Busted Halo
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October 14th, 2014

Millions of people are victims of domestic violence every year, but very rarely does it come into the spotlight. Over the past few months, there’s been nothing but a spotlight on former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, the surveillance tape showing him beating his now-wife in an elevator, and the NFL’s handling of the situation. The revelations about Rice bring the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our minds as we move through October, Domestic Violence Awareness month. It’s time to call all sectors of society to greater awareness and vigilance in the face of an evil that is often kept in silence.
Victims and survivors of domestic violence are all races, genders and faiths. They are married, dating,…

September 30th, 2014

I live in a bustling Philadelphia neighborhood, where the symphony of street racing, heated arguments and emergency sirens is punctuated by occasional, and very brief, stillness. A country girl at heart, I find solace at a Franciscan spiritual retreat center an hour south of the city, where a cluster of small, sparsely appointed cabins sit amidst a forest and foster the mental quiet necessary for deep connection with God. If visitors wake up early enough in the winter months, they are treated to a rainbow of color and chorus of praise as the birds of the forest gather around a wooden carving of St. Francis of Assisi holding a tray, which the sisters keep stocked with seeds. It serves as a reminder that God sees and cares…

September 25th, 2014
As ISIS/ISIL terrorizes the Middle East, we’re called to dialogue, and to work with people of other faiths for peace

The recent 9/11 anniversary of the 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., also brought with it, especially in light of the present actions of ISIS/ISIL, memories of the backlash against Muslim and even Sikh communities on our own continent. Those memories underline the importance of building relationships with people of other faiths — in our efforts to help those who are the victims of such violence, and in seeking together the common goal of peace.
The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said as much when it reasserted its commitment to dialogue with other religions, and Muslims in particular,…

September 24th, 2014
The long, and sometimes difficult, road from seeing their struggles to seeing our struggles

When I was 21, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to get my doctorate in theology and become a renowned theologian of sexual ethics. When I approached my mentor for letters of recommendation, she said something that stopped me in my tracks: “You should really consider taking a year off. Maybe you should do a year of service.”
I cried for a week. I don’t like a change in plans. In theory, I could have stayed the course, but I respected and admired her too much not to consider what she had to say.
The following fall, I started what would become two years of service at a Catholic service organization in Chicago. My chosen assignment was teaching English at an all-girls Catholic high school on Chicago’s…

August 29th, 2014

Earlier this summer, Pope Francis released his “Top 10 Secrets to Happiness.” Along with “live and let live” and “be giving of yourself to others” was a reminder for young people of the sacredness of work. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people, he said.
We need to be creative with young people … It’s not enough to give them food. Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home [from your own labor].
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops beautifully describes the connection between work and human dignity, stating: “Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected,…

August 28th, 2014
Organizations put solidarity into action at the U.S.-Mexico border

The U.S.-Mexico border has always been a hub for immigration and a point of political contention. Most recently, an explosion in the number of children fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the United States has sparked more debate. While politicians, advocates and policy analysts continue to address the root causes of migration, there are humanitarian and relief organizations — many of them with religious roots — that are focused on meeting the needs of migrants at the border. This is just a short list of the many groups that work tirelessly to show compassion, listen to migrants’ stories, and help meet their immediate needs. All of these organizations encourage volunteers,…

August 22nd, 2014
Why racism and police brutality are right to life issues

Does black life matter? Once again our country is at a crossroads with its “unfinished business” of race relations. Within the past few months, headlines have described the stories of several unarmed black men killed by police. Either through blog comments, or in regular discussions, the opinions of who was at fault, usually differs depending on the race of the individual speaking. Now, I don’t want to put everyone into general categories, because not all black people think the same way and not all white people think the same way, either, but for the sake of brevity in this article, I will use generalities.
I’m writing through the lens of a young adult black male from New Orleans, Louisiana. My city’s…

July 30th, 2014

Anyone audacious enough to claim a Christian response to the arrival of tens of thousands of immigrant children at the United States’ southern border should, at the very least, do several things.
First, they should acknowledge they do not and cannot possibly speak for all Christians. They should also admit to what is most likely a grossly incomplete grasp of the myriad political, social and cultural contexts of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other Central American countries from which many immigrants are coming. Finally, they should concede what is probably a very limited understanding of U.S. immigration policy.
With all that in mind, I will say that as someone who aspires to Christianity, I have…

July 23rd, 2014

Last summer, I spent a month interning as a medical translator for migrant farmworkers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It wasn’t the typical summer vacation, and there were some challenging moments. I don’t have any illusions that I changed the world or made a big impact, but I learned a lot about what it means to be human.
As a bit of historical background, during World War II, the United States established the Bracero Program, which brought Mexican farmworkers to replace the U.S. farmers who had gone to war. This system of importing labor from nearby countries evolved and became institutionalized; farms came to depend on it. However, with stricter regulations on immigration and growing nationalist…

July 21st, 2014

A few years ago, I moved to Peru to work as a teacher with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). Each year, the school where I taught picked a tema trasversal, or transversal theme, toward which the entire academic community would strive.
I like the idea of naming a broad idea that encapsulates a particular season of life. When I consider my own tema trasversal for the year and a half I spent in Peru, I consistently arrive at “presence.” It arose almost every day during my time with JVC, rearing its head in everything from the books I read to the retreats I attended and the community activities in which I participated.
Why presence was so important is probably not mysterious. Service programs take all kinds, but volunteers…

July 15th, 2014

I applied to become the leader of my school’s Global Outreach (GO!) project to Quito, Ecuador, on a whim — a whim that took into account neither the fact that I would be responsible for the lives of nine other people in a foreign country, nor any concern that I had never even traveled outside of the state without parental assistance. This whim, however, was connected to an intense desire to serve. The added bonus being the opportunity to help the people in whose culture I had been raised.
As I would later share with my guinea pigs (the endearing title I gave to my team), though I was not born there, Ecuador had always been my motherland. I grew up with the my mother’s stories of living with papito Nicanor in the farmlands…

July 10th, 2014
A reflection on Peter denying Jesus and the modern-day dilemma of identifying as a Catholic

I’m Italian. When this fact comes up, and people respond, “Ohhhh, you’re Italian?” I’m never quite sure what will follow. But usually, it’s something like, “Your mom must be a great cook!” What can I say? It’s true. She makes hundreds of meatballs on her meatball-making day, and they are a-mazing. Generally, the reactions I get to being Italian are favorable, a far cry from what Italian immigrants faced in the past, during times wrought with ethnic discrimination.
However, there are also parts of my identity that are important to me, but not always seen favorably by others. This has been my experience as a Catholic.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with Catholicism, I’ll admit. I grew…

July 9th, 2014

This is a hard article for me to write. It’s about one of the worst things I’ve ever done, or not done, actually. In advance, I want to tell the mother in the story that I’m sorry for being too scared. I’m sorry for being too selfish. I’m sorry for who you lost.
When I was in high school, often I was afraid to rock the boat. I didn’t want to make waves or make anyone mad. So when I heard a girl in one of my classes quietly saying that she was pregnant, I was caught. I knew what I should do, but that didn’t make it appealing.
I am pro-life, in theory at least. But like many people, when I have to sacrifice for my convictions, often I turn away. I was unsure what to say because I hadn’t…

June 11th, 2014

I had never really been a soccer fan. Growing up in the 80s, I played peewee soccer like everyone else in Southern California, but I wasn’t very good. Then the 1994 World Cup came to the United States and soccer mania broke loose. Still, I kept soccer at a healthy distance. As an Italian American I’m sure my relatives across the pond were disappointed and lamented the loss of an opportunity to bond with their American cousin. But I was just not ready for soccer. That would all change in 2002.
Aha Moment #1: Every team has a story…
My brother was studying abroad in Florence, and I went to visit during winter break. While there, I was inundated with soccer memorabilia and fandom. There were soccer jerseys everywhere! Scarves

May 27th, 2014

Recently someone came up to me and asked, “Andy, do you remember me?” Then it happened again a couple weeks later. My memory had to be jogged briefly on both occasions, but each person had remembered me from my time spent at two Jesuit universities in the last few years. I hadn’t seen these people in a while so it was nice to have the chance to chat and catch up. The joy, though, in each encounter was in being remembered.
The act of being remembered makes you feel appreciated and worthy. It’s the same as when someone tells you they were thinking about you the other day or that you came up in conversation. Consider the feeling you get when some past relationship or brief encounter that was sitting…

May 21st, 2014

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24
America’s first two Anglo settlements were Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first was a business founded by the Virginia Company of London that mentioned God in its charter as an afterthought. Plymouth, in contrast, was a group of pilgrims hoping to find spiritual refuge. Since the 1600s, the United States has wrestled between its love of God and money. Unfortunately, today it seems the pursuit of wealth is winning America’s heart while God is becoming more of an afterthought.
Take…

May 13th, 2014

Imagine walking into Sunday Mass and finding an extra 500 people crowded in the pews and spilling into the aisles. No, it’s not Easter. It’s a Mass mob.
The concept is taken from the popular flash mobs that invite strangers via social media (sometimes hundreds, thousands, even millions!) to participate in a group action. Flash mobs range from choreographed dances in public places to marriage proposals.
Mass mobs were created to intentionally invite strangers to attend Mass at a designated church. Beginning in Buffalo last November, Mass mobs have spread across the country to churches in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and most recently Detroit. The Mass mobs in these cities happened in older churches with the…

April 22nd, 2014
Are we focusing on financial freedom at the expense of the poor?

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every [kind of] garden herb, and [yet] disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)
When some Christians talk about biblical principles in government, they tend to mean something very specific: small government, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, low taxes, government that respects the Christian heritage of the United States and a national law based upon the Bible are the main tenets. Freedom and liberty are considered by many in the American Christian community to be the backbone of the United States. Indeed, these are vital to any free society, but are they…

April 17th, 2014
Connecting an ancient practice of remembrance with the suffering in today's world

On Good Friday, Jesus not only reveals that he is our Savior, but also, more subtly, that he is our Teacher. During his Passion, was he quietly teaching us not to mourn his death specifically, but rather asking us to mourn human suffering in general? Is there even a way to contextualize Christ’s Passion in the 21st century?
Many Catholic Worker communities try to do just that. By designing their own living Stations of the Cross, they attempt to tie Jesus’ Passion intimately to those who suffer in their own neighborhoods, towns and cities, as well as in far-off places in the world.
I’ve participated in the Los Angeles Catholic Worker “Good Friday Stations of the Nonviolent Cross” (which Martin Sheen dutifully…

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