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December 4th, 2002
The Emperor's Club Laments Moral Emptiness Among the Elites

“How will history remember you?”
That is the question that Mr. Hundert (Kevin Kline ) puts to the boys of St. Benedict’s Prep School in his classics classroom. He asks himself the same question when he meets these students again 25 years later.
The secondary question is: “Does history give us an accurate picture of those it remembers, or are only accomplishments recalled without regard to how they are achieved?”
No Dead Poets hereFor those of you who think this movie is a continuation of Dead Poets Society, you could not be further from the truth. Both tell the story of an inspiring prep school teacher, but that is where the comparisons end. Hundert teaches character along with history…

December 3rd, 2002
Seen the "Gift of the Year" Lately?

Remember all that news footage of mothers beating one another over the head in a mad rush to snag the Must-Have, Hot Gift Of The Year, the one their children are whining for and will tire of approximately four seconds after opening it?
I haven’t seen one this year. It doesn’t exist.
Nice, huh?
Some look upon this annual Olympic wrestling at the mall as the act of a loving parent fulfilling the wishes and dreams of the baby she carried and bore, the mighty efforts of a woman desperate to keep alive a child’s innocent love of and trust in Santa Claus in this cold, cruel world.
Others look upon this as sick.
Perhaps I inherited the latter attitude from my mother, who patently refused to participate in the…

December 3rd, 2002
Reflections on Overeating in America

Remember the days before “super size”?
Remember when the smallest size coffee you could order was—you won’t believe this—a “small”?
When was the last time you ate out at a restaurant and felt full only after finishing your meal? Within the lifetime of Busted Halo visitors, it seems American society has actually institutionalized gluttony. Regarded as a sin since the earliest recording of the seven deadly sins 100 years before the birth of Christ, our culture has turned overeating into the norm. Bizarrely, we’ve somehow been able to do this while at the same time depicting the likes of Kate Moss as the pinnacle of beauty.
Cheap food, big portions, larger AmericansFood…

December 1st, 2002
Embrace Those Moments

When I was young and na�ve and honestly thought that little girls who could not add or subtract in their heads could grow up to become astronauts, I presented significant sums of allowance to NASA Line , an 1-900 number that allowed the dialee to eavesdrop on Houston-astronaut chatter during space shuttle missions. Occasionally a commentator would break in to translate the flying acronyms.
Imagine the yo-yo of horror and delight I shot through upon moving to Cape Canaveral when I discovered that what I had been listening to was the live audio track of NASA TV mission coverage, which I could now experience all day, every day�for free.
Always one to glut on over-information, NTV (for nothing is officially attached…

December 1st, 2002
Something Wrong at the Yuletide?

There’s something wrong here.
It’s December, and I am not only jacketless, but wearing shorts. I lived four years in South Bend, Indiana�December is loss of sensation in the lower extremities.
The lights started going up here in Cape Canaveral a week before Thanksgiving, the citizens hanging tinsel in sandals and tank tops. They twined lights along palm tree trunks and set up giant inflatable snowmen in sun-burned yards.
It’s 24 degrees in South Bend right now and an SUV is currently skidding through snowbanks on the television set. I have the air conditioning on.
There is something very wrong here.
Or maybe not wrong, but different. (Approximately fifty degrees of difference.) I think…

December 1st, 2002
A Young Dad on What to Do with the Kids for Advent

Passing down faith to my two teen and pre-teen kids is tough. Since I’m still figuring out the ropes myself, I’m sometimes limited in what I say or do to help them get charged up about the relentless pursuit of God (perhaps I should start by using different terms than “relentless” and “pursuit”).
A case in point is the Advent season, and how to make it relevant for them. It shouldn’t just be the few weeks in December before their Christmas break. Not on my watch, it won’t.
Although the Advent season (the four weeks or so before Christmas) and the Christmas story are rife with mysterious comings and goings, they still lend themselves to young audiences because they…

November 28th, 2002
A Supermarket Surplus Demands That We Share

Propped up against the wall of my tiny kitchen, absentmindedly chain eating Entenmanns’s chocolate chip cookies, I was engrossed in an article from the Catholic Worker about the life of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist order of priests.
As I shot my hand into the box for yet one more cookie, I was confronted with Bishop Liguori’s response to famine in 18th century Italy: “When people are hungry, everyone should fast.” Caught red-handed in the cookie box, I paused and looked from my hand to the paper and back again. There was no way to hide it; Alphonsus had busted me as Part Of The Problem.
For me, gluttony begins at the supermarket. Aisles upon bright aisles of choices,…

November 28th, 2002
The Agony of Living

Every time I attend a burial, the weather’s not good. Rain, cold, mud; the universe seems to provide a climate in tune with the mood of those gathered around the grave.
The rain returned this week as I stood in the mud and watched my brother-in-law’s aunt laid to rest. She was young, only 67, and entirely undeserving to be dead. Sprightly, bubbly, fun—pick any happy adjective and its meaning wouldn’t fully encompass the passion she had for life. I knew her for only a year but she had known me, through my sister, for a decade. When I finally met her last Christmas she folded me into her family as though we’d never been strangers.
So, this week, it was odd to stand near her grave. I knew her briefly…

November 28th, 2002
A Thanksgiving Story

You know the routine pretty well. Getting ready for Thanksgiving means much planning, shopping for a lot of food, and with me there was the over-achieving cooking for two days straight.
Thanksgiving was also a time when we made sure we invited friends to dinner who were far from their families. So we always ended up with a houseful of people—there was my girl friend the Puerto Rican New Yorker Buddhist, who always got into heated discussions with the Argentinean film student. At the table was also the six-foot-four Black musician who imitates the Muppets singing show tunes with my four-foot ten best friend, the daughter of a former ambassador. My single friends made a pretty nice Thanksgiving picture, not quite…

November 26th, 2002
A Lesson in Checking Your Nostalgia

Yes, it’s official. Freddy’s dead. That’s what I said. This is the story of how I was painfully notified.
I was planning to call my cousin Jim to wish him Happy Birthday. Rather than do something traditional, like yawn through the garden-variety version of “Happy Birthday,” I thought it would be better to sing it like Fred Flinstone’s Water Buffalo lodge buddies sang “Happy Anniversary” to him and Wilma. Surely you recall that episode? It went a little something like this:
“Happy anni-versa-ry. Happy anni-versa-ry. Happy anni-versa-ry. Ha-ppy anniversary. Happy happy happy happy happy anniversary. Happy happy happy happy happy anniversary.…

November 23rd, 2002
Thanksgiving Was Not the Über-Holiday for Us

It is November, and I am barreling headlong into the end of the year. But first, I have to make it past the Thanksgiving table.
Growing up working-class and Filipino here in the U.S., Thanksgiving has never felt to me like a real holiday. Or rather, it has never as big a deal to me as to my Anglo and African-American friends, whose families have lived here for generations. Not because it’s a secular holiday with its own mythology, because it’s easy enough to give it a religious backdrop. You could even say that, as Catholics, we celebrate Thanksgiving at every Mass; after all, that’s what Eucharist means.
In our house, though, Thanksgiving was just another day off from school or work. We really could…

November 23rd, 2002
Honoring God's Gift Through the Practice of Yoga

Winter in Ontario and I couldn’t touch my toes. I was plopped on the kitchen floor, legs spread in a ‘V’ and hands stretched towards my feet. My spine was stiff. My muscles ached. I stared at my ankles and thought, ‘This cannot go on.’
It wasn’t that I was out of shape. Rather, it was another Canadian January and the snow and cold had kept me indoors. With the exception of skating, I hadn’t been active and my body was beginning to slow. My limbs were tight. That morning, when I tried to stretch and could not, I knew I needed help. I needed yoga.
Yoga who?
Yoga is an ancient Indian exercise that incorporates controlled stretching postures and deep breathing to tone the body and soothe…

November 20th, 2002
Women with and without Kids

Most women raise children. And some don’t. Those of us who don’t set sail for a different kind of life. Is the journey a chosen one or not? Are you a woman if you don’t have kids?
For Denise Carlson not having children was something that just happened. She traveled, focused on her career, was involved in theatre for a long time. In Los Angeles, she currently develops movies for the Disney Channel. Her 20s and 30s whizzed by.
“I’ve had a great time,” Denise says. “I got to have an extended youth. I didn’t have to take care of anyone but myself.”
Saying she’s a late bloomer, the mother question now tugs at her. After a friend adopted, she started thinking…

November 20th, 2002
Recent Immigrants Remember Their First Thanksgiving

Like the original Pilgrims who were themselves newcomers to this continent, Thanksgiving is best understood through the eyes of more recent immigrants hundreds of years later.
My Cuban dad says he liked the holiday from the start. A young man in his early 20s, he was living with his family in Georgia after they left Cuba because of political turmoil. During his first Thanksgiving more than 40 years ago, volunteers from their new parish knocked on the door. In their hands they carried a turkey and a basket of goodies.
“I immediately liked Thanksgiving,” says my dad, Manuel Hidalgo. Free food!
More importantly for my father, the food was brought by people who were welcoming him and his family to their…

November 20th, 2002
pc muñoz and the amen corner a good deed in a weary world (beevine records)

What is a good deed? What’s the point of trying to be good in a world that’s clearly a mess? And how do you even begin to do that?
These are the themes that pc muñoz and the amen corner tackle in this, their third CD. This San Francisco-based music collective cook up a provocative—if uneven—stew of spoken-word, funk, gospel, and experimental electronics that gets your head bobbin’ to the beat and nodding thoughtfully to the lyrics too.
The CD takes the form of songs interspersed with or introduced by spoken word snippets that seem to be excerpts of man-on-the-street interviews. Average people are asked: what is a good deed? And then a song follows, as if to illuminate the thought just offered.…

November 20th, 2002
Women with and without Kids

Most women raise children. And some don’t. Those of us who don’t set sail for a different kind of life. Is the journey a chosen one or not? Are you a woman if you don’t have kids?
For Denise Carlson not having children was something that just happened. She traveled, focused on her career, was involved in theatre for a long time. In Los Angeles, she currently develops movies for the Disney Channel. Her 20s and 30s whizzed by.
“I’ve had a great time,” Denise says. “I got to have an extended youth. I didn’t have to take care of anyone but myself.”
Saying she’s a late bloomer, the mother question now tugs at her. After a friend adopted, she started thinking…

November 19th, 2002
Across the Lines Beer Unites Us

Some people hate it, some people love it.
Some people call it an evil in our society, while others revel in it.
No, I am not talking about reality television. I am talking about that usually amber liquid known as beer.
About a month ago, around the world, people celebrated this wondrous concoction during the Oktoberfest celebration. In the spirit of those festivities, I am not going to write about the history of beer. Nor will I write any in-depth analysis of how it is brewed. Finally, I won’t even write about the differences between the various forms that this elixir can take. Rather I will keep this simply to why I personally enjoy the “fruit of the hops.”
Now, being of Irish heritage, some may claim…

November 16th, 2002
Homecoming Weekend

It seems like most couples get a “pass” during the first year of married life. This is the time when they simply get to know each other, spend time together, laugh, enjoy each other’s company. There are fewer responsibilities, and children haven’t entered the picture yet; the couple is free to discover and have fun. It’s the honeymoon period.
Our first six months of marriage, on the other hand, have been characterized by continual hospital visits. Shortly after our wedding, Mike’s mom was given a 30% chance to live, and had to undergo some very serious surgery. Marion’s dad then had open-heart surgery. Her grandmother had some heart problems that landed her in the…

November 11th, 2002
A Chilean Community's New Home for Poor Seniors

Pride pulsated through my veins, turning me into a third-grader with Attention Deficit Disorder as I anticipated the inauguration of the Casa Acogida (“Hospitality House”). The house is a project that was four years in the making—an alternative to the substandard rooms (wooden walls and dirt floors) that elderly adults who come to my center often call home. Full of vivid colors and intricate ornaments, the house is a refurbished beauty that ten abuelos will eventually call their own. The only missing aspect of the project is a non-elderly resident in charge of the daily routine of the new community.
The Hogar de Cristo (“Christ’s Home“), the social service agency where I…

November 7th, 2002
Beyond Empty Calories to Real Spiritual Sustenance

Oatmeal is not a favorite food of two-year-olds. Mine wasn’t too thrilled to see it arrive on the breakfast table this morning. He ate grudgingly, intermittent spoonfuls hitting the table and floor. I cajoled it into him, bite by bite, nudging the bowl back every time he pushed it away.
It would have been a lot less hassle just to slap a box of Reese Puffs or a couple of those frosted toaster treats in front of the kid. Or any other of those morning-time goodies that fill our supermarkets, such as breakfast pizza or one of those frosted, sugar-dipped, marshmallow-laden “cereals” always prancing across our TV screens. All fast, easy, and purportedly tasty, at least to kids.
Junky breakfast food…

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