Busted Halo
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September 11th, 2002
Taking to the Skies and Trusting in God

“Turbo props are ok. They won’t hijack a turbo prop,” my ex-boyfriend insisted as I squirmed and looked for more reasons not to fly to my upcoming family reunion four states away. “There’s not enough fuel on a turbo prop,” he continued, “they need a lot of fuel.”
I haven’t flown in a year and I can’t believe that deliberating about whether or not my plane is a good one to hijack and fly into things with is what travel has come to. I used to love flying. Especially flying cross country. I’d stare out the window (I always got a window seat) and watch the rolling eastern green hills pass into the rigid squares and rectangles that bespoke the Midwestern…

September 4th, 2002
Life at the Bottom of the Corporate Heap

A few weeks before she finished her pharmacy degree, my younger sister called to tell me she’d just been offered a job paying something like $60,000 a year. My mind sprouted dark, envious thoughts as she described the retirement plan and giant signing bonus, but I gritted my teeth and congratulated her. “Wow,” I said, trying not to choke, “good for you.”
That phone call left me depressed for months. I had logged just as many decent grades and years in university as my sister, more even. No high-paying career for me, though. Thanks to a combination of choice, chance, and a not-quite-planned baby, I hadn’t gotten any farther than the bottom of the corporate heap. I earned my living…

August 17th, 2002
Corporate Scandal Calls Us Back to Our Ethical Roots

There’s a favorite story in my family that goes something like this…
My father-in-law, a Frenchman, had just arrived in Latin America. He made his way to the government offices in the capital to get his papers in order. Upon arriving he was met by a polite doorman who, noticing his accent, addressed him as “Monsieur.” My father-in-law explained his business in broken Spanish and asked for directions to the government offices he needed. The doorman smiled a benevolent smile and, looking around at the throngs of people standing in various lines, asked him, “Do you have about $100 in cash in your wallet, Monsieur?” “Yes, I do.” “Very well, follow me.”…

August 1st, 2002
23 Defect at World Youth Day in Toronto - Right in Front of My Face

The Cuban exile now living in Canada told the Cubans at the World Youth Day celebrations in Toronto: “If there is any way I can help you at all, please let me know.”
Ismael Sambra spoke these words to a group of young adult Cubans at a picnic I attended during the pope�s visit there. I thought Sambra was just showing some northern hospitality.
I totally missed it. Actually he was offering passage on Toronto’s underground railroad for freedom-seeking Catholic Cubans. Political asylum. The picnic was July 27. On July 28, it was reported that some 23 of the 200 Cubans attending World Youth Day had defected.
Ismael Sambra, in interviews, said he was coordinating safe housing and legal aid for them…

June 4th, 2002
A response to the bishops' recent proposals on the sexual abuse crisis

After reviewing the latest proposals from the U.S. Catholic bishops, I was pleasantly surprised with many of their recommendations. However, the writers of this document still don’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong, many of the U.S. bishops have gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to speaking out in favor of the victims, accepting questions from people in their diocese, and working for healing for the church at large. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. is one bishop who I immensely respect. Recently at a young adult gathering, McCarrick answered many questions about the scandal with great candor and empathy for a church that needs healing and openness. And there are other…

June 3rd, 2002

Twenty years ago this past week a 27-year old Chinese-American man and a few of his friends walked into a Detroit bar to celebrate his bachelor party. A few hours later Vincent Chin was dead.
Who and what killed Vincent Chin on June 19, 1982? Was it uncontrolled anger? Drunkenness? Racism? A baseball bat run amuck?
Just a fight in a bar?
Two white men – Ronald Ebens and his twenty-something stepson Michael Nitz?got into a fight with Chin, were expelled from the bar, and eventually pinned him down at a nearby McDonald’s where Ebens cracked Chin’s skull with a baseball bat.
Vincent’s last words were “It isn’t fair.”
At the time Detroit residents were confronting automobile…

May 28th, 2002
How much money should the Catholic Church pay, or not pay, to settle current sex abuse claims?

How about $0?
Now, before you get into your car and head over to my place to tar and feather me, please rest assured that I, like you, believe that the Catholic Church owes a very great deal to every victim of sex abuse. I just happen to think that cash is a fast and easy way out for the Church and its victims.
By the same token, it seems to me that any cash settlement will neither erase the pain nor simplify the spiritual lives of those affected.
When has the doling out of cash ever promoted healing?
Somehow, with all this talk of millions, it seems that spirituality, compassion, and God have all been shoved to the wings. Instead of an honest attempt at seeking change in the way it enriches the lives of its parishioners, we now have…

May 1st, 2002
Winging It: Meditations of a Young Adult (Orbis Books)

A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. -JOSEPH HELLER
I just received an invitation to a wedding in India from a woman I stayed with in Calcutta nearly seven years ago. Her youngest son is getting married, and she said it would mean a lot if I could come.
I chuckle aloud as I open the envelope, because I can’t help but remember that episode from Seinfeld when Elaine is invited to her friend’s wedding in India. She shows up to spite the friend she thinks doesn’t really want her there and discovers that the groom is her former lover.
The image of Elaine, drunk, with the nose ring, reminds me of the photo I took with two petite Indian woman. Towering over them…

April 20th, 2002
Wishing you many happy years together...

Mike and Marion Perracchio pronounced their wedding vows at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 20th, in New York City. Their column will be returning soon, but here are a few wedding photos:…

April 12th, 2002
A College Student's Spiritual Journey from Minnesota to Thailand

Ever since growing up in Frazee, Minnesota, a small town with a population of 1,700 people, and living next to two Lao families, I had a dream of going to the Thailand/Laos. (Similarly, both peoples actually stem from the same group of people called the Tai Yay.) The two Lao families lived next door from when I was six until I was thirteen when they had to move away. During this time,
I was best friends with the children of both families. I spent my days at their houses, ate with them, watched Thai and Lao movies and concerts, joined in on their traditional ceremonies, and they would teach me a Lao word a day. That was the start of my love for the Thai/Lao language and culture. Ever since then, my Thai/Lao roots have kept popping…

April 6th, 2002
Justly Revisited

It was until my freshman year in college that I read the book “Farewell to Manzanar” – the true account of a Japanese-American family’s struggle as prisoners in a U.S. internment camp during WW II. That book, authored by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston , was forever seared into my memory for it proved that any government, no matter how democratic or well meaning, is possible of acting unjustly. And though WW II and the order to intern over 70,000 Japanese-American citizens seem like far-away history, the same capacity for unjust action is being revisited on Americans today.
This time those of Middle Eastern origin are being treated unjustly by a Justice Department intent…

April 4th, 2002

I knew a local cartoonist out in California named Paige Andersen, who one year near Election Day rendered drawings of improbable right-wing and left-wing extremists. I don’t remember the details. The right-winger was probably armed to the teeth, dispensing tax cuts as confetti, while the left-winger sported a pony tail and carried government cash ready to throw at any problem. I do recall that both drawings had arrows pointing to the respective extremist’s back pocket with the words, “Votes his pocketbook.”
As another election comes and goes, this part of the cartoon vividly comes back to me. It makes me wonder if polls ask the wrong question at election time. It may be we need to ask…

March 29th, 2002
A Canadian View of Americans in the World

It was an early April morning when I awoke to the news that an American pilot had bombed a Canadian training exercise in Afghanistan and killed four Canadian soldiers. I sighed and prepared for the fallout.
It was quick. The killing was labeled ” friendly fire” and Canadian radio call-in shows and coffee shops exploded with angry debate. Canucks were mad; we helped those Yanks after September 11th and they thank us with death? No doubt, as Canadian bodies were flown home for funerals, more than one ?United We Stand’ bumper sticker was ripped from a Canadian car and dumped in the trash.
Oddly, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t crushed, disgusted, or crazed. Instead, I was amazed. Amazed that…

March 28th, 2002
My List to Keep the Prez Busy After Saddam

One of my favorite buttons, which I attached to my backpack during my freshman year in college, was one that sported a photo of Frank Sinatra and read, “It’s Frank’s world; we just live in it.”
If I were sporting a button today, that button would read, “It’s the Dubya’s world–everybody else just lives in it.” With President Bush’s order to topple Saddam Hussein through “a comprehensive covert program” now out in the open, I’ve decided to add my two cents on other pesky world leaders we may want to topple:
1. Fernando Cardozo of Brazil – Should we ever face Brazil on the soccer field, it’s nice to know that we can save…

March 28th, 2002
Young People and the Catholic Peace Movement Today

As images of war fill a greater share of the nation’s TV news, many Catholics are tuning in to organizations like Pax Christi USA to uphold the doctrine of nonviolence. A peace movement of over 14,000 members and 140 U.S. Catholic bishops, Pax Christi USA is considered a crucial component of the global peace movement.
So how is Pax Christi USA organizing its efforts in response to current events?
Following is the first of a two-part interview with Johnny Zokovitch, program associate and youth outreach coordinator for the national organization.
Edward Ortiz: How do the rising numbers of young people currently signing up for the military affect your nonviolence outreach programs?
Johnny Zokovitch: While…

March 18th, 2002

It’s widely recognized that children who grow up in the midst of criticism tend to criticize others. Children raised with violence are at risk for perpetuating violence as adults. And children who grow up with experiences of sexual abuse are at greater risk for abusing another person sexually later in life.
Part of the human condition is that people who are hurt are vulnerable to acting out that hurt towards another person later on. It doesn’t mean they absolutely will, and most people go to great lengths not to pass on the hurts they endured. But it is a human vulnerability we need to understand well�especially in dealing with the current church scandal.
Shedding light on the dynamics of sex abuse…

March 8th, 2002
A Coming-of-Age Tale with Animated Catholic Villains

Catholic high school boys battle adolescent angst while devising pranks against authority figures in the imaginative, entertaining, and heartbreaking film, “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” (ThinkFilm).
This adaptation of the late Chris Fuhrman’s novel, directed by Peter Care, is a 70′s coming-of-age story about best friends Francis (Emile Hirsch) and Tim (Kieran Culkin), who struggle against the strict rules of their critical and moralistic teacher�the one-legged Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster ).
Francis, a talented sketcher, creates an irreverent cartoon notebook; he depicts Sister Assumpta as Peg Leg, a wicked motorcycle-riding villain who’s out to destroy…

March 2nd, 2002
A Bad Case of 'Sympathy Envy' for the USA

Could it be that the United States is suffering a severe case of “sympathy envy” these days?
Surely no other nation’s been too keen on the morality of U.S. war aims since it earned the honor of the first nation to use weapons of mass destruction on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
From the secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War to the leveling of poor neighborhoods in Panama City during the hunt for Manuel Noriega in 1989 it’s been one case of bullying after another. Nowhere has the playing field been remotely level (leveled is more like it).
Perhaps all the recent eavesdropping, browbeating, and bribing the U.S. is reportedly doing at the United Nations is a consequence…

March 2nd, 2002
Sex Abuse in the Church

The other day a priest I know, wearing his roman collar, was walking down the street in Manhattan. A mother and her toddler child were heading in the opposite direction. When she saw my friend, she grabbed her child’s hand and pulled him close, away from the approaching priest. It was a nearly automatic reaction, he told me. Not hard to understand at all, a sign of the times even, but certainly demoralizing.
Clergy sex abuse has been in the news for weeks now. All over the nation, bishops have been removing priests (and most recently themselves) from ministry on account of past accusations.
There have been denunciations, calls for Cardinal Law’s resignation in Boston, demands that priests be removed,…

February 28th, 2002

Will we ever know why the elder and younger Presidents Bush have such a fervent obsession with toppling Iraq?
Morally, can the United States government justify making war on the people of Iraq on the grounds that it possesses weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. is the only nation ever to have used the atomic bomb?
It all comes down to the laying out of a solid premise.
Every dramatist is familiar with premise. It’s the foundation of all good drama. It’s a surefire way of building something from nothing and having people buy into it. A solid premise can always be made into a well-made play. And a solid premise can always sell a war to the public.
So which premise is at play with the U.S. plan to invade Iraq…

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