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March 15th, 2003
Practicing Resurrection for Easter

I regularly check into a community discussion board called craigslist. On the morning that Baghdad fell, almost as if staged for the world’s all-seeing cameras, someone posted a message entitled “Wake up slacker, and watch history!” There’s a way in which these Easter morning readings can make us laugh in a similar nervous bemusement as well as fill us with a humbling sense of awe and responsibility.
The vigil is over.
The long night has passed into day.
Friends and family have been baptized and received into Christian community.
But when the long night of fear and chaos is over, or even when the rowdy joy of the party is over, then what? You mean there’s life after that? You mean I…

March 11th, 2003
South Texas to DC and the Challenge of Embracing Change

There were moments after arriving here in DC from rural south Texas that I felt I was dealing with a different animal altogether. After all, I exited the Farragut North subway station in the morning watching well dressed, perfect-looking people carrying their shoulder bags and slurping their lattes while chatting on their cell phones, presumably planning thhe next power lunch of the day.
A long way from South Texas…It was a stark contrast from the world of farmers, housewives, and runny-nosed children in which I had existed the two years previously while teaching at a small Catholic school in South Texas. My previous days consisted of “morning prayer” and role call; then lunch counts and bathroom…

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 10th, 2003
Does the Glamour of Evil Make It Easier to Believe In?

I am going to break one of my own writing rules here, and turn to Hollywood for wisdom:
“Why,” said George Burns, representing God, “is it so easy to believe in that movie about exorcism, and not believe in me? All she did was spit out some pea soup, and suddenly everybody’s talking about the devil.”
Well�evil, at least on the surface, is cool. Hit the true crimes section of any bookstore: We cannot get enough of guts and guns and rape. Hanging around with Ned Flanders , on the other hand, is the quickest ticket to the non-invite list. Witchcraft, Satan, possession, hell�these are things not discussed in polite company, and we are therefore endlessly fascinated.
Back in the fall,…

March 7th, 2003
Sometimes Anger Is the Daugher of Hope

Mad as hell…but without hope
There’s a famous scene from the movie Network where newsman Howard Beale who is fed up with the manipulation, lying, and general state of things decides to go on live television and declare to the world, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” He encourages others to join him but gets nowhere. Becoming despondent over his powerlessness, he ends up killing himself on national television, giving his network great ratings in the process. He began by being angry at all that was wrong but he ended by giving up and adding to the wrong. His anger lacked hope, the kind of hope born of faith.
Anger and Augustine
Saint Augustine , back in the 4th century…

March 6th, 2003
The Spiritual Search of a Student Activist

Early bloomer
My roots in activism grew quickly. I became aware of many world problems through the help of some Southeast Asian friends during my sophomore year of high school. At that time, Indonesia was fighting for the right to have free elections; people were dying for the right to freely mark a piece of paper.
I knew something was wrong there and in other similar situations around the world, but was unable to put my finger on what that something was. As I discovered more, I desperately clung to whatever political ideology was at hand, trying to uncover that something.
Through the rest of high school, I protested injustice, published ‘zines, engaged in debate with my friends; knowing dozens of sociological…

March 6th, 2003

Luke has appointed himself as my evening ride lookout. In the mornings, I ride the bus to work at the Campus for Human Development, but Curt, one of my six roommates, works three blocks away and picks me up those evenings he doesn’t teach life skills in the prisons.
As participants crowd around our exit doors waiting to draw tickets for a spot in our Room in the Inn shelter program, sometimes it is difficult to see the parking lot from inside. Of course, I could just wait outside. However, by the end of the day, it’s hard for me to listen to the never-ending litany of questions and statements from the homeless participants. Have you heard the phrase, “A face only a mother could love?” By this time…

March 3rd, 2003
The Spirituality of Homelessness Means Giving Up Control

There is a God on the streets. And a faith more genuine than the one we perceive the crazy street evangelists to be talking about.
The spirituality of the homelessThe spirituality of the homeless isn’t necessarily different from anyone else’s. It can’t be put into a neat summary.
It is different from mine—that’s what I notice. It’s different mostly because…

it’s developed and supported despite experiences and circumstances that have landed people on the streets,
its a spirituality stripped down and genuine because the streets take material possessions away,
and, often times, it’s a spirituality of recovery as many are recovering addicts, and they’ve…

March 3rd, 2003
Two Women, Two Nations at War

War began on my thirteenth birthday, alien blue tracer fire arcing over the minarets and round curving buildings of Baghdad. I sat cross-legged on the couch with an open notebook in my lap, not studying for final exams. There were too many journalists swearing comically into gas masks for such things.
Since then
Between the first Persian Gulf War and last Wednesday, I graduated from high school (“Did Kerry say I sent Tim a note? I never sent Tim a note!”) earned two college degrees (“Did Kerry say I let Tim buy me a shot? Tim can’t buy squat when he’s face down in a puddle of Yaegermeister! Go ahead, email him!”) and completed a Master’s in nonfiction writing (both Kerry…

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…

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