Busted Halo
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May 1st, 2002

“I’ll be right here.”
- E.T. to Elliot before blasting off for home
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
-Jesus to his disciples, before blasting off for heaven
So E.T. is twenty years old. That face. Those eyes. It seems like he hasn’t aged a bit. In fact, with his new facelift, he’s even more spry than ever. If this Web site was www.nra.org, the site for the National Rifle Association, we might be discussing how wrong it was for the director, Steven Spielberg, to digitally turn some of the guns in the film into walkie-talkies (he was concerned it wasn’t suitable for the kiddies, although, interestingly enough, he did think it was okay to have Elliot,…

April 20th, 2002

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”
A line by Russell Crowe’s Maximus before going into battle in Gladiator
By now you have surely heard of The Osbournes, MTV’s new show all about the life of musician Ozzy Osbourne and his family. Here’s how MTV describes the show:
“The Cleavers, the Bradys, the Cosbys?and now the Osbournes. It’s the next generation of family-oriented sitcom, a reality-based comedy that follows the lives of Ozzy Osbourne and his family. There’s no script, the situations are real, the family is normal?well, sort of. (Watch) the First Family of Rock and Roll welcoming you to their world.”
When I set out to watch the show so I could…

April 18th, 2002

On one level “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (IFC Films) as directed by Alfonso Cuaron is funny, racy, and sexy with scenes shot on some of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches.
The movie is a fantasy tale about the exuberance and excesses of youth as depicted when two friends Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) go on a road trip to the beach with Luisa (Maribel Verdi), the wife of Tenoch’s cousin, who is leaving her intellectual writer husband because of his infidelity.
The lure of watching pretty explicit and sometimes forbidden sex scenes on the screen apparently transcends the difficulties people have with English subtitles, as the movie is drawing big audiences for a foreign film.…

April 2nd, 2002

The edgiest character on TV these days is a sponge. He’s SpongeBob Squarepants and if you’ve never seen or heard of him, I strongly recommend you check out this creative, cutting-edge cartoon on the Nickelodeon cable network.
Before I explain why he’s so edgy, perhaps a brief introduction is in order, for those late arrivals to the Squarepants party. Allow me to loosely quote from his theme song: SpongeBob is a buck-toothed, rectangular-shaped character who “lives in a pineapple under the sea.” He’s “absorbent, yellow and porous,” and he fills his hometown, Bikini Bottom, with “nautical nonsense.”
SpongeBob’s pants are square,…

April 2nd, 2002
Enjoy The Da Vinci Code But Don't Believe It

Bookworm friends said they couldn’t put it down. More traditional Catholics excoriated it, calling it anti-Catholic. And good New York conspiracy nuts were declaring in the diner where I eat on Wednesday mornings that it was all absolutely true.
What could I do but read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code ? Hungry reader that I am, I engulfed it. As a concerned priest?yet averagely gossipy and intensely skeptical person?I had a more complicated reaction to the book.
Can you keep a secret?
There are limits to what anyone can believe. The basic premise of Brown’s novel is that the clandestine Priory of Sion has been guarding the location of the Holy Grail in unbroken succession from the time of the Crusades…

March 28th, 2002
A Generation of More "Realistic" Computer Games

Virtual AmericaConstruct your own “virtual neighborhood” where hundreds of clones of Sam Walton, Michael Eisner, and Rupert Murdoch compete inside a gated community. Play as one of the three and set sales quotas for products that an army of immigrants, who toil underground for minimum wage, will want to buy. Caution: not for sale in Mexican border towns.
BustedEstablish a thriving medical practice in breast enlargement. In timed relays you must discover new and expensive ways to create the “perfect breast”—one that defies gravity and time. Craft the perfect breast and win an all expense cyber trip to sunny Beverly Hills. But be careful: ruin a breast and you get sent to Grenada…

March 9th, 2002

Quilts, like all big projects, eventually become metaphors. It’s no surprise; quilts, like life, are enormous undertakings that should only be started after much careful consideration and, possibly, alcohol. Certainly, I knew how much work would be involved in making my first quilt?my mother’s entire existence seems consumed by her passion for the art form?but I ploughed ahead anyway, without forethought, without booze. Quilting, I figured, is just time, patience, and effort. Surely, with my husband’s help, I’d pump out a blanket with energy to spare.
Steve knew better.
“You’ll have to measure a lot?and keep everything straight.”
“No problem. I…

March 1st, 2002
Film Review: Signs

“There are two kinds of people in this world,” says Graham, the ex-Episcopalian priest played by Mel Gibson in Signs, the new thriller from Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan. There are those, the widower and former clergyman means to say, who see the signs of a Higher Power at work in the world and those who don’t.
“Which are you?” That is the big question for Graham, his brother Merrill, his young children, and each of us sitting in the audience.
It’s a bizarre proposition, a otherworldly film (a la The X-Files ) literally about giant etchings in the corn crops that explores the idea of whether or not the Man Upstairs (as my grandmother used to say) is looking after us or…

February 18th, 2002

Kandahar captures what every U.S. radio, television and print journalist has been trying to make come to life for Americans over the past four months.
If you’re like me, you’re a kind of numb to all the media coverage of the plight of the Afghani people by now, and yet, Afghanistan and its people still seem like a far away and remote place.
But Iranian-born Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s recently released film “Kandahar” is a beautiful movie that succeeds in piercing a numb U.S. heart long enough to connect with the distinct personalities and dreams of the film’s characters.
Filmed before Sept. 11, “Kandahar” tells the timely story of Nafas (played by Nelofer Pazira),…

February 8th, 2002

World Youth Day is this absolutely insane gathering of Catholic young people from all over the world, who converge on some poor unsuspecting city and basically take over the place.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II “invited” Catholic young people to Rome (you know, hey, guys, stop by for a drink). It was so cool that he decided that this should happen more often. So, about every two years, a different country hosts (what were they thinking?) this event…World Youth Day has been in Spain, Poland, Denver, Manila, Paris, and back in Rome in 2000. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is gearing up for WYD2002 from July 23-28.
You might be thinking at the ripe old age of 22 or 27 or 35…hey, I’m no “youth”…oh,…

February 2nd, 2002

“Love on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise.
Just pour me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies?”
– From Neil Diamond’s “Love On the Rocks”
While flipping through my bible (Entertainment Weekly) the other day, I stumbled upon an ad that, well, let’s just say it caught my attention. The ad depicted a scene of a happy, dancing threesome, one guy pressed up between two women, with a third woman dancing in front of them, looking to join in. At least, I think they’re supposed to be dancing.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re all fully clothed. Other than a few violations of the guidelines for “personal space,” (even for this type of dancing),…

January 16th, 2002
An Infinity of Little Hours: The Trial of Faith of Five Young Men in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order

What would it be like to see the face of God with your own eyes?
In the year 1084 St. Bruno of Cologne and six companions climbed a mountain in the French Alps with the goal of doing exactly that: achieving union with God in their own lifetime. Despite the intense cold, they built huts for themselves at the very top of the mountain and took up lives of solitude, contemplation and prayer. In doing so, they founded the Carthusian order, the most austere monastic order in the Western world.
Nearly 900 years later, Paddy O’Connell, a young Irishman not yet thirty, pulls the bell rope outside the gatehouse of the imposing Carthusian monastery in Parkminster, England, and asks admittance. Hans Klein, an East German,…

January 12th, 2002
A review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

We waited and we hoped and then we went to the midnight show. We were not disappointed. They got this one just right; the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix… is perhaps the best so far in the series. Like any other devoted Potter-ite, I have a few critiques but on the whole, as in JK Rowling’s book, Harry’s Occlumency lessons with Severus Snape, the training of Dumbledore’s Army, and the Ministry of Magic’s dogged denial of reality add up to a cinematic ride that pulls viewers along as if they were traveling by portkey (you know, that magical object that gives you the sensation of being sucked forward at an alarming speed from somewhere behind your navel).
If you don’t

January 10th, 2002
JC's Girls' unusual evangelization to the sex industry

“We got some other girls together and we went out to our first strip club.”
It may sound like the beginnings of a wild bachelorlette party but in fact it is elementary school teacher Tanya Huerter’s recollection of the first step she and two other women from Southern California took toward creating an outreach to the adult entertainment industry.
Huerter along with Lori Albee and Heather Veitch are the founders of JC’s Girls a ministry whose mission is to “seek to share God’s message of hope and forgiveness by reaching out in a nonjudgmental way to those who are in the sex industry.” The trio, who is affiliated with Sandals Church in Riverside, Ca, explodes any stereotype…

January 8th, 2002
I'm only five "Why's" away from an ontological crisis

What’s that?
I’m buckling my son into his car seat the other morning when he points to the tool used to scrape snow off the windshield.
“It’s an ice scraper, sweetheart.”
Why?
“So we can scrape the ice off the windshield.”
Why?
“So we can see when we drive.”
Why?
“So we don’t crash.”
Why?
“Because we don’t want to die.”
Why?

What am I supposed to tell the kid? Because we value our lives? I know what his reply will be: Why? Because they are a gift. Why? Um, because life is sacred. Why?
I like to think I have a good education and am respectably literate on matters of meaning and religion, but my two-year-old son reminds me that…

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