Busted Halo

Busted Halo distributed Flip videocameras to undocumented individuals and agencies and asked them to start videoblogging. We hope Busted Borders gives a personal glimpse into the humanity of these strangers in our midst.

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August 20th, 2010

In this video, Miguel talks about how his family found aid and support through positive experiences with church and social programs and how it influenced him to eventually work in a helping profession himself.

In video 2, Miguel talks about racial tension and his experiences growing up as an undocumented hispanic in a small town in the United States.

In video 1, Miguel, an immigrant from Mexico who migrated illegally with his family when he was young, speaks about how he had to hide his undocumented status from those he was closest to growing up.

August 17th, 2010

Nearly 60 years after its birth, rock and roll remains American music’s most successful illegitimate offspring, with everyone from Bo Diddley and Little Richard to Bill Haley and Ike Turner having stepped forward to position themselves in the delivery room and no one really knowing who deserves to sign the birth certificate. Rock’s mother has never been much disputed, however. That distinction belongs to Wanda Jackson, the “Queen of Rockabilly” who came roaring out of Oklahoma in 1956 as a big-voiced teenager and quickly learned to throw elbows with the boys who were just starting to build rock and roll into a worldwide phenomenon. Though she never reached the level of success of her boyfriend and tour-mate Elvis Presley, her “Mean Mean Man,” “Fujiyama Mama” and “Let’s Have a Party” have become staples in the rock canon, paving the way for her second life as a country singer in the 1960s and as the matriarch for a generation of riot grrls and roots rock revivalists. Now the grandmother of rock, she has outlasted nearly all of her contemporaries, still touring the world and working on new recordings at the age of 72.

But to simply count off Jackson’s accomplishments is to tell only half of her story. Just as important to her is the work she has done since the early 1970s, having found a higher calling than rock and roll when she and her husband committed themselves to their Christian faith and began rattling the roof beams of churches instead of rock clubs. Eventually, Jackson decided that she could reach even more people by playing to audiences outside of the church, and she returned to the rock festival circuit, her legend having grown exponentially during his years out of the spotlight. New recordings followed, a documentary of her life was made, and admirers from Elvis Costello to Bruce Springsteen stepped forward to support her candidacy for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now working on a new album with the White Stripes’

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August 16th, 2010

The Bible may advocate the idea that the man is the head of the household, but how does this generation of Hispanic-American singles view this concept? Where does this leave women who make more money than their husbands? Are we mistaking typical Latin “machismo” for church teaching? My Cuban mother once told me it would be my duty to iron my husband’s shirts, if and when I got married. Really? My “duty”?

In a fast-paced world where even Brooks Brothers — one of the oldest American clothing institutions — has responded by manufacturing non-iron shirts, should we adapt as well? And more importantly, how does upholding these gender roles help or hurt us?

To answer these questions, recently I spoke to one of my best friends and fellow Latina single, Liza Fernandez.

August 13th, 2010


August 15 is the feast of the Assumption. According to Catholic tradition, at the end of Mary’s earthly life, she was assumed body and soul into heaven. In the spirit of the day, this article looks at a form of prayer traditionally associated with Mary.

Many people find comfort in praying a daily rosary. No matter what else changes in their lives, that circle of beads is a regular, dependable, soothing part of their normal routine.

I am not one of those people.

It’s not that I dislike the rosary. On the contrary, it’s been the catalyst for some of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my adult life. But though I’ve tried to make it part of my regular routine, somehow I can never quite keep it going. That could be a failure on my part — of imagination, or dedication, or timing — but I think it’s more likely that the rosary is, at this point in my life, simply filling a different role. It’s not my daily prayer practice, but something equally essential to spiritual health: the ritual I turn to in times of crippling fear, anxiety or grief.

In other words, it’s my twenty-four hour crisis helpline.

As a kid, I had no real sense of the soothing power of the rosary. At my Catholic school, each student got a blue rosary for our First Communion. Mine was poorly made — there were thin tags of plastic around the circumference of the beads — but I adored it. I wasn’t crazy about praying it in class, which I found boring, but I loved holding it by the crucifix and letting the beads settle slowly into my open palm. Though I didn’t pray it after graduating from eighth grade, I saved it in a shoebox at home for many years, a beloved artifact of my childhood.

It was in graduate school that I next handled a rosary. When I saw several sitting in a basket at the Newman Center, there for the taking, I snagged a bright green one. It seemed like a …

August 11th, 2010

In this video, Miguel talks about racial tension and his experiences growing up as an undocumented hispanic in a small town in the United States.

In video 1, Miguel, an immigrant from Mexico who migrated illegally with his family when he was young, speaks about how he had to hide his undocumented status from those he was closest to growing up.

August 10th, 2010

The great challenge for Christian leadership is to help people go beyond fears of difference and experience diversity as God’s way of bringing about new creation, said the Rev. Virgilio P. Elizondo.

Elizondo has been recognized by Time magazine as one of the leading spiritual innovators in the U.S. for developing a Christian theology within the context of the Mexican immigrant experience.

He is professor of pastoral and Hispanic theology at the University of Notre Dame and also serves a parish in San Antonio, Texas. In 2007 he received the Community of Christ International Peace Award for his advocacy on behalf of justice and inclusion for immigrants.

Among his books are The Future Is Mestizo, Galilean Journey and The Human Quest. He earned his Ph.D. from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

The video clip is an excerpt of the following edited transcript.

Q: How does your personal background affect your interest in the mestizo theology?

My background is Mexican, but I was born in the United States. My parents were immigrants. Being Latin American is basically being a blood mixture of European and Native Americans and somewhat African. The mestizo reality is that union comes through sexual intercourse and spirituality. It produces a new child, and that child is from different ethnic groups.

In that sense, Latin America was totally different from the U.S., where race mixture was prohibited until after World War II. In Latin America, it was kind of encouraged from the beginning. What emerged was a new human group, the mestizos of Latin America. We’re a mixture.

Because in the United States mixture was looked upon in a negative way, my own pilgrimage has been to discover something positive in it, something very beautiful, and I see it as the beginning of the global humanity.

Q: What do you mean when you say that the future is mestizo?

The global community is growing. People are mixing more and more. I had a beautiful student in my

August 6th, 2010

With the success of our Spiritual Seekers Camino pilgrimage, we decided to explore expanding the offerings of Busted Halo-themed travel for young adults. In partnership with Franciscan Spirit Tours this summer we accompanied college students from the University of Memphis on a service trip to Peru. The volunteers spent a week clearing a space to install a water purification system inside Ciudad de los Niños, a Franciscan-run orphanage for 300 children in Lima. They also took the time to film their project and discuss how the trip affected them physically, emotionally and, of course, spiritually.
How You Can Help
Ciudad de los Niños has been run for over 50 years by the Capuchin Franciscans and it sustains itself financially by making products such as clothes, furniture and baked goods. A microcosm of true Christian community, workers and students alike pitch in to make their own school uniforms, bunk beds, desks, bookshelves and meals. They also provide services such as haircuts and car repairs.

The orphanage is always looking for new markets in which to sell their products such as school uniforms, T-shirts, medical garb and similar articles of clothing. “We’ve developed a system for processing orders,” says John Mattras, president of Franciscan Spirit Tours and a volunteer advisor to the Ciudad de los Niños. A number of Catholic schools are now having uniforms made by the orphanage at a cost approximately one-third lower than American suppliers.

“The school forwards a sample of the item they are currently using,” says Mattras, “and the …

August 5th, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 version of Busted Halo’s Freshman Survival Guide — the first college guide to offer a holistic look into the lives of college students by combining practical advice on student life — academics, relationships and lifestyle — with guidance on coping with the emotional and spiritual issues college students face. Here are our online Freshman Survival Guide resources for 2010:

August 4th, 2010


At a time when the issues of homosexuality and religion are creating enormous rifts and clearly defined factions within many faith communities, Eve Tushnet is a category unto herself. The freelance writer and blogger became aware that she was gay at around age 13 and felt very supported by her parents. (Dad is a Harvard law professor and her mother is an attorney involved with issues surrounding the prison-industrial complex.) Then, having been raised in a Reform Jewish/secular household, she encountered a philosophical debating society while she was an undergraduate at Yale, and the conversations and debates she engaged in there eventually led her to convert to Catholicism.

Now, at age 32, Tushnet is a unique voice in the discussion of religion and homosexuality. She very openly embraces her sexual orientation but is celibate and advocates against same sex marriage. She is the darling of numerous church conservatives but is also a great admirer of radical pacifist and Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day. Ultimately, however — as our discussion below indicates — simple labels and categories are unhelpful with regard to Tushnet , whose greatest commitment appears to be to an “ethos to pursue truth wherever it takes you, and then live up to that no matter what it costs.”

Busted Halo: The philosophical debating society at Yale, the Party of the Right, had a huge impact on your thinking. What was so compelling about that experience?

Eve Tushnet: It was very obvious to me from fairly early on that this group had an ethos to pursue truth wherever it takes you, and then live up to that no matter what it costs.

I knew a bunch of people who converted to various religious beliefs or away from other religious beliefs in which they’d been raised and who had pretty serious breaks with their parents as a result.

I think, as with any really intense intellectual community, it catered to people who were already dissatisfied with themselves

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August 3rd, 2010


Dear Anne Rice:

After returning to the faith ten years ago, I am saddened to hear that you are no longer a Christian. You noted on your Facebook page that you refuse to be “anti-gay, “anti-feminist” and “anti-artificial birth control.” You said:

“In the name of… Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen… it’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

It is that reason and not merely the act itself that saddens me most. First let me apologize. Religion is an institution where human beings seek a spiritual journey and in turn strive to wrap their minds around biblical interpretations and theological thoughts in the forms of prescriptions and doctrines. Because “men” make up the definition itself, the religion has the propensity to be tainted and infected with our own thoughts and actions, and not God’s, and at times can be filled with error. We humans can be wrong and often place our cultural beliefs into the mind of God without realizing it. Remember that it was Christians of an earlier age who used scripture to justify the Crusades and, later, slavery in America.

But I will not believe for a second that what a few Christians believe or preach embodies what true Christianity is all about just like as an African-American woman I will not accept that because a few Christians are anti-black that Christianity itself is anti-black. I know this by looking at the figure in whom Christianity is based: Jesus Christ.

The scriptures — not man-made decrees, hateful Christian protests or talk show sound bites — lay out what it means to be Christian. Jesus was an embodiment of love. He accepted all people. The Gospel of Luke would even have us believe that he was a feminist as he talked to women that no one else wanted to affiliate with. Remember the woman at the well, Mary and Martha, the

August 2nd, 2010

hownottomarrywrongguy-flashWithin three months of dating a guy, I could always tell why the relationship should end. But most of the time, I’d keep dating him anyway. We were having fun. I thought he might change. I didn’t want to be alone. Some of these relationships lasted for years, but finally that voice deep inside of me started screaming. The gut feeling in the pit of my stomach turned into queasiness that I couldn’t deny. Mind you, these were all wonderful, loving guys. They just weren’t the one I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

When I met my husband, Peter, I checked in with my gut at three months. I was sort of wondering if it had gone on vacation, because I wasn’t hearing any complaints. I remember going into a church to ask for guidance, and when I came out, I saw Peter walking toward me, smiling. Instead of feeling sick, that little voice in my head made a girlish squeal of delight.

As someone who has a deep respect for little voices and gut feelings — a.k.a. the spiritual guidance of God — in big decision making, the premise of Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvain’s new book, How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy intrigued me. While most dating and marriage guides focus on the goal of getting to the altar, Milford and Gauvain ask us to step back and make sure we really want to take that walk down the aisle.

Eighteen years ago, Milford called off her own wedding — and was surprised by how many women confided in her that they, too, wished they’d done the same. Intrigued, she began looking for similarities in their stories: Were there signs? How would you know what the right decision should be? What about the cost of breaking an engagement when wedding plans were underway? She teamed up with Gauvain, a clinical social worker and couples counselor who leads Pre-Cana marriage preparation courses. Together they wrote a smart, wake-up call book for …

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July 29th, 2010

Robert Duvall discusses his new film, Get Low, as well as The Apostle, his career and upcoming projects with Fr. Dave Dwyer.

To listen to and/or download the podcast of the interview, click here.

July 28th, 2010

Our “Don’t Forget Your Halo” photo contest has been a huge hit so far, with readers and radio listeners sending in their halo pictures — busted and otherwise — from points all around the globe. We’ve had newborn baby halos, family pet halos, Parisian halos, Central American halos, cake halos, burger halos and pizza halos. In fact, we’re so pleased with the wide-ranging response to our contest that we’re setting a new goal. We want to see halos from all 50 states in the U.S. by the end of the summer. So check out our map below, and if we haven’t received a photo from your state, it’s up to you. Bring your halo to your favorite spot and show some state pride! The photo that shows the most state pride at the end of the summer will win a prize.


28 states to go!

We still need photos from: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

map last updated: 8/11/2010
The Contest:
Friends of Busted Halo have been taking our advice to see God in all things by submitting their photos every week, spreading the word, and getting the chance to win our Grand Prize (a Flip Video Camera and goody-filled Busted Halo knapsack) at the end of the summer. If you want to join the summer fun:

Download our printable Busted Halo or get creative and design your own on the fly.
Take photos of yourself and your loved ones sporting halos wherever you can.
Send them to us at summer@bustedhalo.com or upload them to our Facebook fan page.
Repeat steps 1 through 3.

Check out some of our Weekly Winners showing off their prizes:


July 27th, 2010


I have lived my life believing in human rights, equality and the law. I am a retired deputy sheriff and have dealt with immigrants, documented and undocumented, up close and personal. I have seen them abused and I have seen them abuse the law. But, as both a Catholic and a retired law enforcement officer, I would like to put forth a perspective rarely touched upon in this debate occurring here on Busted Halo — the perspective of the law.

There is no debate on the fact that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. The debate resides squarely in how it is to be handled. There is little doubt that undocumented persons are victims of past legal mishandling, corporate greed, bigotry and a host of other social ills. In fact, without clearly defined legal standing, immigrant workers cannot sue, seek redress or practice equal status in U.S. citizenship, making them — for lack of a better term — subject to a unique new form of slavery. There is little doubt that the project of immigration reform demands our due diligence and God’s loving grace in its resolution.

I was once called to a building site at a local “high-end” gated community — surrounded by a golf course, ocean-side view — to arbitrate an issue between the building contractor and the undocumented workers who had built the mansion on that site. There was a nice lady there who was speaking for about a dozen men who did not speak English and who had not been paid for their work. As a matter of law, I had to explain to the nice lady that the sheriff’s office does not handle “civil matters” and that the fellas would have to take the contractor to court to get their money. She smiled but there was a clear look of disappointment on her face. “We already tried that,” she replied, “And we were told they had no legal standing to sue because they are undocumented.” It was a sick feeling — not to be able to help.

July 25th, 2010


A reader, Janice J. Holladay, LPC, raised a great point the other day after reading my old column on radical honesty. She had just read a book about affirmations and said:

“It seems that trying to fight a self-defeating belief system with something one knows is just a lie is not the way to go. The book suggests that you say/believe it anyway even though it’s “not yet” true. I just don’t see that lying to oneself ever serves any purpose, and we all do it enough anyway.”

I have been asked variations of the “Are affirmations lying?” question many times, and it is a common source of confusion for people new to spiritual and self-improvement work.

My answer is: It depends. Not because gradations of truthfulness are OK, but because there are different types of affirmations. So let’s break it down. Saying, “Today will be a good day,” is aspirational. Saying, “I am thin,” is, well, a lie. (It is for me anyway, and if it weren’t you probably wouldn’t be saying it as an affirmation.)

Affirmations can affirm the best qualities or aspects of what is true. I say in morning prayers, “I pray that today I be of maximum usefulness to You and others.” That is not a lie, it’s a hopeful intention. Or take Paul Tillich’s statement, “You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know…. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!”

This is choosing to focus on and affirm something which is true, but which we have trouble connecting with.

On the other hand, saying, “I am happy,” when you’re not is simply denying reality. There are grey areas sometimes, to be sure — not in Truth, but rather in where the line is between hopefulness and delusion.

Fake it till you make it?

July 22nd, 2010

This weekend’s smash hit Inception is the latest in a string of strong, mind-bending mediations on the nature of reality in the vein of The Matrix, Dark City and Memento. The film focuses on Dom Cobb, a man whose job it is to enter a person’s dream and steal information from his subconscious. As the film progresses, Cobb and his team members — and those of us in the audience — begin to lose grip on exactly what is real and what is a dream. In our own world, the digital landscape provides us with many alternatives to reality: television, video games, and the many role-playing websites the internet offers. These technologies can bring attention to an important world issue, send vacation pictures, distribute pornography, or even organize terrorism. In this Thinking Out Loud, the Busted Halo interns discuss how Inception gives us a mirror through which to look at these modern technologies and how they affect and inform our faith.

July 18th, 2010

Nathalia Ortiza and her friend Lisa Fernandez discuss the perils of being single, Latina and over 30.

If you’re over 30 and you’re single, Catholic and female, there’s only one more ingredient that could make for a combustible “cosmo-mojito” cocktail: being Latina. I was born and raised in the U.S. but when it comes to dating, the fact that I’m technically American means nothing to my very Cuban aunt. Up until a few years ago she and several of the women in my Hispanic family hypothetically shopped for the dresses they would wear to my hypothetical wedding. Whether I had a boyfriend or not didn’t matter, because to my traditional family, romantic life is like the setting on your Facebook account: You’re only allowed to choose from a pre-established menu. And if you happen to fall into the “single” or “it’s complicated” category… let’s just say it may create buzz worthy of votive candle lighting and prayer to the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre (patroness of Cuba).

If you come from the typical Hispanic family, getting married before you hit 30 is an unwritten rule you’re bound to. Older Hispanics don’t usually understand that dating today is not the same as it was in their time. I’m sure other cultures experience generational differences too, but Hispanics are blessed/cursed with being traditional and intrusive. This makes your single status a reason to be singled out.

To my traditional family, romantic life is like the setting on your Facebook account: You’re only allowed to choose from a pre-established menu. And if you happen to fall into the “single” or “it’s complicated” category… let’s just say it may create buzz worthy of votive candle lighting and prayer to the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre.

Our elders forget that today’s generations of singles overwhelmingly come from broken homes (Hispanic–Americans not excluded) making us prone to commitment-phobia. Factor in that, from the time we’re learning to say our “Ave Marias,” we’re …

July 16th, 2010

Miguel, an immigrant from Mexico who migrated illegally with his family when he was young, speaks about how he had to hide his undocumented status from those he was closest to growing up.

July 11th, 2010


Donna Freitas is best known for her provocative nonfiction book Sex and the Soul, which was based on scores of interviews she conducted with college-age students about “sexuality, spirituality, romance and religion on America’s college campuses.” Beyond her work as a scholar and college religion professor, however, Frietas has forged a parallel career as a novelist. Her first novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood earned accolades in the Young Adult fiction genre back in 2008. Her most recent novel This Gorgeous Game tackles an unusual theme: a Catholic priest stalking a teenage girl. In the midst of a new wave of accusations of sexual abuse coming from Europe, Freitas’ work tragically resonates beyond the lives of her characters.

Sr. Bernadette: Being a previously published author of nonfiction, did fiction writing flow out of your work on Sex and the Soul, or was that something that you had always wanted to do?

Donna Freitas: One of the typical questions that I get when I’m on a panel is, “So when did you know that you wanted to write novels?” And half the time the people are saying, “When I was 5,” or, “When I was in seventh grade,” and I’m like, “I don’t know — when I was 30?” I never thought that I’d write fiction. I mostly started it one day for fun because I thought of a character. I’m a huge reader, so I’m constantly reading novels. But it never occurred to me that I was capable of writing a novel. It was when my mother died and I was really, really sad for a really long time after she died. That’s when I started writing fiction. I thought of this funny character and she was amusing me. Her voice was really strong in my head and I just thought to start writing her story because it made me happy in a really sad time, and it turned into a novel.

Sr. B: But the joy of being a

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July 10th, 2010

Bob Sheppard, the longtime Voice of Yankee Stadium died this week at the age of 99. Sheppard’s majestic elocution gave players and spectators goosebumps for over half a century. Sheppard was also devout in his Catholic faith and he was kind enough to offer Senior Editor Mike Hayes an interview about both his faith and his career as he tried to return to the public address booth after an undisclosed illness. Sadly, he would never make it back. We’re reprinting our interview here. You can also hear the full audio version of the interview here on a Busted Halo Cast.

Anyone who has attended a Yankee’s home game since the mid-twentieth century has been greeted by the unique—and now legendary—style of player introductions given over the stadium’s public address system:

Now batting for the Yankees… Number 2… the shortstop… Derek… Jeter.. Number 2.

For over 57 years, Bob Sheppard’s honeyed baritone has been echoing throughout the “The House that Ruth Built,” which means that Sheppard has introduced legends like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson. From Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 and Reggie Jackson’s magical three World Series homers in 1977 to Joe Torre’s dynasty throughout the late 90s— Sheppard has seen it all.

If sports, as it is often said, have become a religion for many Americans, Yankee Stadium is certainly baseball’s great Cathedral and Sheppard—as Reggie Jackson once dubbed him—is the Voice of God inside it. For decades, his distinctive style of announcing has added a greater sense of reverence and grace to games there. It should come as no surprise then that Sheppard is also a man of deep faith: a devout Catholic all his life who receives communion daily and has a daughter who became a nun.

With the Help of God

In 2007, Sheppard, who doesn’t publicize his age (although Busted Halo® sources report that he is 98!) was unable to finish announcing the season due to a severe illness. For the first time in his storied career the man whose microphone is

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