our sanity) is The Holidays . Now that they’re over, it’s time to assess the damage, see where our resources have been depleted, and concentrate on recovering enough so we can face another year of living in the jungle.
Not supposed to be like this…I’m not sure where things changed. I think it was somewhere between the time I got my driver’s license and when I became a parent. Somehow, the holidays, specifically Christmas , went from being a time I greatly anticipated to a time where I now have to psyche myself up, train, and strategize just to make it through in one piece.…

November 29th, 2003
A 1980's AIDS Volunteer and Activist on Angels in America

Separating life from art can be impossible in some cases; Angels in America is the most painful instance I know.
Now that the award-winning Broadway play has been superbly translated to TV by the playwright, Tony Kushner, and director Michael Nichols, that work of separation has become even more difficult for me, and will be for others. (Angels is running on HBO in two
parts: Sunday, December 7 and the following Sunday, December 14.) I recommend it heartily to viewers, not only as a great work of art but as an introduction to a time just passed in which people fought for survival and for justice on the streets and in the places in which now another generation lives—sometimes unaware of what went on there not so long…

November 23rd, 2003
In Maine with the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped

Gather forty strangers in one house and give them ten days to three weeks to learn music, dance routines, scenes, and monologues for a show open to the public.
Is this reality TV? No, it’s just reality, spending the summer with cool and talented people in coastal Maine, as a student at NTWH, the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped.
Those people.That’s of the disabled, not
for . My fellow students came from all over the country and all over the world with their wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, guide dogs, and personal care attendants (PCAs) in tow. The Maine campus is fully accessible but what we do there isn’t about rehab, charity, or pity. Pity connotes something weak or someone inferior.…

November 18th, 2003
Joan of Arcadia Brings Divine Sneakiness (and Teenage Angst) to CBS

We’ve been Touched by an Angel and even walked the Highway to Heaven. Yes, folks, divine intervention has found its way into prime time television in the past, but hold on to your haloes, the newest addition to spiritual programming does more than send winged friends to earth.
The Big Cheese Himself—or in some cases, Herself—steps into the spotlight in CBS’s new Friday night show Joan of Arcadia (8 p.m. ET/PT, premiered Sept. 26). Wait, before you picture a glowing light or a grandfatherly-looking dude with a booming voice, prepare to be surprised.
God’s kinda…hot?Joan Girardi, our protagonist, has recently moved to the town of Arcadia with her family. While not drama-free, the Girardis…

November 17th, 2003
Matrix Revolutions: All Action No Personality Makes Neo… a Video Game

What I call the “Matrix phenomenon” is something I wanted to believe in and tried to understand.
For a split second, this phenomenon allowed me to believe in a force greater than myself that was not necessarily tied to my Christian notion of God. It gave me a savior, made me believe that I had purpose, and it asked me to find my path and follow it—although I may not have fully understood.
Pity the theatrical release of Matrix: Revolutions on November 5 ruined it all for me.
Yes, Revolutions completes the story of The Matrix, but it also digresses to a predictable
video-game action movie, garnished with a little cheesy, clichéd dialogue, topped off with a vague ending that mocks the integrity of Matrices…

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 31st, 2003
Halloween Origins and Current Practices

Ever wonder where Halloween traditions came from? Are they evil? Pagan? Holy?
Fire FestivalsThe ancient Celts celebrated seasonal feasts to honor the gods of nature. Halloween’s pagan origin was a fire festival known as Samhain . It took place from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 and marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and a new year.
Being “in-between” seasons, Samhain was a time of “no time”—chaos reigned. People did crazy things, pulled pranks, and disguised themselves. It was considered “a magical time when the dead walked among the living and veils of past and present were lifted.”
Along come the Christians…
The word Halloween, however, is derived…

October 28th, 2003
Radically Reinventing Your Look on Extreme Makeover

I am huge fan of reality television, but I never watched many network reality shows until I moved and my finances decided for me (to hold off on getting cable).
My archaic rabbit ears only receive two channels well. I was ever so lucky to see in clear perfect reception on Fox my Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox all get humiliatingly eliminated in the baseball playoffs. As soon as Aaron Boone hit the game winning home run during the seventh game of the American League championship series, I switched to my other channel, ABC, to watch Extreme Makeover .
Can a person really remake herself from the outside in?
Boldly going where no cosmetics have gone beforeI love makeover shows. I would love to submit my mother to What Not to Wear on…

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…

October 14th, 2003
A Conservative's Unhappy Conclusions on the Affaire d'Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh died last week. In a way.
The Rush I knew?my principled companion for three hours a day?is in some very serious legal trouble, under investigation for illegally purchasing painkillers.
I never expected perfection from Rush? but I did expect more of him. As I do the President, I hold Rush to a higher ethical standard than I do, say, Kid Rock .
My roots with Rush
I do not, as much of the media assumes of “dittoheads ,” stand by my radio eagerly awaiting the start of his show so that I may base my political direction upon his say-so. He often says what I think, better than I could ever attempt to.
I’m not the only one who can tell that story: Limbaugh’s voice is one of the most listened-to…

October 1st, 2003
THE RETURN OF THE KING fulfills the spirit of Tolkien

As many of us had hoped, director Peter Jackson and his commendable crew offer moments of great terror in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King . Fantasy finds a new realism. Shelob the Great Spider is ever-so believably portrayed. The fires and lava of Mount Doom splash across the screen in marvelous intensity. We feel the heat.
But there is also great beauty and majesty. We feast our eyes on the great city of Minas Tirith.
Yet be prepared for the most inspired and majestic grandeur of all: our tremendously gifted director, screenwriters, cast, and crew have bestowed on us the full, deep humanity of the protagonists’ heroic witness. In The Return of the King we experience for ourselves, however vicariously,…

September 26th, 2003
We Didn't Know What We Were Missing

“In the year 2000,” writes Tom Wolfe , novelist and Grand Poobah of non-fiction, “in the era of hooking up, ?first base’ meant deep kissing (tonsil hockey), groping, and fondling; ?second base’ meant oral sex; ?third base’ meant going all the way; and ?home plate’ meant learning each other’s names. Getting to home plate was relatively rare, however.”
The phenomenon, this whole business of “hooking up,” so intrigued the seventy-year-old Wolfe that he slapped the term across the dust jacket of his most recent book. But is a hookup really so worthy of all this Wolfian disdain ? If he’s willing, she’s willing, and no one’s…

September 18th, 2003
New Book on a Spiritual Approach to Finding Your Direction

Getting a Life: How to Find Your True Vocation by Renée LaReau, Orbis (2003), 158 pages.
It seems to me life improves drastically after you hit 30.…

September 17th, 2003
Father-Daugther Tips from Today's Silver Screen

Raising kids today is more challenging than it has ever been. Kids today just aren’t as young as they used to be. I don’t have any scientific research to back this up, but I do have two specimens under my roof who give me all the proof I need.
To wrangle young people these days, a concerned dad needs to be two steps ahead, and not afraid to admit he needs help. But how to learn? Where to turn? A resourceful, modern-day dad like me immediately knows where to go for sound, practical parental guidance: The Movies.
With my teenage son, it’s a bit easier, since it wasn’t that long ago that I myself was a young dude. But with my preteen daughter, it’s more of a struggle. I have little or no experience…

September 12th, 2003

Entire wars have been fought over it, British lords beheaded, Spanish mystics incarcerated, principalities set on fire, and now it travels the internet in search of friendships to destroy.
It is religion.
And then there’s something about e-mail that sometimes erases our better judgment from our brains, we automatically copy and paste and hit send… and sometimes, just sometimes, what we have just catapulted into cyberspace could be…
even more destructive than a virus…
So forwarding an e-mail that deals with religion could forever change our relationships with those on the other end of our electronic tethers.
And in real time…So… just in case this happens to you……

August 30th, 2003
Art's power to transform reality

Art has the power to transform us into something better, something greater, so long as we don’t merely place it on a pedestal. On my recent trip to Nicaragua, several images revealed the sensitivities of my heart in a way that I did not expect.
The streets in Leon, Nicaragua, were filled with youngsters hawking everything from small trinkets to newspapers to water. As we made our way to the Cathedral, other small children found their way to us, asking for food or money. Even in the Cathedral, there were dozens of people begging. I felt uncomfortable. My friend Ken, remarked that “we’ve learned to ignore the poor at home.” Here it wasn’t so easy.
Where’s Jesus?I decided to focus…

August 26th, 2003
Was It Just Me and My Possible Tumor - or Not?

It started with a simple physical. The doctor was almost done when, feeling my neck, she exclaimed, “Hello, what’s this?”
This turned out to be a lump , the size of a strawberry, nestled on my thyroid. It didn’t occur to me that it might be something to worry about. That is, until she called for another doctor’s opinion. They had never seen a lump that size before, which started my heart pounding like a Ricky Ricardo bongo solo.
Then she referred me to an oncologist.
Now I was worried
But I discovered that the fear of cancer was not foremost on my mind. Instead, I found myself thinking, “I may be sick and I’m alone.” That part, about being alone, was almost as scary as…

July 14th, 2003
The Troubles and Triumphs of the Man Who Rode Seabiscuit

You have heard this story: it’s about a good man, a complex man who had the world at his feet, then watched it drop away; who gave generously, lived loudly, and died forgotten and in pain.
Extra weight
Before he jockeyed the great Seabiscuit, the gorgeously literate Johnny “Red” Pollard brooded much and saved little. In the Depression era, Pollard and his little horse?who, in a sleek Thoroughbred world, was cute where he should have been magnificent?held all 48 states in thrall. They won a great deal together. They would have won a great deal more if racing officials hadn’t continuously heaved up to 133 extra pounds onto Seabiscuit’s back to even the odds for lesser horses.
The stacks…

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