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October 27th, 2009
A conversation on celebrity, race, pedophilia and the Church sex abuse scandal

The sudden death of Michael Jackson this past summer took the world by surprise and led to spontaneous fan tributes around the globe and countless conversations about the King of Pop’s place in popular culture. Many of those conversations are bound to be revisited with the release this week of This Is It…, a film that promises behind the scenes footage of Jackson’s final days as he was preparing for sold out London concerts. While many of the discussions sparked by his passing have dealt with his enormous talent (and his equally enormous strangeness), his ever-shifting appearance, the charges of pedophilia and the issue of race, we are fairly certain that the conversation that erupted in the Busted

October 25th, 2009
The recent Sedona sweat lodge tragedy highlights some dangers in our obsession with self help

What would you do for spiritual enlightenment and personal success? Would you agree to spend 36 hours alone in the desert without food or water to help clear your mind and find your true potential? Would you follow a trusted leader into a dark, hot tent to experience a version of a centuries-old Native American sweat lodge ritual? History shows that in the name of self-help, many people will do just that — and more.
Three people died and more than a dozen others were injured as a result of an Oct. 8 retreat in Sedona, Arizona, led by James Arthur Ray, a nationally known self-help guru. According to interviews with participants and their family members, more than 50 people — within hours of returning from a desert “vision…

October 21st, 2009
Artists in a provocative new show at a Catholic church discuss art, God and religion

Throughout the side chapels and the interior of St. Paul the Apostle Church in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, the historically significant artwork on permanent display now shares space with a compelling and eclectic mix of contemporary pieces. God Doesn’t Like Ugly, as the exhibition is titled, is the third major group exhibition presented by Openings, an international art movement based out of New York — and sponsored by the Paulist Fathers — in which artists explore the connection between their creativity and spirituality. This year’s exhibition, which is free and runs until October 30, represents the work of fifteen artists, who were invited to address the show’s…

October 20th, 2009
"I have no desire to be in this country."

In this final episode, Prerna talks about the repercussions of leaving Fiji and why she continues to stay and work in the U.S.
In video six, Prerna discusses the fallout with her family, community and school as a result of her new relationship.
In video five, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 20th, 2009
"I was so numb that I couldn't even cry."

In this sixth video, Prerna discusses the fallout with her family, community and school as a result of her new relationship.
In video five, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 20th, 2009
LeBron James' childhood coach and mentor discusses family, faith and why basketball is truly More Than a Game

In the white-hot glare of worldwide celebrity there are no shadows, there are only outsized figures of triumph or scorn. They are presented to us as fully formed creations, media amplified surfaces without depth who occupy our fantasies until something else inevitably takes their place. This strange and rare sort of fame — which basketball phenom LeBron James enjoys — generally obscures the flesh and blood reality behind the image. A great deal of the power behind Kristopher Belman’s documentary More Than a Game… comes from its ability to trace James’ career back to the time when he was an 11-year-old AAU basketball player, back to the Salvation Army gym in Akron, Ohio, where he befriended

October 19th, 2009
Letting go of our burdens

We’ve all heard the jokes. Ever since the term “baggage” entered popular use thanks to the 80s inner child movement, it’s been both a warning — “I have a lot of baggage” — and a punchline.
Example: A few weeks ago on Jay Mohr’s sitcom, Gary Unmarried…, before he meets his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, she says: “And I really like him, so please don’t make that joke about how his strong grip will come in handy when he’s carrying all my baggage, OK?”
The broad definition of baggage is: something from the past that continues to weigh you down.
Christine used the word “fraught” in last week’s excellent column

October 16th, 2009
A Catholic Relief Services worker in Indonesia

I’m an information officer for Catholic Relief Services in Asia. This past month, we’ve had our hands full keeping up with the string of natural disasters that has hit the region. From my home base in Cambodia, I was sent to the Philippines to cover our response to severe flooding; then an earthquake hit Sumatra — one of the islands that make up Indonesia, so I caught a plane to Padang, the city closet to the quake’s epicenter.
I was new to extreme quake damage — its dangers and surprises. The first week of any emergency is usually the toughest; I’ve recorded my impressions of the experience.

Day One
The first sign of trouble is at the airport in Padang, Indonesia: there’s no water…

October 15th, 2009
"We fell in love with each other."

In this fifth video, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 13th, 2009
Busted Halo's daily dose of spiritual wisdom and action

When we launched our Fast Pray Give calendar this past Lent, we quickly learned that our readers really loved checking back each day for the little piece of inspiration or information we offered, as well as the small spiritual challenge we gave them along with it. In the midst of their busy lives, people were attracted to the idea of carving out a moment of spiritual contemplation, and coupling it with a meaningful — and very doable — action.
With that discovery in mind, we decided to develop our “Daily Jolt.” Beginning today, Busted Halo will offer a very brief daily insight or inspiration in text, video or audio form on our homepage — and through our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page…

October 13th, 2009
Among women, relationships can get complicated

“We need to talk.”
The four dreaded words that strike fear into all of us. “We need to talk” is almost never the start of a fun conversation. It’s usually about how you’ve done something wrong. Or how the relationship isn’t working for the other person. And while we all dread those four little words in our romantic relationships, I’d argue that hearing them from your best friend is even worse.
I hate drama within friendships. I firmly believe they should be easy relationships. If a friend calls to cancel lunch at the last minute, I don’t immediately think it’s about me. She’s busy; we’ll reschedule; it’s fine. And I assume my…

October 8th, 2009
Ministry and connection in 140 words or less

Religion has found Twitter, the 3-year-old web service that allows people to dish on their daily lives in 140 characters or less. Increasingly, monks, nuns, pastors, rabbis and followers of all faiths are using Twitter as a means of spreading their faith, talking about faith-related news stories, connecting with their congregations and sending their prayers into cyberspace. Consider the following:
Each morning and evening on Twitter, @TheUrbanAbbey has prayer services in 140-character bites. The monastery without walls included this prayer in a recent morning service: “Giver of the present, hope for the future: save us from the time of trial. When prophets warn of doom, free us from our helplessness.”…

October 6th, 2009
The Biblical Thanksgiving

Each fall, Jews celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, named after the “huts” the Jewish people lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness. Sukkot begins on the night of the largest full moon of the year, the harvest moon. This year it began at sundown on Friday, October 2, and runs through October 10. As a celebration of the year’s largest harvest, Sukkot reminds us to give thanks. The American Pilgrims understood this biblical significance of Sukkot, and made it the basis for Thanksgiving.
Tradition calls us to “live” for a week in a sukkah (sukkot… is the plural form) — a hut, open to the sky, with some leaves for a roof. (Eating meals there can qualify for “living,”

October 6th, 2009
"You can't spell dream without drama"

In this fourth video, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 4th, 2009
You won't miss anything important

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I don’t mean to put anyone out of work in this difficult economy — I even have several friends in this profession — but I implore you to turn off the news and leave it off. Mainly, I want you to turn off the local news, where “if it bleeds, it leads” and the priority, after titillating you with gore, is to scare you — because they thrive if we think we have to watch or we’ll die.

There are a number of reasons I recommend turning off the news. First, life is stressful enough already. Who needs this? Second, if you are powerless over something, there’s usually no benefit in worrying about it. Third, exposing yourself regularly to the ugliest aspects of society darkens and coarsens your view of other people, which takes you away from compassion and love, and thus away from God. It undermines your spiritual fitness.

Rather than helping us better to mourn — to see the suffering in the world with an open heart — watching the news regularly hardens our hearts. In order to face so much suffering with no option of relevant action, we detach from it; we tune it out, if you will.

October 3rd, 2009
Making my peace with the blessing of the animals

If you’ve ever seen dog owners walking to church with their pooches in ridiculous outfits, sprayed with doggie perfume and a bow in their fur you’ve stumbled upon the annual “blessing of the animals” on the Feast Day of St Francis, October 4. In years past I witnessed one woman’s dog in a top hat and tails. Another dressed in a doggy business suit. A third looked like a clown (both dog and master).
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I overheard conversations in the pews about how smart their silly mutt was and how much love they received coming home to the wagging tail that greeted them at the door. Owners shared recipes about what they cook for their pets, talked about what…

October 2nd, 2009
"We don't want to lose our home"

In this third video, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 1st, 2009
A Catholic dog stirs imagination and caring in western North Carolina

A seeing eye puppy in training at church

My dog Lily is a therapy dog, meaning that she is trained to bring companionship to the lonely, comfort to the sorrowful and joy to the depressed, just for that moment. Together, we visit nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions where people may benefit from Lily’s presence.

Lily got a lot of her early training to be a therapy dog by going to weekday Mass with me as a puppy. Our little mountain parish in western North Carolina is small and everyone enjoys her presence. Lily learned how to greet friends nicely; how to wait to greet them until she was instructed to do so; how to sit quietly by my side; and how to stay while I went to communion. She doesn’t go on Sundays, just weekdays.

We leave Mass and go directly to the nursing home where we take communion to a few residents, and she visits everyone. Mass puts her in the right frame of mind and behavior for the visit — and I always said she carried an extra bit of grace with her. She’s been working about eight years.

We are always greeted enthusiastically at the nursing home — though with some odd misunderstandings. Our area is largely Baptist, and the presence of a Catholic dog can stir the imagination.

September 30th, 2009
Winning the battle over childhood obesity

It may have been the most incriminating moment of my childhood.
The culprit: one chubby eight-year-old (me).
The accomplice: a sympathetic classmate-slash-junk-food smuggler.
The goods: a bag of Doritos.
The teacher caught me — and the entire class’s attention — when she asked me to stop eating and turn to face her. “Krissy,” she said. “Your parents and your doctor don’t want you eating that.” Then, her words wailed in my ears like sirens:
“You’re on a diet.”
I dropped my head and rolled up the bag as the class stared in shock. Just like that, I was busted. Orange-handed.
My grandfather had just died. He and I had been super-close and without…

September 29th, 2009
Opening up to God through meditation

As a child, I yearned to be good. Not just pleasant-table-manners good, but profound, give-away-all-your-belongings-like-St.-Francis good. This may surprise anyone who knew me back then, since I appeared to be a competitive, selfish, critical little pill of a girl, but that’s the story of my life: I want to be good and I don’t know how.
I don’t mean that I don’t know what actions are good. That’s usually clear enough: be honest, be kind, help others, and share what you have. The difficult part is how to be the type of person who really is… good, who has good impulses, who wants to be good. How do you become more compassionate, more kindly, and more patient? How do you transform yourself

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