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May 28th, 2002
How much money should the Catholic Church pay, or not pay, to settle current sex abuse claims?

How about $0?
Now, before you get into your car and head over to my place to tar and feather me, please rest assured that I, like you, believe that the Catholic Church owes a very great deal to every victim of sex abuse. I just happen to think that cash is a fast and easy way out for the Church and its victims.
By the same token, it seems to me that any cash settlement will neither erase the pain nor simplify the spiritual lives of those affected.
When has the doling out of cash ever promoted healing?
Somehow, with all this talk of millions, it seems that spirituality, compassion, and God have all been shoved to the wings. Instead of an honest attempt at seeking change in the way it enriches the lives of its parishioners, we now have…

May 19th, 2002

“Waiting for Star Wars is an art project designed to capture the evolution and journey of one person’s wait for a single event?”
– Jeff Tweiten and John Guth, two guys who waited four and one-half months in line for Star Wars Episode II.
This article is about fanaticism. Or should I say extreme behavior? Dare I say?insanity? Of course, I’m not talking about the type of fanaticism which would cause one person to harm another. We all know that’s wrong. I’m talking about taking a simple interest, nurturing it, feeding it, until ? before you know it ? it grows into it’s own potentially frightening entity with a mind, heart and soul all its own.
If you’re lucky,…

May 18th, 2002

I still have the family tree that I made for a sixth-grade social studies class. The last time that I saw it was when my family moved to a new house 2 years ago. I was helping my parents with the daunting task of packing up all of the endless knick-knacks that had accumulated over 12 years. Behind a shelf in my old room, I found the treasured project on which I had worked so hard. My poor family tree was all tattered and a bit faded, but it still made me smile. I recall bursting with pride when I had finished that poster.
Actually, my tree wasn’t really a “tree” at all. I wanted to be different, so I had made my family’s history fit inside the image of a large hot air balloon. The title of the tree was ”…

May 15th, 2002

Having once been a “Johnist”, I’ve recently converted and become a “Paulist.” No, not that kind of Paulist. I’ve always been a huge Beatles fan. So recently, when I took my son to see Paul McCartney at the Pond in Anaheim, California, I knew that this was likely to be the closest I’d ever get to a Beatles concert. For that reason alone, it was going to be a religious experience for me. I just never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I did.
For quite a while, I’ve been wanting to crash a concert. Whenever I go to a show, there always seems
to be people selling extra tickets. Even though the Paul McCartney show was sold out and it was the last date he was playing in my area,…

May 10th, 2002
While You're Away

Recently, I (Mike) had to go away for a few days on business. It was the first time Marion and I had spent time away from each other since the wedding. While I (Mike) was kept busy and distracted from missing Marion with the demands of the conference I was attending, the experience was quite different for Marion.
Of course I (Marion) had been away from Mike before. The last time Mike was away was when we were planning the wedding. That particular weekend my sister called me five or six times to keep me distracted, asking me questions about the wedding. This time it felt different. We always get to re-connect at the end of our day. Mike and I always have dinner together and talk about the day’s events. There was one day…

May 5th, 2002
"Hey! Where the hell'd you learn to drive?"

The man in the grey van pulled alongside me as I made my way across the parking lot. The permanent plates on my rental car said otherwise, but I was a visitor here, at the end of long and horrible day. I was currently lost for the 857th time in a twenty-four hour period, and the near-miss I’d just had with the van while I was searching out a street sign was the last in a long series of delights not mentioned in the travel brochures.
I walked on, staring straight ahead; color me paranoid, but engaging in conversations with angry, van-driving men who follow me into dark parking lots does not qualify as a tremendously smart safety move.
He continued to glide along next to me. “F—ing can’t-drive whore…

May 3rd, 2002
It Takes Someone Special to Be a Dad

Daddy always gets the big piece of chicken.
At least that’s what Chris Rock says. In a recent comedy routine, Rock stated that moms always get better presents on Mother’s Day than any dad gets on Father’s Day.
“Everything’s always for the mommy. ‘Did you tell Mommy how good she looks?’ ‘Did you get Mommy something nice for Mother’s Day?’ Everything’s for the mommy. The only thing daddy ever gets is the big piece of chicken!”
Dads really are unappreciated sometimes. Rock said in the same routine that nobody ever says, “Hey Dad, thanks for knocking out the rent this month!”
Mike’s dad has this quiet confidence.…

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,…

May 1st, 2002
Winging It: Meditations of a Young Adult (Orbis Books)

A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. -JOSEPH HELLER
I just received an invitation to a wedding in India from a woman I stayed with in Calcutta nearly seven years ago. Her youngest son is getting married, and she said it would mean a lot if I could come.
I chuckle aloud as I open the envelope, because I can’t help but remember that episode from Seinfeld when Elaine is invited to her friend’s wedding in India. She shows up to spite the friend she thinks doesn’t really want her there and discovers that the groom is her former lover.
The image of Elaine, drunk, with the nose ring, reminds me of the photo I took with two petite Indian woman. Towering over them…

April 30th, 2002
Remembering and Celebrating on Our First Anniversary

It’s been a year since we took that walk down the aisle. We’ve had a year filled with happiness, but it’s also been a difficult year because Mike’s mom spent half the year in the hospital and Marion’s grandmother has had her share of health problems as well.
In our first year we learned that marriage is about two people who are there to support one another no matter what comes their way. It’s about commitment, making a conscious decision to love your partner despite the difficulties.
The big day Our anniversary day was reminiscent of our wedding day. We went to the restaurant where our wedding reception was held, and we were filled with the memories of our special day. We even looked…

April 29th, 2002
Finding meaning under the covers

A year ago, my favorite morning ritual was to sit on my porch, drink coffee, and wave to the sad university students strolling to 8:30 classes. Then, I got married. I moved far away from my porch and surrendered coffee for green tea. One dawn, as I lay under the covers, I realized: I need a new routine. Then, I rolled over, snuggled into my husband’s warm hug, and found it.
It’s great: the alarm chirps, I roll towards Steve, and Steve hugs me. We lie together for a half hour, chatting and dozing and just passing time. He kisses my forehead. I stroke his hair. We talk of crazy dreams and plans for the day and, invariably, check the clock. We get up. He showers. I boil water. By the time we sit down for breakfast, I want…

April 28th, 2002
Tangerines and Transformations

Volunteering to teach confirmation classes at my mid-town Los Angeles parish is challenging work. Let’s face it, most teens sign up for the two year, twice-a-month program, because it’s SUPER important to their parents, while hardly registering as something to care about for themselves.
First ingredient: Vitamin J
So my pastor and I started out with a disadvantage only good teen snacks could remedy-Tostitos, Fritos, Cheetos, cookies, hot chocolate, Snapple, sodas, tangerines (requested), spring water (also requested). These are the paths to a young person’s soul.
Okay, maybe more than snacks are involved. It helps that teens are intensely social and eventually figure out who likes…

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 20th, 2002
Wishing you many happy years together...

Mike and Marion Perracchio pronounced their wedding vows at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 20th, in New York City. Their column will be returning soon, but here are a few wedding photos:…

April 20th, 2002
The Wedding of the Year

April 20th–Our big day. All the preparation was done and our day had finally arrived.
Marion had a whole morning of preparation with her bridal party. “We all gathered in my sister Vera’s room, at the hotel and had fun laughing and talking while our hair was being done.” Vera gave Marion their mother’s Communion and Confirmation prayer books that were family keepsakes for many years. (Marion’s mom died when she was in college) This gift moved both Marion and Vera so much that they both started crying.
Mike and his best man, Crash (as he is known), stayed overnight at the parish rectory (courtesy of Fr. Brett) the night before the wedding. They were able to wake up and get all of those…

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 12th, 2002
A College Student's Spiritual Journey from Minnesota to Thailand

Ever since growing up in Frazee, Minnesota, a small town with a population of 1,700 people, and living next to two Lao families, I had a dream of going to the Thailand/Laos. (Similarly, both peoples actually stem from the same group of people called the Tai Yay.) The two Lao families lived next door from when I was six until I was thirteen when they had to move away. During this time,
I was best friends with the children of both families. I spent my days at their houses, ate with them, watched Thai and Lao movies and concerts, joined in on their traditional ceremonies, and they would teach me a Lao word a day. That was the start of my love for the Thai/Lao language and culture. Ever since then, my Thai/Lao roots have kept popping…

April 6th, 2002
Justly Revisited

It was until my freshman year in college that I read the book “Farewell to Manzanar” – the true account of a Japanese-American family’s struggle as prisoners in a U.S. internment camp during WW II. That book, authored by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston , was forever seared into my memory for it proved that any government, no matter how democratic or well meaning, is possible of acting unjustly. And though WW II and the order to intern over 70,000 Japanese-American citizens seem like far-away history, the same capacity for unjust action is being revisited on Americans today.
This time those of Middle Eastern origin are being treated unjustly by a Justice Department intent…

April 6th, 2002
Past Pain Becomes Present Strength

He walked into the diner with his blue windbreaker and disheveled gray hair. His clothes were rumpled and his glasses were slightly askew. In short, he was a mess.
He sat in the booth directly behind us. The odor that emanated from him was bleach mixed with body sweat. It was impossible for us to finish our meal with the unappetizing stench.
I took a good look at the man. He looked to be in his seventies, balding, a bit weird. It was at that moment that I realized how much he reminded me of my dad.
The connection

While I know my dad can easily take care of himself, my uneducated Irish immigrant father has a few eccentricities that have embarrassed me over the years. I shudder sometimes when he launches into a story that everyone…

April 6th, 2002

We are all one cancer cell, car accident, or breath away from our own mortality. Many of us are one pay check, lay off, or serious illness away from bankruptcy, food stamps, even homelessness. Anything and everything can be taken away or drastically altered at any time. I don’t like to think about that part of my existence, but life forces me to look at reality. And sometimes real life hurts.
Tammi is my friend. She showed me what a family was when my family was torn apart. She helped me find faith in God when I lost faith in myself. She taught me how to accept the unacceptable when I thought my unborn baby would die. And she was there when my baby was born. She has watched him grow and loves him as her own. She gives more than…

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