Busted Halo
January 2nd, 2003
New Year's Day Was Just Another Day

I call them desert experiences because they leave me feeling so barren.
New Year’s Day at Campus , where I work, was the saddest day I’ve spent there. That day a frigid rain fell and none of the participants had much joy or happiness to offer, which they usually do, at least more than a person might expect.
I saw too many new faces, including an exhausted prostitute who, after napping for a couple of hours, head nestled in arms and bent over an old desk, was escorted outside by a man. She wore only a small skirt that barely covered her thighs and a thin leather coat—not enough to keep her warm.
Since the Monday before Christmas, the tables and chairs and structure of the day room had been replaced with rows of…

January 2nd, 2003
The Oft Forgot Epiphany Celebration, Wise Men and All

Ever had a revelation? Ever, in the middle of everything ordinary, touched the depths of what is mystery ?
Despite the post-New Year hangovers, this is just the time for revelations.
According to ancient tradition, the 6th of January is the Christian feast of the Epiphany (Día de los reyes in Spanish)—celebrated Sunday, January 4 by Catholics and most Protestants in the U.S. and Canada. The word epiphany means “revelation” or “manifestation.”
The historical dirt
The early Christian origins of this feast are shrouded in mystery, but we know it came before Christmas, and scholars believe it was originally some kind of celebration of Jesus’ glory , probably at his baptism…

January 1st, 2003
The Humanity of Patty Griffin's Musical World

Opening Patty Griffin’s newest album Mil Besos (“1000 Kisses”) was like opening a book that I wanted to read in one sitting. And I did. I cued the CD player, wrestled the booklet from its case, and opened to the lyrics of the first song, listening until the album was through.
Griffin writes words that make her listeners pay careful attention as she gives voice to stories of quiet pain and dignity. She inhabits the heartbroken, the misunderstood, the lost, the lonely, the unabashedly lovesick, the vulnerable, and the grieving; and renders them proud and unforgettable. She does so with striking melodies and beautiful instrumentation. She makes me cry. She makes me fantasize about accordion…

December 31st, 2002
A Different Way to Spend New Year's Eve

I lifted my head off the pillow: The clock read 12:27 AM. I pumped one fist in the air: Yes! I had done it. I had?avoided New Year’s Eve.
This, then, was rock bottom. It was even worse than New Year’s Eve 1997. That was four days after a tonsillectomy. I had cradled my throbbing ears (your ears do hurt after a tonsillectomy?as I discovered, the difficult way, it’s all connected up there), begging God for the approach of midnight. Not that I could barely wait to usher in a brand new year, but four hours had passed since my last codeine dose, and it was time for a beautiful new pill.
A new strategy
This time I arrived at rock bottom courtesy of a very serious ex, who had very seriously dumped me. New Year’s…

December 28th, 2002
Greed and the Dr. Atkins Diet

Since moving to Florida, I have gained thirteen pounds. Perhaps it’s the stress of the move. Perhaps I’m scared and alone and subconsciously seek to fill the void with food. Perhaps it’s the fact that for the past six months I have been, on a somewhat regular basis, eating an entire pizza then falling directly into bed. You be the judge.
However they got there, they are there nonetheless: thirteen lumpy, pants-tightening pounds. At first I attempted to convince myself that the scales in the NASA heath center were somehow miscalibrated (these people have designed a four-ton crane that can rest its cargo on the shell of an egg. I think they can handle a bathroom scale.) One day, however, I noticed…

December 25th, 2002
A World of Traditions for Welcoming the Savior

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic-Throughout the years people from diverse cultures have developed many festive customs in preparation for Christmas. Among the most popular back home in the U.S. are putting up the Christmas tree, stringing lights outside the home or apartment, watching favorite animated videos, Christmas caroling, and sending annual Christmas cards to family and friends.
Other cultural traditions focus on gathering with family and friends in anticipation of the arrival of Jesus the Savior into the world.
The Mexican celebration of Las Posadas commemorates Mary and Joseph looking for a place to sleep in Bethlehem. Posadas means lodging. From Dec. 16 to Dec. 24, people process through…

December 25th, 2002
Holiday Stress and Our Great Expectations

When did this happen?
Sometime between donning my grade school uniform and slapping on my work uniform, toting up another day on the Advent calendar became not a cause for celebration but a very good reason to wince. Another day closer. Another day of failing to get it all done.
The Christmas cards are complete, all right: completely in the box, unwritten, unaddressed, unrelentingly guilt-inducing. I have been in this apartment since July and am still stepping around boxes. Your card will arrive sometime around the end of the Bush administration. I’m the only person in America whose poinsettia rests on the stove’s left front burner.
The cookies are in elemental form. Flour. Eggs. Sugar. I forget…

December 25th, 2002
Men and Women and the Perils of Gift Giving

There’s nothing like cheap impersonal crap for Christmas, is there?
A buddy of mine once worked at a company that at the corporate Christmas party proudly presented to each and every employee�an extension cord. Well, hoop de holly. At least it beat the previous year’s gift, which was a wall clock featuring the company logo.
They say that it’s the thought that counts�and that’s the point. Tempting, isn’t it, to sail down the aisle at Walgreen’s on December 23 and grab the first battery-operated gyrating Elvis in a Santa hat you see. But if you’re going to run through a mall and snatch up the first plastic angel statue you see just because you “need”…

December 25th, 2002
The Pressures of the Holidays for Recovering Alcoholics

Many people have mixed emotions about the holidays. Families separated the entire year are thrust together again under difficult circumstances. Old wounds and resentments resurface. Relatives with whom we have limited contact and conversation suddenly appear in Aunt Sherry’s kitchen on Christmas Day. Siblings tolerate each other while distant parents and relatives share superficial small talk. Such situations and family gatherings can be particularly challenging for people who practice twelve-step recovery programs.
And doesn’t it seem like everyone wants to hand you a drink?
Get thee to a meeting
The recovery program of which I am a member is Alcoholics Anonymous . I find it necessary…

December 23rd, 2002
The Unconditional Heart of Yuletide Lunacy

My father is never satisfied with the trees my mother hauls home from the gas station Christmas tree lot. Every year he produces the garden shears and goes about pruning. No one bothers trying to stop him anymore. We gather to watch dismembered tree pieces fall to the living room floor and agree when he says the thing looks much better. When he wanders off we fill the gaping holes with tinsel and reminisce about the time he broke out the saw.
Norman Rockwell doesn’t live hereIn my family, we don’t have Christmas traditions so much as recurring patterns of well-established holiday behavior we have all come to expect. Like my mother corralling all seven of her unwilling kids down to the Styrofoam Santa Castle…

December 14th, 2002
The Economic Winners in a Conflict with Iraq

Who will be the benefactors of any war on Iraq ?
The winners are all about past relationships. And where President George W. Bush’s administration is concerned, those past relationships are measured in barrels of crude oil.
Take Condoleezza Rice , our nation’s current National Security Advisor. Rice owns the distinction of being the only cabinet member ever to have an oil tanker named after her. This honor comes from her spending a decade on the board of the Chevron Corporation . Such close relationships between the senior staff in the Bush administration and the oil industry are a hallmark of G.W.’s presidency.
Big oil interests will reap the benefits of war. And taxpayers will pay for their…

December 13th, 2002

This morning in Rome it was announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston. This brings to an end one part of the yearlong priest sex scandal in the Catholic Church, especially as it has been centered in Boston. Cardinal Law had been shown in various court documents and depositions to have knowingly reassigned to other parishes priests accused of molesting children and teenagers. Once reassigned many struck again.
In the Cardinal’s remarks at the time of his resignation, he apologized for this and asked the forgiveness of the people of Boston.
For many months, increasing numbers of Catholic laypeople, priests, and public officials had called for…

December 13th, 2002
Special to BustedHalo.com

December 13—This morning in Rome it was announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston. This brings to an end one part of the yearlong priest sex scandal in the Catholic Church, especially as it has been centered in Boston. Cardinal Law had been shown in various court documents and depositions to have knowingly reassigned to other parishes priests accused of molesting children and teenagers. Once reassigned many struck again.
In the Cardinal’s at the time of his resignation, he apologized for this and asked the forgiveness of the people of Boston.
For many months, increasing numbers of Catholic laypeople, priests, and public officials had called…

December 13th, 2002

There I was, driving down the road with my teenage son in the front seat and my daughter and her friend Lauren in the back. Lauren says to my daughter: “How old were you when you found out Santa Claus was your parents?”
My son didn’t say much, but my daughter (who is younger than he) admitted that she began to suspect years ago, when she recognized that the wrapping paper on one of her gifts suspiciously matched some she had seen in our closet. We went on to talk about the Tooth Fairy, and in spite of my futile attempts to explain things and salvage the remaining shreds of childhood innocence (theirs AND mine), I was able to keep driving without veering off the road over an embankment. But just barely.

December 9th, 2002
Old Holiday Cartoon Specials and Materialist Madness

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to Christmas, I am one big, wishy-washy mess. Christmas, to me, is what Disney World is to some other adults—a time and place where I become a kid again. In that spirit, I celebrate as if I were still running around in my pajamas with the feet and licking the 22-cent stamp for my letter to Santa.
As part of the return-to-my-childhood Yuletide traditions, I like to throw on some flannel pajamas, make some hot cocoa, and dig out the old videotape of Christmas cartoons that has collected a little dust during the past year.
This year, as I curled up and warmed my hands on my reindeer mug, I had a new thought: What lessons are taught in these cartoons? Will I want my kids to watch them?…

December 6th, 2002
Love As Speed Bump on the Road of Faith

Phew. What a relief—at 24, I finally had it all figured out. I mean, how difficult could this whole religion and God thing be? Well, it turns out that I had a lot more to learn.
As this crazy year starts to come to an end, I look back at where my faith journey has taken me and let me tell you, it’s quite the roller coaster. It was a ride that I would gladly take again though.
Spiritually out of whack I had come to the realization that I was not happy with my relationship with God or my relationship with the Catholic Church. But instead of pushing it away, I decided to dive in headfirst. In order to fix it, I knew that I had to pinpoint exactly what was leaving me feeling dissatisfied.
Well, the first thing that I recognized was…

December 5th, 2002

I was sentenced to an alarm clock and cold cereal on my first day of kindergarten. I dressed myself, rode my bike to summer activities, and took the yellow bus to school until I got my driver’s license. I was raised to be independent and thrive on it.
Entering the adult world of college and full time employment, I was already accustomed to doing things on my own, usually out of necessity—others are too busy, convenience, schedule. But when seven people attempt to exist in an intentional community (like that of my Jesuit Volunteer Corps house), independent action is like trying to pick up a bowling ball with a standard table spoon.
Here’s what I mean. In mid-October, I was purposely elusive about a speaking…

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…

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