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March 3rd, 2003
A Baptist pastor shares his perspective on the re-election from Brazil

To the Editors of BustedHalo:
Like most people around the world, I saw the re-election of George W. Bush to the presidency of the United States as very sad news. It represents the continuation of an administration that does not have any respect for the international community, not to mention any voice of dissent among its own people.
I came to the U.S. as a student in 1998, during the Clinton years, and really liked the environment that I found in your country at the time. The economy was doing well, people took human and civil rights more seriously, and they had the right to dissent. In other words, American democracy had the moral authority to inspire other countries around the globe, and even to challenge them, when…

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.…

February 28th, 2003
A House Painter and the Importance of Passionate Living

Could it be that “lust” is one of the good seven deadly sins? Possibly the only one that is?
I love the word lust because the word brims with life. Now, when I talk about lust I’m not talking about sexual craving of another’s body, I’m taking about passion . Not that carnal craving is at all that bad. It’s that craving, after all, that brought each one of us into this world. But I opt for the
definition of lust:…”a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.”
Pair lust with the word life and you get? Lust for life. That phrase carries a cache in today’s pop culture. Car companies and cruise ship lines agree, as evidenced by their use of Iggy Pop’s…

February 27th, 2003
Real Facts from Snapple and from the Almanac of Life

Do you like Snapple? I like Snapple. Not only is there a treat inside every bottle, but there’s even a treat on the outside. Often, right on their label, you’ll find funny, goofy text describing the ingredients or the product. For example, on a bottle of Raspberry Ice Tea, it says, “Berry-ed Treasure” next to an illustration of raspberries. On the Kiwi Strawberry label, it has a teeny-weeny kiwi and a tiny strawberry with the words, “Separated at Birth,” and arrows pointing to the fruit in question.
Real factoids
Now, they even have treats under every Snapple bottle. It’s part of their “Collectus Cappus for Stuffus” campaign. What you’ll find…

February 27th, 2003
Don't Look Now, Unemployment Is Good for You

Just when you think you’ve heard it all comes this nugget: Joblessness may be good for you.
This curious theory comes courtesy of University of North Carolina economist Christopher Ruhm. Ruhm’s theory, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, states that for every 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate the death rate falls by 0.5 percent. To hear Ruhm tell it, when jobs are scarce people behave in a healthier manner. They exercise more, eat out less, and don’t make a habit of skipping doctor’s appointment when unemployed.
Excuse me?
I missed out
If what Ruhm says is true, why is it that I’m more likely to scarf a bag of Cheetos, cancel doctor’s appointments…

February 26th, 2003
Why L.A. Isn't Boston (the Real Reason)

The scandal moves to California
The epicenter of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal is poised to move west to California. That’s because a new state law , effective Jan. 1, 2003, did away with the statute of limitations for one year, allowing victims to sue employers of known sexual molesters. More than 100 new lawsuits have already been filed against Catholic dioceses in California.
But will California Catholics respond with the same shock, outrage, and fury as Boston Catholics? Most bets are “no.” But I’m not buying it. What I’m not buying are the reasons being given for why California Catholics?and Los Angeles Catholics in particular?won’t take to the streets the…

February 26th, 2003
Scripture Reflections for Sundays in Lent

Readings:
Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Rm 8:31b-34
Mk 9:2-10
Are you willing to risk everything for love?
This may sound… like the refrain of a Celine Dion song, but instead it is the question that confronts us in the readings from this Sunday of Lent .
First it eats at us in the bizarre tale of God asking the biblical hero Abraham to sacrifice his son and heir Isaac. Of course, God stops him at the last minute, but you have to wonder what’s up with this story. Some scholars see in it an ancient parable against child sacrifice (message: we think this is what God wants, but it isn’t really). Others say it’s symbolic of an initiation ritual�boys being made into men, undergoing an ordeal, close to pain and

February 26th, 2003
Toni Smith's Silent Protest Dares to Offend

March is nearly upon us, as is the brink of war. Usually when I think of March I tend to think of college basketball and March Madness, also known as the NCAA’s basketball tournament. However, at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, the winds of war are colliding with the swish of the nets.
Toni Smith, a senior guard on the Manhattanville College women’s basketball team has been refusing to face the flag during the national anthem, a silent protest that has been met by a much louder response, both positive and negative. Smith has given the impending war in Iraq as a reason for her protest.
In a statement made after a recent game Smith said, “A lot of people blindly stand up and salute the flag,…

February 20th, 2003
Cinematic Evil and the Real Thing

One weekend afternoon when I was a kid, the 1958 film The Blob came on TV. Maybe my mother shouldn’t have let me watch it. That scene where the terrified crush of young patrons spills from the movie theater, the murderous blob oozing after them, became one of my earliest movie memories.
The blob was so grisly and unstoppable. It made me very uneasy. What would people do if something like that really happened? How would we all get away?
I watched a lot of horror movies when I was young, saw hours of pretend evil. I absorbed the catalogue of cinematic monsters and all the different ways they did their victims in. There were the guys like Freddy and Jason, slashing and hacking and stabbing, and never really being dead.…

February 18th, 2003
What We Needed to Do for Love and Money

Two weeks before our wedding, Steve and I bought life insurance. Our insurance agent was impressed. He claimed that most young couples weren’t that responsible. I agreed and stated, “They should be. Marriage might be love but it’s also business.”
It’s not romantic but true: marriage is as much a financial merger as it is a mushy union. For Steve and I, however, wealth amalgamation meant zipping our sleeping bags together and tossing all our underwear into the same laundry basket. But little things add up. By the time we had been married 30 days, we’d accumulated a large purse of wedding gifts and an entirely new wardrobe: clothes suitable for Steve’s new job.
Earn…

February 14th, 2003

When it comes to the subject of love everybody is an expert. Your best friend tells you, “Face it he’s not worth it.” You read magazine articles about “how to get the most satisfaction out of your relationship.” And the guy or girl sitting across the table ordering wine appears to only have one thing on his or her mind: “What’s in this for me?”
There often seem to be only two ways to go when the question of love/lust comes up. One is to resolve, like the disgruntled cartoon Emily, that “love bites” and forego what seems like an exercise in constant humiliation; the second is to play the game of trying to get what you need out of a relationship as long as you…

February 12th, 2003
The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

The little round vial holds about an ounce of water. There’s a silver cross that sits on top of it. And in big block letters just one word: Jordan.
Those who see it might think its just a souvenir of Michael Jordan’s sweat collected between his many retirements.
But it’s my one souvenir from visiting the Jordan River. And it’s a reminder of that particular pilgrimage site in Israel that I visited a couple years ago.
Picture thisLike lots of places a pilgrim visits in the Holy Land, the exact location of Jesus’ baptism is debated. Some scholars say it’s here; others say it’s over there. But since this is where the huge souvenir store is, and it’s even handicap accessible,…

February 12th, 2003
Kids Teach Us the Holy Art of Making Mistakes

As an adult I make mistakes several times a day and usually feel slightly bad about each one. My nieces and nephew—Cristina, age 8; Patrick, 5; and Carolina, 3—make a mistake every ten minutes.
Constant bloopersOne can’t quite pour a glass of water without spilling some of it. The other takes on a craft project, although she can’t paint completely within the lines. The other bats ten times for every hit and changes the rules so it’s the running that counts.
My nieces and nephew live in a world of constant bloopers and they are fine with that. It’s the only world they know—stretching, trying, falling, learning, creating, and trying again.
Of course, they periodically get frustrated…

February 12th, 2003
Down to the Essentials

Yesterday, outside the Hogar de Cristo here in Arica, Chile, my mind boggled as I talked to a homeless, alcoholic, filthy and desperate man. Roberto stood outside the door, asking for food, obviously intoxicated. We began to talk, and I found myself struggling for an answer when he asked me why he should not throw himself off a cliff.
If he honestly wanted a motive, ten flashed into my mind instantly. I cannot imagine what keeps someone like him going. He´s 48, completely alone, and alcohol has ruled his life for years. His health is a shambles; long ago he lost contact with his family and friends; and he continually roams the streets looking for the next drink. What hope can a person like him possibly sustain?
Fundamental…

February 9th, 2003
Will the Church Soon Oppose ALL War?

Jesus was all about non-violence as the way to transform your enemy?s heart. Modern warfare has other ideas about what to do with your enemy’s heart.
As the debate around pummeling Saddam Hussein into oblivion intensifies, where does faith play a role in helping each of us to reach a reflective position?
Saddam is clearly terribly irrational. Do you know another world leader who goes fishing by lobbing grenades into a lake? (See Uncle Saddam featured at the L.A. Amnesty International Film Festival .)
But our Catholic faith has a 1,700 year old tradition defending just wars to take care of people like him, right?
St. Augustine came up with Just War theology in the fourth century to discourage Christians from…

February 9th, 2003

Recently we had the opportunity to babysit our friends’ 10-month-old baby boy. Matthew is a quiet and happy baby, smiling and ready to play. When our friends Maria and Andy went to a wedding, we had the chance to experience a full day with Matthew and learned a bit more about what Maria and Andy experience as parents of a small child.
The rookie and the proMarion has been baby-sitting since she was 14 and changed her first diaper when she worked as a candy-striper in a hospital. She also has four nieces and a nephew, so she was the veteran here.
Mike was a camp counselor for 6 years during his high school and college years. That has been his only experience with children of any kind, so needless to say he has never gotten…

February 9th, 2003
After School, Afterlife, and What It All Means on Ash Wednesday

TDeath has been on my mind in the past weeks, as I’ve had four different friends all lose a parent or grandparent. Usually such moments set me thinking on my own mortality or the fact that my parents are getting older. I especially get concerned about my mother, who’s been in poor health my whole life. But in these past weeks, I’ve been haunted by something that happened to me when I was a kindergarten student.
When I was a little boy, I used to cry if a teacher ever threatened to keep me after school. It took a lot of remembering (and a bit of therapy) to uncover why this upset me so much.
My mom had gone into the hospital when I was five or six. I remember being disappointed when she wasn’t there to greet…

February 7th, 2003

I read the reading from Genesis three times before I picked up on the rainbow. “I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The bow I kept seeing was the kind one uses in conjunction with an arrow, not a rainbow of light. But once I did see it that way, the power of God’s repentance, revelation, and healing just blew me away.
Imagine it, God just annihilated almost all of his creation, the one made in his own image. Picture Noah, with family and animals, first coming out of the Ark when the seas had subsided and the land dry. I see Noah, tired, hungry, his jaw dropped open and a hand rubbing his head in shock at what he sees, or fails to see around him. His whole world has…

February 7th, 2003
An Ash Smudge and the Cross of Christ

We are a smooth-skinned people.
Between walnut-shell exfoliants, multivitamins, microdermabrasion and “Botox parties,” well off Americans aim to erase death line by wrinkled line. We want to look like the ageless demigods of Oscar parties, our skin as seamless as an airbrushed photo in Self. It is jarring, then, to see people—polished and otherwise—branded with an unseemly cross of ashes; their baby skin made morbid.
Last Ash Wednesday in New York I walked down Broadway after a noontime Mass, surprised to see the hot dog vendor and the svelte blonde in black gabardine and the punk salesman at Tower Records all smudged and branded like myself.
As a public school girl I was embarrassed by this…

February 6th, 2003
Working on My Own from Project to Project

For most Americans work means a steady 9 to 5 gig with benefits. But the benefits of a weekly paycheck and health insurance often come with the price tag of long, traffic-clogged commutes, unfulfilling work, and tiresome co-workers.
Work and my fatherBut so what? as my father would say. Who ever said work was supposed to be fun and fulfilling? Get a hobby if you want fun.
My father came of age in the Depression years of the 1930′s—I was his surprise child, born when he was almost 50.
For my father, money—which provided the means and ability to take care of his family—was the most precious commodity. It was never a question of what kind of work you wanted to do. The best job was the most stable and well-paying.…

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