Busted Halo
November 13th, 2003
House Hunting and the Complications of Compromise

I. Java Goddess and Garage Man
Renée: With our house-hunting completed, I can now list yet another way in which Jim and I are different.
Those comments I made during our early blissful engaged months about our similarities and compatibilities?
Whatever. I feel like tossing them out the window. Whether that particular window is block glass, facing south, or fuel efficient, I do not care.
A domestic goddess I am not—I care more about the neighborhood than the house itself. My primary requirement for any potential house was that it be within walking distance of a coffee shop, preferably locally-owned and non-chain.
Jim: I don’t drink the java, so what do I care about coffee shops? My primary requirement…

November 2nd, 2003
Nagging Doubts about Latin America's Famous Revolutionary

Does Cuba’s revolutionary and pop icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara truly inspire those of us working for peace and justice in the 21st century?
A recent photo exhibit in East Los Angeles suggests yes, but I’ve got nagging doubts.
The photos depict moments from those historic heady days when Fidel Castro, Che, and a small army of Cuban revolutionaries overthrew corrupt (and U.S.-backed) dictator Fulgencio Batista and installed Cuban-style communism on the tiny island.
The Argentine Robin Hood
For many Latinos in North and South America guerilla leader Che is a symbol of fighting Yanqui Imperialism and winning. He represents Latin America’s Robin Hood, overthrowing the rich to…

November 2nd, 2003
Peter Steinfels' - A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America

Let’s not talk about sex
Though the clergy sex abuse scandal garners its own chapter in this nearly 400-page tome, the crisis Peter Steinfels describes is not limited to priest pedophiles, hush money, or locked legal file drawers.
According to Steinfels, a larger, more encompassing Church crisis stems from a lack of energetic leadership by bishops and priests, and as a result the institutional Church in the United States teeters on the verge of irrelevance.
“Not that Catholics will suddenly flee from the Church,” writes Steinfels, “?but their faith will be come an increasingly marginal or superficial part of their identity, bearing less and less on the important choices of their…

November 1st, 2003
Especially if a Juror Has a Plane to Catch

The big red stripe ran the length of the white envelope proclaiming, Juror Summons Enclosed.
Jury duty.
I decided to take a positive attitude. Why not? They do pay forty bucks a day; it’s a good way to get a view of the justice system; and if I don’t do it, how can I expect anybody else to?
What I didn’t plan on was the weird community that develops in a group with a shared secret—the details of the case—nor on the visceral nature of jury deliberations. Not to mention the huge brass letters on the wall above the judge’s head, “In God We Trust.“
Be careful what you wish for…
I was selected for a jury on a mugging trial my first day. Getting home late that night I caught the last…

November 1st, 2003
Kids Come From Sex, So Shouldn't More Be Better

When my wife and I had been married two years, people would ask me, “How long have you been married?” I’d hold up a pair of fingers and reply, “Two,” take a slight pause, and continue “long.”
While holding my baby boy, people would walk up to me and say, “How many children do you want?” I’d look at them somberly and reply, “None.”
Then there were sixAh, those fun days were ten years and six children ago. I now walk through life with four sons and two daughters, ages ten years to three months.
This, of course, makes me something of a freak to contemporary ways of thinking. To mitigate this, I tell people, when asked how many children I have: “Four,…

October 31st, 2003
Halloween Origins and Current Practices

Ever wonder where Halloween traditions came from? Are they evil? Pagan? Holy?
Fire FestivalsThe ancient Celts celebrated seasonal feasts to honor the gods of nature. Halloween’s pagan origin was a fire festival known as Samhain . It took place from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 and marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and a new year.
Being “in-between” seasons, Samhain was a time of “no time”—chaos reigned. People did crazy things, pulled pranks, and disguised themselves. It was considered “a magical time when the dead walked among the living and veils of past and present were lifted.”
Along come the Christians…
The word Halloween, however, is derived…

October 31st, 2003

So I’m dumping the box of Halloween costumes out on the floor last night, and� there wasn’t much there. I don’t mean there wasn’t a great deal to choose from–we’re talking about fourteen year’s worth of costumes here�but� there wasn’t much there. For a person who recently passed four Halloweens in northern Indiana�a region that isn’t particularly known for its balmy late Octobers–there wasn’t a lot of coverage going on in these costumes. The total square feet of material in the lot of them could have covered maybe a six-pack of Tic Tacs.
he dance hall girl, the adorable ladybug, Mary Beth the French maid whose ancestry is thoroughly…

October 28th, 2003
Heroic Leadership : Lessons from one of the world's most successful companies

The new book Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World by Chris Lowney puts a new spin on the commonly discussed topic of leadership. The author, a Jesuit seminarian turned investment banker, believes there is much our modern corporate society can learn from these 16th century priests. In fact, Lowney refers to the Jesuits as a “company” and openly acknowledges that a term like that might at first make some readers skeptical.
But the book carries us on a journey from the earliest days with founder Ignatius Loyola (who’s referred to as the company’s first CEO) to the Jesuits’ present status, all the while packing in the drama of a blockbuster…

October 28th, 2003
Radically Reinventing Your Look on Extreme Makeover

I am huge fan of reality television, but I never watched many network reality shows until I moved and my finances decided for me (to hold off on getting cable).
My archaic rabbit ears only receive two channels well. I was ever so lucky to see in clear perfect reception on Fox my Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox all get humiliatingly eliminated in the baseball playoffs. As soon as Aaron Boone hit the game winning home run during the seventh game of the American League championship series, I switched to my other channel, ABC, to watch Extreme Makeover .
Can a person really remake herself from the outside in?
Boldly going where no cosmetics have gone beforeI love makeover shows. I would love to submit my mother to What Not to Wear on…

October 26th, 2003
Big Moral Issues for the ‘04 Election

I might as well admit it, the words “presidential election” cause me to fantasize about moving to a desert island where all the mind-numbing nonsense that passes for campaigning will be unable to reach me.
W.W.G.D.?Then I remember “Gilligan’s Island ” and that issues of “who’s in charge and how do we do this?” raised their ugly head even there.
Humans live in society, and we need to decide things together—the alternative of a totalitarian regime certainly not being on my list of favorite things. So, let’s grit our teeth and push forward, let’s talk about the upcoming 2004 elections.
All in this togetherThe most important aspect of an election…

October 20th, 2003
The Word from the Weekend Anti-War Rally in NYC

February 16, 2003, New York…—Maybe the best makeshift protest sign came as we rounded the corner on to the demonstration site on First Avenue. Someone—we couldn’t see the bearer—had duct-taped a large padded manila envelope on a stick and printed across the envelope, “Stolen Office Supplies for Peace.” In the canyons formed by midtown Manhattan’s apartment buildings and office towers, it seemed like a perfect protest for the place.
The shadows at dawn
This was not a rally with auspicious beginnings. We wanted to march past the United Nations, but the city said found this altogether too dangerous a possibility in these days of orange alerts. Instead the New York Police Department

October 19th, 2003
Extraterrestrial Life and Christianity

ALF says hello
In the middle of the American desert, mankind cups his ear to the cosmos: several highly powerful satellite dishes constantly scan the skies, searching for extraterrestrial radio contact attempts in the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ) project.
We’ve certainly done our share of talking: Every signal broadcast ever is currently zipping through space, carooming off Jupiter. That is correct?every single professional wrestling match, each reality show, all evidence that Jared the Formerly Fat Subway Guy is a revered figure in this society, all blasting through the cosmos representing who and what we are.
And if someone responds, we want to be sure we’re there to…

October 18th, 2003
Mother Teresa's Visit to Phoenix

“Build my children a house”February 2, 1989. Her skin was tanned and wrinkled. Her hands were large and rough. Despite her short stature, Mother Teresa managed to hush an arena of 15,000 by simply standing up and preparing herself to speak. “Governor,” she said plainly, with authority, ” I want you to build my children a house.”
The only shelter the Missionaries of Charity offered at that time was a gutted gymnasium with folding tables and metal chairs that singed your skin when you sat on them in the 110-degree Arizona summer. Everything in that shelter was either broken or in poor condition. Mother’s children
Her “children” were my “sisters”…

October 18th, 2003
Good Reads from the Next Generation of Writers

I love reading books by my contemporaries. I picked up The Quality of Life Report and The Devil Wears Prada more out of curiosity about their young authors than out of interest in quality, life, or Prada.
As I plowed through these fun, well-written reads, I learned a lot about 34-year-old Meghan Daum (Quality) and 22-year-old Lauren Weisberger (Devil), since both wrote novels closely connected to a significant career-slash-life experience (Daum claims her book is only “32.9%” autobiographical).
Meet Meghan and Lauren
Meghan Daum spins a fictional tale that parallels her move from New York City to rural Nebraska in pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment. Weisberger launches her novel…

October 18th, 2003
God Hears Us Whererever We Are

I’ve never tried it, but I don’t think I can pray at a rock concert or in a crowded bar. Maybe it’s possible if you have good powers of concentration. For me, it’s tough because there are too many distractions.
In a church or chapel though, the atmosphere and silence is calming and makes me feel peaceful inside. There are no distractions, so it’s easier to pray.
The ironic thing is that this isn’t the case, with most shrines I’ve visited. In my experience, the more famous a shrine, the more difficult it is to pray there. And on the feast days (or special days)—as they say in New York, fuggetaboutit.
Do these things really matter? Does it matter if you’ve not visited…

October 14th, 2003
A Conservative's Unhappy Conclusions on the Affaire d'Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh died last week. In a way.
The Rush I knew?my principled companion for three hours a day?is in some very serious legal trouble, under investigation for illegally purchasing painkillers.
I never expected perfection from Rush? but I did expect more of him. As I do the President, I hold Rush to a higher ethical standard than I do, say, Kid Rock .
My roots with Rush
I do not, as much of the media assumes of “dittoheads ,” stand by my radio eagerly awaiting the start of his show so that I may base my political direction upon his say-so. He often says what I think, better than I could ever attempt to.
I’m not the only one who can tell that story: Limbaugh’s voice is one of the most listened-to…

October 11th, 2003
Mass with Pope John Paul in His Private Chapel

Sitting prominently on a shelf in my office is a picture of myself and John Paul II. Its proof of the day I met someone who has given his entire life to faith…and made me think about my own commitment to faith (or relative lack thereof).
And whenever my friend Bill sees the
picture, he always reminds me: “I bet the pope doesn’t have that picture in his office.”
Probably not. But it’s still a day I’ll always remember. Why, I remember it like it was just yesterday…[cue harp music, begin dream sequence].
Woke up, it was a Vatican morningIt’s
7:00am, and I’m walking up to the big Bronze Door of the Vatican. The Swiss guards are standing there, glaring at me like I’m trying…

October 10th, 2003
Non-Hispanic America Realizes Who's Arrived in Town

Times have changed. Have you noticed how different things are today?
As a generic white kid growing up in Southern California, I couldn’t help but notice the prejudice local Latino folks endured. My high school was in a mixed neighborhood, and a lot of white classmates felt it imperative to deride Mexicans from the neighborhood. I heard hardworking, proud people stereotyped as indolent or dangerous; they were caricatured on paper with absurdly large farm hats, and pejoratively called beaners after the staple food of Tex-Mex restaurants.
I didn’t protest.
What whites say and do
But across L.A., other whites were behaving better. Clergy, activists, and Hollywood types were boycotting grapes…

October 4th, 2003
Why Getting the Devotion Card Punched Isn't Enough

Catholics believe in the “real presence of Christ” in the Eucharist, but as a concept I think it’s short-sighted at times. Not to knock the Eucharist as something that isn’t special or important, but I think that this literal definition of Eucharist doesn’t go far enough.
When I participate in Mass or Eucharistic adoration, I focus and meditate on the Jesus that is truly present in this sacrament. But sometimes in the process I keep Jesus at arm’s length where I can sit in splendor and adore him without challenging myself to go beyond a one on one relationship with him. I end up placing Jesus in a nice tidy box where I can control him, allow him to be present only in a way that is comfortable…

October 1st, 2003
THE RETURN OF THE KING fulfills the spirit of Tolkien

As many of us had hoped, director Peter Jackson and his commendable crew offer moments of great terror in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King . Fantasy finds a new realism. Shelob the Great Spider is ever-so believably portrayed. The fires and lava of Mount Doom splash across the screen in marvelous intensity. We feel the heat.
But there is also great beauty and majesty. We feast our eyes on the great city of Minas Tirith.
Yet be prepared for the most inspired and majestic grandeur of all: our tremendously gifted director, screenwriters, cast, and crew have bestowed on us the full, deep humanity of the protagonists’ heroic witness. In The Return of the King we experience for ourselves, however vicariously,…

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