Busted Halo
May 4th, 2004
A Chicago Play Captures Boston Clergy Sex Scandal As Tragedy

The scandal of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children is, after two years, still on the front pages of the nation’s papers. But playwright Michael Murphy, director David Zak, and the actors of Chicago’s Bailiwick Repertory Theatre have managed to give the story the feel of a classical tragedy.
SIN—A Cardinal Deposed is a two act drama distilled from transcripts of (now resigned) Boston archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law’s depositions taken between August 2002 and February 2003 in civil actions against priests of the Archdiocese of Boston. The Cardinal is portrayed (with remarkable fidelity to Law’s real-life mannerisms) by actor Jim Sherman.
SIN casts Law as a man of remarkable…

May 3rd, 2004
True tales from the pews #2

Fr. Jim Martin’s recent article recounting the worst homilies ever heard sent an all-too-familiar chill through my born and bred Catholic bones. Unfortunately, I’ve also sat in the pews many times thinking that I’d rather eat paste with kindergarten children than listen to another second of a preacher’s mindless drivel.
While I try to support my parish community as much as I can, I do so under certain conditions. I’ve determined that my family can afford to give $20 a week as our offering. (I’m a lay minister and my wife’s a teacher—you do the math.) But after sitting through countless bad sermons I decided to take matters into my own hands. Let’s face facts,…

May 3rd, 2004
Does the Almighty Bend an Ear to Prayers for Smarty Jones?

With a victory in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5, 2004, Smarty Jones will have captured horseracing’s most elusive prize—the Triple Crown. No horse has done it since 1978.
Certainly a prayer or two is in order. So maybe it’s not surprising that Smarty was recently blessed by a Philadelphia priest.
“I asked the Lord to give Smarty Jones good health, I asked Him to protect Smarty during the Belmont Stakes, and I asked Him to give Smarty the special gift of the Triple Crown,” said Father Thomas Homa. (Smarty probably thought, “Who are you, and why aren’t you feeding me anything?”)
Is this… necessary?
Haunted hoofprintsWell, it is the track—an inherently…

May 3rd, 2004
Confessing to Not Being in Your ‘Right' Mind

My biggest sin
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I last confessed on retreat a few weeks ago, but I unfortunately forgot one horrendous sin. I guess I didn’t realize how deeply in sin I was at the time (isn’t that always the case?)
I’m a Democrat.
Whew. It feels good to get this off my chest. I mean, I can deal with the fact that I often ignore the homeless on my way to work, and I’m glad the church isn’t thinking of refusing to give me communion because I think they’re dirty stinky people and I often don’t value their life as much as my own. But this Democrat thing….well I don’t quite know how I can ever expect God to forgive me of that.
How can I ever be worthy to receive…

May 1st, 2004
The Best Catholic Writing 2004

Robert Barron, a young priest and theologian, recently coined the phrase “beige Catholicism,” lamenting that Catholicism, in its effort to blend seamlessly into the fabric of American life is in danger of being stripped of its uniqueness, its color, and its vibrancy. Perhaps Barron is right. Maybe we are becoming kind of bland and beige, with all of our public image issues, our myopic family t?te-?-t?tes over scandals, church closings, and Communion politics. If in fact we are plagued by beige-ness, then the writers whose work is featured in The Best Catholic Writing 2004 (Loyola Press, 228 pages, $14.95), an anthology edited by University of Portland alumni magazine editor Brian Doyle, are…

April 19th, 2004
Do We Want That Instant, Antisocial High to Be Legal?

You lookin’ for common ground between the political Left and Right? Go to your local pot dealer.
You’ll find there the profit motive Republicans drool over, as well as the sybaritic pleasures Democrats long to embrace. You’ll also find a virtually untapped source of tax money to make both parties jitter.
Among my acquaintances, most people—regardless of political affiliation—tend to approve of marijuana’s legalization. The actual possibility of its legalization depends in large part on whether people find it morally or socially acceptable. Law follows culture.
If Prohibition didn’t work…People who favor legalization generally rely on the argument that marijuana…

April 18th, 2004
Home Real and Imagined

My job interview was less than a week away, and I needed shoes. Not only did I need shoes that would make me look responsible, adult, and employable, I also needed shoes that would cover the tattoo on my right foot.
I needed Leighann.
Leighann is one of my best friends, and we moved to New York at the same time. She supported me through such trials as my search for a “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, or last year’s Easter dress hunt that ended in us buying the exact same skirt (though vowing not to wear them at the same time). I knew Leighann would find a solution.
Unfortunately, Leighann now
lives 400 miles away. All I could do was call her for advice on where to look and ask her to pray for me.
It was a cold, rainy…

April 17th, 2004
Living with the Tensions of Unemployment

As my wedding day approaches, and looming responsibilities begin to appear on the horizon, I have become more aware of the fact that I need a real job.
Identity crisisThe idea of equating work with identity is so entrenched in the male psyche I find it hard to be content until I can answer the question, ‘So, what do you do?’ at parties without feeling the need to hang my head out of embarrassment.
I say I need a real job because I actually do have a job, working for a temp agency as a part time banquet server. I call Monday morning to get assignments for the week and get just enough hours to cover my rent and bills.
The dirt on meA few people have asked me recently what I ‘do’, and I tell them the truth: I clear dirty…

April 16th, 2004

“All of us had suffered greatly to get to this moment�I had eaten little and slept not at all since leaving Camp 2, two days earlier. Every time I coughed, the pain from my torn thoracic cartilidge felt like someone was jabbing a knife beneath my ribs and brought tears to my eyes. But if I wanted a crack at the summit, I knew that I had to ignore my infirmities and climb.”
-From Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
These are the words of the reporter who went on an expedition to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth at more than 29,000 feet! To many, this mountain is affectionately called “the roof of the world.” To hear Krakauer’s account, where several people paid thousands…

April 13th, 2004
Just Enough Comfort to Make Me Miss The Real Thing

Pop quiz, which is the biggest sin?
A) Missing Mass on Easter Sunday
B) Because you were out until five in the morning on Holy Saturday
C) Hooking up with a person you’d known for under an hour who was wearing a sunvisor. Inside. Backwards. At night.
All glory, laud, and honor
That is correct: I celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord by shaking it at a beachside bar until dawn, rolled in the sand with a guy I’d known exactly 45 minutes, slept through Easter morning, and had chocolate for lunch.
I did, however, access my partner’s full name, if not his street address (“Just to make sure we’re not related here? Great. Thanks. Okay, commence feeling me up.”)
See, it could have been…

April 13th, 2004
Spider-Man, the Punisher & the Ethics of Power

To those visiting theaters this summer but not part of the comic book crowd, Spider-Man (swinging in June 30, 2004) and The Punisher (onscreen April 16, 2004) will seem like two of a kind: tough guys who like to wear tights and take out the villains.
To regular readers, Spider-Man and the Punisher could not be more different.
Hero definitionTo Spider-Man, the Punisher’s violent vigilantism aggravates an already violent citywide crime culture; the Punisher sees Spider-Man as a weak-willed gadfly. Regular readers know that when these two meet, they will not likely be glad to see each other, for each has a radically different vision for how his power is to be used.
In the beginnings…High school student Peter…

April 12th, 2004
A young mid-westerner reflects on his summer in India

Calling it a “vacation” might be a bit of a stretch, but through his correspondence with friends back in the United States, 29-year-old, Minneapolis native Paul Lickteig offers up a refreshing variation on the old elementary school essay chestnut “what I did this summer.”
Lickteig, who is studying to become a Jesuit priest, recently returned from India where he worked and traveled from mid-June until the beginning of August. During that time he stayed in contact with friends through a series of emails in which he recounted his impressions of life there. Like a 21st century explorer’s email travelogue, Lickteig’s observations have the quality of urgent dispatches…

April 12th, 2004
Buddhist Monk Teaches Kindness, Compassion, and Christ

I never understood the washing of the feet.
For newcomers, an explanation: each Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there is a ritual washing of at least twelve people’s feet in imitation of Jesus doing the same to his disciples at the Last Supper.
Holy crapIn CCD classes many years ago I was told that Jesus’ washing the disciples feet was significant because in those days people walked either on the bare earth or with a minimum of footwear, and, as sanitation was often lacking, there was a good possibility that the disciples had fecal material on their feet. So what Jesus did was probably pretty icky. I hope that at the time there was more to the CCD explanation than that, but none has lingered…

April 10th, 2004
Leaving home

St. Mark’s University Parish in Santa Barbara was like my second home. During my time there, I invited and welcomed people to parish activities as if it actually were my own home.
I estimate eating one-third of my dinners at St. Mark’s during my sophomore year of college.
Six months ago I left St. Mark’s and California for Brussels, Belgium. I came to Brussels to complete a one-year M.A. program in International Conflict Analysis, to experience life in Europe, and to get some work experience here.
Different tableauI knew that my experience in Belgium would be different and it certainly has been. The people are different, the attitudes towards religion are different—especially coming from…

April 10th, 2004
What Will Mel Gibson Do with All of That Money?

Reports say that Mel Gibson stands to make over 350 million dollars from his movie The Passion of the Christ. That’s a huge payoff for a personal investment of 30 million dollars—though it was invested at considerable risk, since he had no idea whether the film would be a colossal flop, or whether it might put his long career in the movie industry in peril.
And while we usually think that risky investments are entitled to huge payoffs when they succeed, doesn’t the gospel message call us to a higher standard?
Missing the point Though Gibson’s movie certainly portrayed the brutality of Jesus’ last hours on earth, it was a far cry from giving us a vivid picture of Christ’s meaningful…

April 9th, 2004
What Happens When Teachers of Faith Don't Know?

The small, white-haired woman leading the discussion hesitated.
She coughed and bit her lip but managed to read the information on the paper clutched in her shaking hand. She spoke of the Church and Catholic beliefs and, sitting in a semi-circle before her, the members of her parish’s RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) group leaned in to listen.
For many of the class members—unbaptized and baptized non-Catholics—the information she shared was new, neat knowledge about a faith they sought to join. For me—a Catholic theology student and neutral observer placed in the parish by my school—the information was wrong.
Just the facts, ma’am…
The facts, I thought, were important. The

April 9th, 2004
Wilco vs. Marah

Few debates can rage louder and longer than those among music fans regarding the merits of their favorite artists or songs . Anyone who has ever witnessed people arguing over who was the TRUE genius behind the Beatles, John or Paul, or what is the greatest song EVER will understand what I mean. Two albums released in late June raise a similar question for music lovers to ponder: what exactly is rock ?n roll? Is it the loud, no-holds-barred celebration of life and youth you discovered at the age of 15? Or can it be more than that? Can rock music be dense, enigmatic, and occasionally hard to listen to? Can it be like a Russian novel?hard to get into at first, but difficult to put down once you give it a chance?
20,000 Streets Under…

April 5th, 2004
Walmart Has Everything, Including Our Ambivalence

America has an obsession with Walmart. At Walmart, your dollar has 10-15% more value than at the local neighborhood discount chains and corporate supermarkets. Walmart has this luxury because it is huge—their stores are huge, their selection is huge, their profit is huge, their business strategy is huge, and they are the largest employer in 20 states (and the largest private employer in Mexico, by the way).
In 2003, Fortune magazine named Walmart as the most admired company in the United States, but Walmart is also a company of contradictions.
The bright sideWe hail Walmart as the company that cuts us a good deal, gives purchasing power to low-income earners and small businesses, hires the disabled and elderly,…

April 4th, 2004
Why Mars and the Moon Make Sense

I saw Mars last night, a tiny spark of crimson in an expanse of frosty black. It’s tough to miss. First red planet to the right.
I saw the moon too, half-crecented and fully lit. You can’t miss the moon, either.
We have touched both now, one with human hand, the other with the best technology human hands can create.
We need to do more.
Mourning in America
In late January the NASA family weathered what refer to as “dark week,” that span from January 27 through February 1 that marks the anniversaries of Apollo 1 , Challenger , and Columbia.
There is another loss that is mourned year-round at NASA: the end of the moon program.
Political pressure led to the demise of Apollo just as lunar missions were…

April 3rd, 2004
I would do anything for love (but I won't do that)

“I can definitely see you as a priest,” my friend told me.“Thanks,” I said. This was a helpful insight, since I’d like to be a priest. “But the thing is,” he said, “I just can’t see you being celibate.”This was a less helpful insight since, as I understand it, Catholic priests tend to be celibate.
I actually would have agreed with my friend a year ago. If you would have asked me why I wanted to be a priest, I could have told you about how I wanted to serve others or how I felt preaching was a great way to use my talents. I could even talk about my deep passion for the Eucharist and the desire to share it with those around me. I’ve thought about being a priest…

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