Busted Halo
April 24th, 2013

Back in 2004, Victoria Ruvolo made national news when an 18-year-old named Ryan hurled a 20-pound frozen turkey at her moving car. It shattered her facial bones, damaged her esophagus, and caused some brain damage. It nearly killed her, but at Ryan’s sentencing Victoria forgave him and asked for a shorter prison sentence.
Here’s her reason:
I went through all the emotions that anyone would have: Why me? What did I do in my life that was so bad that this had to happen to me? Then I realized God is everywhere, and if he is everywhere, then he knew I was in such great physical condition and because of that, God knew I would be able to live through this terrible ordeal. That’s what kept me moving on, to go through my…

April 18th, 2013

When I first heard about Earth Day, I wasn’t on board. It fell on my birthday, and I was suspicious about anything that could potentially cut into my gift-getting. However, during its big push in 1990, I was convinced — even frightened — that if I didn’t do my part in conservation efforts, Mother Earth would be doomed. She looked so sad in those cartoon depictions. I took immediate heed and started to “go green.” I stopped turning on the TV just to have noise in the house. When brushing my teeth, I kept the spigot on low and turned it off when not rinsing. Even as a family, we instituted some environmentally friendly efforts. We reused containers creatively, started recycling,…

April 17th, 2013

When I got home from the office Monday, I did what I do most days: I changed into running clothes and put on my sneakers, readying myself for a few miles to alleviate the daily stress. Of course, Monday wasn’t like any other day.

April 11th, 2013

I was looking at juxtaposition. In front of me, sitting in the middle of a dirt field, was a 7-year-old boy. His clothes were covered in dust, and as the sun baked the sweat on his brow, his mouth grimaced, and his eyes conveyed a pained thirst. He looked up to me, but didn’t hold my gaze, as I know I looked just behind him at a five-star hotel and a water park. It was a mere hundred yards away from where he sat, but a 15-foot concrete wall, a coil of barbed wire, and 60 years of political tension segregated him from it.
This was the summer of 2012, and I was standing in the Dbayeh Christian Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon. For most Americans, and most 17-year-old high school students, such an excursion would be atypical.…

March 27th, 2013

As a native Argentinean Catholic, it is difficult to describe my euphoria upon learning that our new pope is from Argentina. As a Jesuit-educated Catholic, I was doubly excited! On the day of the announcement, the junior high students in my classroom eagerly awaited the new pope’s arrival on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. I smiled at their enthusiasm and glanced hopefully at the poll asking students who our new pope would be, taken less than an hour earlier when white smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel. The majority of my students had voted for Europe or Africa. The lone vote under South America was my own, reflecting my silent prayer for a pope from Latin America, where the majority of the world’s…

February 21st, 2013
Sit out the papal succession hype and stay focused on your own personal faith

Copies of the February 11 Italian edition of the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper on a news stand near the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Every day when I wake up, I fumble for my phone right from bed so I can check The New York Times and get a grip on reality. When I woke up last week and saw that the pope was resigning, I thought I’d lost that grip. Everything I thought I knew about Catholicism — where tradition is tradition is tradition — was upended.

It didn’t take long to tumble down the endless chute that is the papal succession obsession. What did it mean that the pope would resign at such a tumultuous point? Who would be the next pope? What country would he be from? What kind of changes would he make? …

December 29th, 2012

Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act caused a lot of stir among Americans. Even Catholics were split on the issue. One priest tweeted, “What’s nxt? Will the government tell us we have to buy a car now, house, etc.? Let’s frame this the gov’t is forcing people to buy a product.” Another priest tweeted, “#gratefultweet This morning I am especially grateful that the poor and vulnerable may be better cared for in this wealthy nation.”

December 29th, 2012
Busted Halo hits the streets and talks with people about the Vatican’s demand for reform of the LCWR

In 2008, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (or LCWR), the largest association in the United States of leaders of Catholic nuns and sisters in religious communities. During its study of the LCWR, the Vatican office analyzed how Catholic doctrine was being addressed within the organization. This past April, the results of the investigation were revealed.
This week, as the LCWR is meeting to develop a response to the Vatican’s investigation, we’re here on the street asking Catholics who are marching to support the sisters what they think.
[Published on: May 31, 2012]…

December 27th, 2012

May 20, 1988, a mentally ill women named Laurie Dann walked into Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka, Illinois, armed with three handguns and shot one boy in a washroom then entered my classroom. She opened fire on us, small children taking a test about bicycle safety. She killed one boy by the name of Nicholas Corwin and wounded four others before departing to a nearby home, shooting an adult who lived there, and then taking her own life. That day back in May 1988, everyone in Winnetka was a victim, everyone in the nation was a victim, and the country stopped for a moment of silence.

December 26th, 2012

As another year comes to a close, we’re reminded that all good things (debatable) must come to an end. Here’s our list of significant “endings” in 2012. What would you add?
Mayan Calendar — Prior to the arrival of Europeans, people living in Central America followed the 5,125-year Mayan Calendar to organize time. The calendar’s last day was December 21, 2012. Many recognized this as a prophesy for the end of the world or end of time as we knew it. Well… this might actually be an “ending” that didn’t happen! To those who no longer have a calendar, I highly recommend the Gregorian calendar.
Twinkies –… Hostess brands filed for bankruptcy and announced they will be winding down production

November 12th, 2012

The Ten Commandments have been drilled into me since I was young. Whether it was Vacation Bible School, religious education or other church-related activity, these 10 “ways of being a good follower of God” have always been part of my life. Unfortunately the fifth commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” seems to have been forgotten.
“NOLA For Life”
I live in New Orleans where violence has been out of control for some time. And the lack of respect for life can be seen on all levels of society — all the way from violent criminals to elected officials who take an oath to serve the community. In my own personal life, I have lost too many family, friends, church members and even youth to violence. I…

October 10th, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger lately — righteous anger; spilling-over-the-top you are such total crud anger; you don’t deserve to be called a member of the human race anger; and what do you have in your ears, elephant turds, anger.
The level of rage in our national discourse seems to have hit a new low, or high, depending on how you use your statistics. Name-calling seems to be the preferred method of campaigning and “discussion” — although we can’t really use that term, can we, because to “discuss” means to listen to, and I simply don’t see a lot of listening going on.
The thing that I find most dismaying about this pathetic level of discourse…

October 9th, 2012

When I first arrived in Egypt as a working journalist it was June 2011 and everyone I encountered was still ecstatic about the revolution. Tahrir Square was still a symbol of the uprising and many Egyptians still held their military de facto rulers in high regard. Even on my way to Tahrir, my cab driver asked me proudly, “So, what do you think of our revolution? Isn’t it amazing?” His smile lit up his eyes. I nodded, saying it was impressive indeed.
This was in stark contrast to my next visit, when I came back for the one-year anniversary of the revolution on January 25, 2012. The growing unemployment and subsequent poverty had finally taken their toll on the people who now cared little about non-tangibles…

October 2nd, 2012

In the past two weeks of hitting the radio and TV waves almost on a daily basis promoting a new book, I have been transformed. In the physical sense, yes — I’ve gained a good seven pounds and am unsuccessfully masking it with baggier shirts and new husky style dress pants. But this transformation transcends trans fats — in a more figurative sense, I have become something anew — according to a colleague at work, I think I may now be a religious pundit.
Some quick research on this word brings to light a definition that explains a pundit to be, “a learned person in media, or someone who at least appears to be learned.” It is the second part of this definition that I take solace in and will…

September 25th, 2012
Acknowledging and responding to the violence and suffering in today's world

Last week, an interview on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” with former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, began with this exchange:
Jon Stewart: “How’s the world.”
Kofi Annan: “Messy.”
Indeed, the world is in a chaotic and cruel place. In the Syrian civil war alone up to 11,000 people have been killed. Yet the day-to-day events of the conflict seem to be just a blip in the news. Recent developments say that the government has threatened chemical weapons against Syrian rebels who seized a border crossing at Turkey. Innocents are daily wounded and killed with stray bullets. Last month more than 200 Syrians were massacred. What drives a government to…

September 13th, 2012

Mose Gingerich is a thirtysomething with a wife and kids. He lives in a tidy brick house in Columbia, Missouri. He sells Toyotas. On the surface, his life seems utterly unremarkable. But it’s not. Mose Gingerich spent the first half of his life as a member of an Old Order Amish community.
National Geographic Channel recently ran a series examining the lives of young adult Amish who have left their communities and their faith (which, one could easily argue, are one and the same). The series, “Amish: Out of Order,” details the lives of these individuals as they struggle to come to grips with the strange, fast-paced “English” world and the heartbreaking, often irreversible separation from their…

August 30th, 2012
Affirming the dignity of work on Labor Day and throughout the year

This Labor Day, many of us across the country will enjoy a day off. We might even pause and celebrate work and labor with our families and neighbors. Unfortunately, some low-wage workers will still be working, and it is those workers we should be celebrating and whose concerns we should be lifting up.
Employers are constantly finding new ways to cut costs, often at the expense of the very workers who help sustain their business. Workers suffer from low-wages that don’t provide adequate income and force families to go without necessities. They struggle with no health benefits, no paid sick days, and stolen wages. Since the economic crisis of 2008, many Interfaith Worker Justice-affiliated worker centers have…

August 14th, 2012
An abandoned, graffiti-covered lot transformed into a community garden where vegetables -- and faith -- grow

Lucy weeds and waters her two community garden plots every morning after walking her son Lester to school across the street. In the summer, when school is out, Lucy brings Lester to the garden. They grow green tomatillos, jalapeños, green peppers, and plum and cherry tomatoes. In the fall comes lettuce, cabbage and cilantro.
“I let go of everything when I am in the garden,” Lucy says. “I see how wonderful God’s creation is in the colors, fruits, flowers, butterflies and birds. If my son isn’t interrupting, it’s a moment alone in silence where I can say my prayers right in the middle of the plants. I think about my family, my problems. Everything that’s happened is erased.…

July 19th, 2012

Very few things are actually important to know in real time. Some things are fun… to know in real time, like watching live sports or reality show results episodes, but it is rare that our knowing something sooner makes a difference. There’s a very long but fascinating post on SCOTUSblog about CNN’s fumbling of reporting on the Supreme Court decision concerning the Affordable Care Act. In it, SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein says CNN (and for a shorter time, Fox) got the result exactly wrong, stating definitively that the mandate and bill were dead, because of three things. Two — lack emergency procedures and not trusting reliable sources — involve process, but the third is interesting:

June 8th, 2012

Religion and faith have always played an important role in my life, shaping my views of the world and informing my career path in human rights and peacemaking. Attending religious education as a child and young adult exposed me to the views and teachings of the Church. There, I learned the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The emphasis on loving all of God’s creatures and respecting humanity significantly shaped my view of the world. Little did I know, the solid foundation of peace and justice in Catholic social teaching would contribute so much to my future career and passion for human rights and peacemaking.
As a child, I wanted to be a writer…

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