Busted Halo
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March 15th, 2011
on St. Patrick's Day

You have to hand it to the Irish. Every March 17th, they put on the party of the season. Celtic or not, everybody celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.
I am St. Patrick’s biggest fan. I love how popular piety, overpopulated parades and the free-flow of Guinness mix to form a rare and rowdy sense of universal goodwill. I know folks who can’t stand the commercial crush of the Christmas season, who loathe the anti-climactic hype of New Year’s and the synthetic amoré Hallmark cooks up every February 14th. But I’ve never met a soul who harbored any hostility toward the feast day of Patrick, patron saint of shamrock proliferation.
I have to admit though that St. Paddy’s popularity makes me a bit green with envy.…

February 28th, 2011
On the 50th anniversary of the organization, a returned volunteer's reflections

We were halfway through the hour-long walk back from a neighboring township to our village of Thembalethu, South Africa, when the dark, cloudy skies opened up and a torrential downpour fell upon us. We quickened our pace, attempting to flee the onslaught. The dirt road was quickly turning to mud; with each step our feet began sinking deeper into the swampy red earth.

We were only a month into our Peace Corps service at this point, in a strange part of the village where we had never been, and had little idea where to seek shelter. I was with Heather, who was not only the nearest American volunteer to me but would also become my closest friend over the next two years. We looked at each other anxiously, despair seeping into our hearts as we resigned ourselves to walk for the next half hour, though we could barely see 3 feet in front of us. Then, a small lone figure appeared under an umbrella…

February 12th, 2011
The viral uprising of Egypt

The revolution was televised — as well as tweeted, updated and blogged. It began nineteen days ago with the “day of anger“, as thousands of Egyptian protestors, young and old, took to the streets of their country calling for the ouster of the current regime; and culminated yesterday when Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, finally stepped down from office. Revolution had spread through the Middle East, with this uprising falling on the footsteps of those in Tunisia and Yemen — visible instantaneously for public view through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all ablaze with up-to-date news of the protests.
Frustrated with growing unemployment rates and dwindling financial resources,…

February 10th, 2011
The exorcist and Lila Rose

On February 1, Lila Rose’s Live Action organization debuted the first video of its biggest scoop yet — an undercover video “sting” allegedly revealing Planned Parenthood employees aiding a purported sex trafficker. That same day, Fr. Euteneuer, in response to online rumors, released a statement confessing that the real reason he left HLI was that he had admitted to “violating the boundaries of chastity” with an adult woman he was exorcising.

Judging by the reaction to these stories in the Catholic pro-life media, it seems many took these coinciding stories simply as an instance of “good news/bad news,” with Lila Rose a heroine and Fr. Euteneuer a tragic figure. Perhaps it would be wise for Catholics dedicated to defending life to pause and reflect upon the confluence of events, before the news cycle moves on. It may be that the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something about what happens when good people, with the best of intentions, attempt to justify deception.

February 9th, 2011
Revolution from another perspective

I didn’t think Revolution would feel like this. John Lennon, Tracy Chapman and other artists have made it sound so upbeat, so sure of its legitimacy, and so containable in a three-minute music track. The reality is unsure, insecure, and very much “watch and wait.” There are the usual runs to the banks, the stocking up on four liters of milk and all of the rice that could possibly be eaten in a year. There was the filling of the bathtub with fresh water. The preparations — endless preparations — for that which we hoped would never come.
Except we did want it to come. Everyone did. Egyptians are starving and dying from preventable and treatable diseases. The trash here is literally smothering…

January 14th, 2011
A Jesuit comedian looks at reactions to the infamous Doritos ad

Sitting at the dinner table after Mass one evening in those incredibly dewy and pious days of Jesuit novitiate, my novice brother Gary mentioned through a mouthful of broccoli that he thought the best way to give the Church a better understanding of the divinity of the Eucharist would be by replacing the standard host with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the incredibly glazed, sweet and greasy breakfast pastry that has become a symbol for excessive dietary habits in the U.S. The six of us seated at table with Gary concurred — all the while laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion — then went back to eating our broccoli.
Our Christian ancestors were eaten by lions; surely we can look a 30-second advertisement…

January 14th, 2011
Ex-L.A. gang members carry a message of hope to a small Alabama town

For over 20 years, Homeboy Industries has offered a way out of gang life for thousands of young people in Los Angeles. Established by Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, in 1988, Homeboy has garnered national recognition and become a model across the country for helping people transition out of gang life. Their many programs include job training and placement assistance as well as small businesses — including a café, bakery, catering service, merchandise, landscaping service and maintenance service — where the most difficult to place individuals are given transitional jobs, thus providing a safe, supportive environment in which to learn both concrete and soft job skills and to build their resume.
In 2007,…

January 11th, 2011
On the anniversary on the Haiti earthquake, a reflection on the devastation and the hard road back

While putting away the Christmas decorations, I came across my daughter’s letter to Santa. Most of her list contained items typical for a 6-year-old: bike (check), dollhouse (check), The Polar Express… DVD (check). But the last item gave me pause. A month ago, when she was writing her letter, she asked me how to spell “hotel.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I want to ask Santa to build a new hotel in Haiti.”
In 2006, I left New York City and my job as an attorney at a law firm and moved to Haiti to teach for a semester, hoping to find fulfillment in a new career. Just as quickly as I learned that teaching was not my passion, I found another unexpected calling. I fell in love with an orphaned

January 5th, 2011
Encounters at the Jon Stewart - Stephen Colbert rally

Ask most any twentysomething in the United States where they get their news from these days, and one of their answers, if not the only one, will undoubtedly be The Daily Show or The Colbert Report…. The two hit satirical news programs from Comedy Central attempt to weed through the inundation of far right and far left, always opinionated, and often extreme cable news shows. Replaying one-sided and frequently ridiculous clips from Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and the big three networks, these shows attempt to bring to their viewers a filtered bit of truth (or truthiness, as Colbert would say) about politics and the media.
The goal each night for both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is to shine a half-hour’s light of sanity

December 30th, 2010
(1973-2010)

Hospice.
The word sounds ominous enough when it’s spoken in reference to an older person, but when it’s used to describe the dying months of a 37-year-old woman, it is dreadful to my ears.
One of my all-time favorite people, Elizabeth Bonwich — or “EEEEEEEEEEEEE BEEEEEEEEEE” as I would call her in my best “public address announcer” voice whenever I greeted her — spent her last few months in hospice. She died on Saturday Dec. 18th in the late evening. Elizabeth had five different kinds of cancer for nearly 20 years. Cancer robbed her of her ability to walk without a brace and a cane, caused a constant ringing in her ears and, in general, gave her lots of reasons to…

December 27th, 2010
Given the painful revelations of the sex scandal, why are Catholic churches not empty?

Every Sunday, all around the globe, a minor miracle is occurring that has gone almost unnoticed: despite continuing revelations about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, somehow the churches aren’t empty. Despite all the terrible news about the Catholic Church sitting at the top of everyone’s RSS feed for days on end, it was still standing room only at the Holy Week events. While it is strictly anecdotal evidence, people are still coming to church even when the reports of the sex scandal are so dire. Can you imagine any other organization on earth weathering this type of negative publicity over this long a period and still being able to function?

December 19th, 2010
Purifying the Christmas Air

As the days shorten and darkness covers our late afternoons and evenings, we naturally have some extra time to ponder significant moments of our lives. At holiday times, we remember Christmas and New Year celebrations of decades past. For those of us who grew up in households crossed by the affliction of addiction, holiday celebrations were often marred by unpleasantness, if not outright violence.

My Dad had numerous “worst moments” in his life, but it’s the holiday snafus that stand out in memory, when alcohol too often fueled his smoldering rage. One Thanksgiving was ruined when, after a liquid feast of Schmidt’s beer and Canadian Club instead of turkey, he lost his temper and started wailing on us kids. There was a Christmas when I was home from college, and Dad — who hadn’t lived with us for years — showed up drunk. Long and short of it, I had him arrested that Christmas Eve. The image of him, handcuffed, being led to the cop car past the trees he had planted in our front yard years earlier remains burned in my memory.

December 16th, 2010
The most valuable gifts don’t involve frantic trips to the mall

Christmas without spending money, to some, may seem like an impossibly stingy suggestion. However I can guarantee that these five tips will both make your Christmas season less hectic, and probably enrich others much more than anything you can buy at Best Buy.

December 1st, 2010
Getting your spin on for Chanukah

Welcome to Extreme Sports: Jewish Style. Leave the suicidal snowboarding to the kids; as a rabbi, I’m more of a dreidel blackbelt. While it isn’t as transformative as the Kabbalah or as lucrative as a lottery win, I’m uniquely qualified to reveal to you another very powerful secret of the universe: the Upside Down Dreidel Spin.
This is the bubbie… of all spins, but in the spirit of Chanukah, remember: just as the oil in the temple burned for eight days, a great dreidel player must cultivate patience and perseverance in order to master this move.

Despite what the song says, most dreidels aren’t “made out of clay.” That’s the good news, because when it comes to dreidels,

November 24th, 2010
What would St. Francis do?

Recently, on a pilgrimage in Italy, I heard a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal relay in a homily one of the many stories of St. Francis of Assisi that raised medieval eyebrows. A gang of robbers, known to not only rob but also kill their victims, was terrorizing the local towns. Francis gathered his friars and encouraged them to visit the remote homes of those alleged to be responsible for the attacks. He instructed his friars bring bread on their first visit. On the second trip, they were to bring bread and …wine. The third visit, they were to bring bread and wine, and then ask of their hosts a special favor: if they were going to rob people, at least spare them their lives and commit no physical violence against them.
The intention

November 5th, 2010
Reflections on fear and faith at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Sitting on a packed Greyhound bus on Friday night, somewhere between Port Authority and Union Station, I panicked. I couldn’t breathe; my cell phone was about to die. I was even thankful that the guy next to me was asleep and drooling; that was better than him witnessing the unmedicated panic attack of the person sitting beside him — a bipartisan, underemployed thirtysomething who had never been to a rally before. I’m claustrophobic and anxious about crowds, germs and public transportation. I’m as leery of the concept of Port-O-Potties as I am about attending events that require them. Why attend the “Rally to Restore Sanity” if it meant forsaking my own?

The thing is, I had waited such a long time for Saturday.

Those of us with panic disorder generally like to know what we’re in for beforehand. On the way to D.C., no one knew. Was this undefined and/or unprecedented rally going to be political or sarcastic?

Every possible scenario came to mind. I envisioned being screamed at by officers on horseback or trampled upon by angry hipsters wearing ironic Halloween costumes (the guy stapling Lipton Tea bags to his pea coat comes to mind). I imagined holistic hippies selling vegan muffins and self-published copies of Eat, Pray, Shop. I pictured people screaming at each other, being handcuffed and thrown against police cars, and a media circus capturing it all on camera. Cops meets Saturday Night Live meets C-SPAN.

Guess what? None of these fears were realized.

November 3rd, 2010
A group of NY artists create an old-fashioned forum for discussion about the Park51 Islamic center

A group of artists are taking public discourse back to the old days, when all you needed to get your thoughts heard was a pen and paper, not a Twitter account and an online following.
It’s a throwback to a time when computers were scarce and thoughts on paper were plentiful.
One day, as I was out reporting, I saw just that: a simple white poster with black text that left enough room for handwritten commentary. In the sensory overload that characterizes New York City, the clean white lines and hard edges of the poster caught my eye.
The poster was divided in half by a thin black line. To the left of the line it read: “The Ground Zero Mosque should not be built because:” and to the right of the line: “The…

October 26th, 2010
How to make Halloween more fun and less foul

It may sound blasphemous, or at least juvenile, but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Not that it has anything on Christmas, but it’s definitely in my top three. When I started my life in the ”real world,” especially when I began working at Busted Halo®, I was shocked by some of my coworkers’ low opinions of this day of mirth and mischief.

I grew up in a family of theater people and always loved the fun of getting dressed up and playing crazy characters. So a day when such things were actually encouraged (and rewarded with candy) was always a boon for me (as opposed to the other 364 days when I was just a little strange). But, after spending my first Halloween in NYC I could begin to understand some of the resentment harbored by the Halloween haters against the Halloween hoes.

Halloween in New York is totally other. I have never seen a more drunken debaucherous crowd of naughty nurses, sexy kittens, and dirty [insert anything else you can think of]s in my life. It was disgusting, a little disturbing, but more than anything else, disheartening. What happened to the creative, good wholesome fun I had loved so much as a child?

October 25th, 2010
Busted Halo’s Editor-in-Chief says goodbye after six years


When I took over as editor-in-chief of Busted Halo in May 2004 we were still living in a web 1.0 world. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist and updating this site involved working with a content management system that—compared to what we use today—might as well have been designed by Fred Flintstone. So much has changed so quickly in the world of the web and social media that it’s almost as if we now exist in a different universe.
Social media isn’t the only thing that has changed in that time. The conversation about the intersection of faith and everyday life that we’ve hosted at BustedHalo.com has grown exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of seekers have come here in an effort to make sense of…

September 22nd, 2010
Speaking out for the moderate Muslim majority in America

Take a good look at my picture on the right: if you saw me walking around in New York City I look just like any other girl wearing an H&M shirt, Blackberry in one hand and Starbucks coffee in the other, right?
Would you guess that I’m a Muslim — born and raised? Maybe not. But I am. And as of late, I’ve had to defend my religion more times than I can count.
This is the typical dialogue I encounter when people find out I’m Muslim:
Person: “You’re a Moz-lem?”
Me: “Yes! I am.” (I smile hard, to seem friendly and maybe overcompensate for any stereotypes said person has about “Moz-lems” — it doesn’t usually work.)
Person: “But,…

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