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 12th, 2009

A Jamaican national with several American citizen children wants to stay in the country.

August 10th, 2009


Ever want to bite someone’s head off just because they had the misfortune to cross your path when you hadn’t eaten lunch? Or hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before? Or when you were already angry about something else? Ever sit alone — or worse, in a crowd — and feel lonely and irritated at anyone and everything?

When I was on Father Dave’s radio show in June, we talked a little about HALT. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to write more about it. Self-help is full of acronyms and aphorisms and a lot of them are more cute than useful, but this one is a keeper. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired: When you feel irritated or anxious, one — or more — of those four conditions is likely at play.

And if not noticed and tended to, they can lead you to very bad places: explosions at others, self-destructive acts, relapses into addictions.

The genius of HALT is that it reminds us of several things at the same time:

To halt before we act out, and reconnect with the divine.
To tend to our physical and emotional well-being — not just go running around on fumes without eating and sleeping.
That these feelings are ephemeral, and once we see them for what they are and let go of our attachment to them, they lose their power over us.

August 9th, 2009

applebees-insideIt’s Thursday night. Work is off my back for the day. Friday is just ahead and the air is crisp and cool as I head to meet my friends at our designated weekly spot for copious calorie consumption: Applebee’s.

Once inside — after our hellos and “Work sucks’” — two things are bound to happen: 1) One of my friends is going to order mozzarella sticks, half-off (cause it’s late); and 2) Somebody’s going to criticize and make fun of me because I’m Catholic. Every single person I hang out with is an atheist, from my best friend to casual acquaintances.

Usually, it starts with a comment from my best friend, “Rich, why are you always following that BS? It’s such a scam.” Other times, it will be one of my other friends who still can’t believe I spend Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in a big steeple house with an organ player and a guy in a long robe and some black shoes: “You’re still going to church, man? What a waste of time!”

Fortunately, I can usually rely on my girlfriend to have my back. She’s not technically an atheist, as she still prays sometimes, but then she drops a bombshell like, “I still share a relationship with God… I just don’t think there’s an afterlife.”

Don’t think there’s an afterlife?! What kind of a relationship is that?!

“Well,” she’ll say, twirling her wrists as if that explains everything, “I know God exists, I just don’t think there’s anything after we die.”

To which I ask, “Then what’s the point of doing all that praying in the first place, if you don’t think there’s an ultimate purpose afterwards?”

And she’ll just shrug.
Shrugging a lot these days
As a 25-year-old life-long Catholic, I find myself shrugging a lot these days too, but it wasn’t always this way. It started when my best friend started denying religion altogether, becoming, as he puts it, a militant Atheist. He is very persuasive, and when he turned his back on religion and discovered it to be what he …

August 6th, 2009
50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference

The green movement has taken root among Christians, with individuals and churches embracing eco-justice as a vital part of discipleship. In this four-part series, we will be excerpting chapters from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by environmental activist Rebecca Barnes-Davies, who makes a clear connection between caring for the earth and living one’s faith. Taking action is important, but it’s also about “not doing,” says Barnes-Davies. Knowing when to let go of control, doing no harm, resting, celebrating, and trusting that God is doing the work to care for creation, are all essential elements to her approach. Each chapter offers seven action items, ranging from individual efforts to activities that encourage the involvement of church and community. There are practical suggestions, relevant facts and background material, success stories, additional sources of information, and appropriate scripture references.

Want to win a copy of 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth? See contest rules just below our excerpt.

Watch What You Eat

The foods we raise, consume, and ship around the world require vast energy and natural resources. In addition, they also impact local ecosystems. Natural balance is overturned in streams, lakes, and oceans when we consume more fish than can be reproduced naturally. Also, genetically engineered crops raised for consumption influence wild plants, upsetting biodiversity. Finally, factory farming and industrial agriculture reduce the varieties and types of produce and animals and limit the genetic diversity that used to exist around the globe.

How To’s

Eat your fruits and veggies! Eating lower on the food chain saves energy and other resources. When you eat a variety of grains, fruits, and veggies, you will diversify both your diet and the animal kingdom.
Try to buy “simple” foods. If the ingredients list includes a lot of ingredients you don’t recognize, try to choose a simpler item.
Buy dolphin-safe tuna if you eat tuna.
If you buy …

August 5th, 2009

Walter did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.

August 3rd, 2009


Tim is an unmarried 29-year-old with a master’s in statistics. He’d like to meet a great woman, get married and start a family, but he says the recession has stalled his progress.

“I don’t have the disposable income to go out on a date,” Tim told me recently. Plus, he said, his self-worth is tied to his career. After a few years of underemployment in jobs that haven’t been intellectually stimulating, even if he did have some more cash on hand he wouldn’t really feel up to dating.

“Manliness is rooted in a career, and it is demoralizing to work in positions that require little to no education and have little to no prospect of upward mobility,” said Tim. “All this leads to a sort of psychology where, while I’m confident I can support myself, I know I cannot support someone else and especially not a child. So instead of dating with the intention to marry and have children I tend to gravitate towards women who do not want to get married and do not want children,” he told me regretfully.

And Tim isn’t alone in feeling this way. The unemployment rate will soon top 10 percent, and it’s men who are bearing the brunt of the layoffs: According to the Labor Department, men accounted for four out of five job losses since December 2007, as jobs in male-dominated fields like construction, manufacturing and financial services have disappeared.

During the Great Depression, my grandfather dated my grandmother for seven years before he proposed because he felt he needed to earn enough money to provide for her, and for a future family. Are we seeing this trend all over again?

Men without college degrees have been most severely impacted, but all guys have been feeling the hit. (Women are being laid off, too, of course, but at much lower rates, and economists predict that by the end of 2009 women will make up more than 50 percent of the labor force for the first time in history.)
Delaying marriage?
Talking with Tim brought back memories of my …

August 1st, 2009

A Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.

July 31st, 2009

promoedit-insideYou asked, we ignored. You pleaded, we contemplated. You begged, we acquiesced. The Official Busted Halo Merchandise Store is now open for business! Our store is now home to all types of products to fulfill your burning desire to wear Busted Halo on your chest, coffee cup, child’s bib… the possibilities are endless (almost).

This is a big step for us; it was only a few years ago that our editor in chief had to hand crank the Coleco computer to get the website up and running, interns had to travel over eight miles by foot to send out the mailings and staffers had the cumbersome task of using rotary phones! But now, thanks to the internal combustion engine, fluoridated water and better labor laws, we’re able to provide our readers with the proper merchandise to show their support for Busted Halo!

merchpromo_v2-insideIn honor of this unveiling, we are — in true Busted Halo fashion — giving everyone a chance to win some of these special items! We’ll be picking one new winner per day next week. To be eligible please follow these simple rules:

Submit your email address, full name, shipping address (we cannot ship to PO boxes) and EXACT item you would like if chosen as a winner to contest@bustedhalo.com with STORE in the subject line. Only entries submitted once will be eligible.
merchpromo_v2-flashAll items in the Busted Halo Merchandise Store are eligible as prizes EXCEPT the flip mino and flip mino HD cameras (get real, people…they’re EXPENSIVE!).
Contest prizes will be awarded for each day starting on Monday and ending on Friday. In order to be eligible for the daily prize, emails must be submitted before 3 A.M. EST (Midnight PST)

Don’t be too discouraged if you don’t win, feel free to console yourself with some online shopping at …

July 28th, 2009

This is not a suggestion to drink less water. It is, instead, a suggestion to curtail wasteful, personal use of water in our homes and congregations. There are both simple and more complicated things that we can do to reduce our water consumption. While one in six people in the world still lacks access to safe drinking water, most of us in the United States have potable water whenever we want. If we had to walk a few miles for the water we use to drink, clean, and cook, we probably would think a bit more about it and would certainly use less of it. While the world’s population grows, access to clean water is going to become an increasingly serious concern…

July 27th, 2009

radical_leaps-insideOn a chilly April night, I’m standing on the stone altar of my childhood church, forehead dripping with chrism, when the guy next to me leans over and whispers, “It’s burning!” In spite of the solemnity of the occasion and the fact that we’re standing with a group of fifteen people in front of an audience of hundreds along with three priests and a deacon, I let out a very inappropriate burst of giggles.

How did I get here? How did a thirty-eight-year-old university lecturer, radical aging punk rocker with eight tattoos (and counting), author of a book about indie culture, married to an agnostic, pragmatic intellectual, and critic of all things group think wind up going through the sacrament of confirmation decades after she thought she’d left the church behind for good? And why does this stuff burn so much?

This spring, I was at the tail end of writing what seemed to be to be a very non-Catholic kind of book about the evolution of indie culture — groups of people who had thrown out accepted methods for making and distributing music, writing and art, and had instead reinvented their creative lives to be free of corporations and institutions.

Having been a part of that culture for most of my adult life, I knew that what held indie together was a sense of community. But my own community had mostly slipped away in the last few years. The magazine I’d labored over for five years had gone out of business when our distributor went bankrupt, and the friends I’d worked on it with scattered to have babies, go to grad school, and write books. Life was quickly filled with the latter for me — I plunged into the two-year project of researching, interviewing, writing and editing that is par for the course for creating a nonfiction book. But there was something lonely about it, and it wasn’t just the fact that I was often alone. There was a big gaping hole in my life, and I realized it was a spiritual …

July 27th, 2009

Our new level of connectedness is a wonderful thing — perhaps the greatest blessing technology has brought us. But it has created a new problem. In this hyper-connected world, time in which you can do nothing is rare.

Despite how highly I value and seek out serenity, I am linked continuously to my workplace and other obligations, so it’s all too easy to feel pressured by the things I could be doing — like Fran in Black Books, cursing under her breath while answering her cell phone as she’s running late for yoga.

The seeds were planted centuries ago with the Puritan work ethic — epitomized by Isaac Watt’s 1700s hymn for children praising the worker bee, which includes the lines:

In works of labour or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

July 16th, 2009


I’ve done a fair share of shopping in my lifetime. I’ve shopped for shoes, for good restaurants, and for colleges. One thing I’ve never done is shopped for a church.

So begins my part in the latest shopping trend. Just two months out of college and two weeks into a new job in New York City, I’m starting my brand new life as a working woman. I have an apartment, I have a paycheck (albeit miniscule), but I still don’t have a church.

It’s not an easy transition to make. My experiences with Mass at my alma mater, Fordham University, were some of the richest of the past four years. The emphasis on Ignatian spirituality, the incredible community, phenomenal preaching, support and fellowship that occurred every Sunday night at 9 p.m. in the University Church ignited my faith life, and heightened my awareness of the way God can work through others. But knowing I can no longer call that church home is disheartening. How can I ever find a church and a faith community that has everything my college campus ministry had?

Over the past five months, President Barack Obama and his family have been visiting local churches and meeting ministers in the search for a new spiritual home. After notoriously breaking off his relationship with former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright last year, Obama withdrew his membership at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In D.C., the Obamas have had a bit of a chaotic church shopping experience — as lines formed hours before morning services in anticipation of the President’s arrival. The fear of feeling on display is what reportedly led Obama to select Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David, as his family’s primary place of worship.

The Obamas’ shopping experience sheds light on what seems to be a growing trend among young spiritual seekers. After a move, graduation, or relocation, many find themselves visiting multiple places of worship, and weighing all options to find a spiritual home that works for them.
The young and the parish-less
After graduating from college, …

July 15th, 2009


While supporting local farmers, eating organic, and eating lower on the food chain are all healthy and helpful, gardening is the hands-on way to connect with the beautiful biodiversity of God’s good earth. It is the most direct way to make sure food, seeds, and the knowledge of growing food stays in the local community. It is also a way to make sure heirloom plants do not become extinct and that your produce is raised exactly with your standards. When it comes to climate change, small gardens with a variety of plantings may be a good way for local communities to prepare…

July 13th, 2009


For those of us of the “spiritual but not religious” generation, it’s a hymn to our ears when a visionary like Michael Franti (of Spearhead) sings, “God is too big for just one religion.” Among my peers, monotheism may not be on the way out but mono-religionism is long gone. We spend less time in churches, but more time embodying spiritual principles through practices like yoga and meditation.

Globalism and discount airfares have bred a whole new level of cross-pollinated, hyphen-empowered seekers. A friend of mine calls himself a Zen-Baptist, while we all know of Sufi-spinning Jews, born-again Hindus, and more mongrel faiths than God likely intended when the Tower of Babel fell.

I was raised in a liberal Catholic household, where mysticism was encouraged, women’s choice and gay rights supported. Over the years, when home environment gave way to church dictates in defining the family’s religion, I rebelled and sought other outlets. Living in the southwestern United States, where Native American practices are frequently seen if less frequently understood, consideration of “the other” seemed natural. Practices tied to the earth would evolve into the center of my search.
Merton’s influence
But early in my Catholic education, I had learned about Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk known for his contemplative approach to Christianity. Even when I broke out to pursue my own spiritual path — which favored Eastern philosophies over what I considered, in my loving non-judgmental state, “stupid insane repressive Catholic dogma” — Merton’s teaching stayed with me. His questions were my questions, and they seemed to anticipate my feeling that “the official rules” were just so much static, and that the music was something to find beyond all that noise.

Globalism and discount airfares have bred a whole new level of cross-pollinated, hyphen-empowered seekers. A friend of mine calls himself a Zen-Baptist, while we all know of Sufi-spinning Jews, born-again Hindus.

Apparently, his influence is still powerful—and cross-generational. In June, The International Thomas Merton Society hosted its eleventh biennial conference at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. Over 300 people attended, 20 of …

July 12th, 2009

I drink my morning coffee with milk. For some reason, I can barely stand drinking it without. One rainy evening I’m at home on the couch and realize I forgot to buy milk, and I groan to myself, “I should go to the store to get some milk.”

I feel nothing but annoyance, at myself for being so stupid that I forgot to get milk on the way home, and at the universe in general for being so unfair. But no one is telling me I have to get it. I want it. And it’s at the store. So, actually, I am choosing to go to the store because I want milk. I may not want to get up off the couch and go out in the rain, but I am choosing to do this because I am willing to inconvenience myself to satisfy by desire for milk. It’s all free will.

For many of us, a harsh critic dominates our inner dialogue — telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. It shames us about big things. I should make something of myself. I shouldn’t yell at my child. And it nags us about trivial things. I should go to the store to get some milk.

While that last one seems innocuous enough, it simultaneously berates us for being lazy and puts us in a victim role, from which we can reluctantly do the right thing… while complaining. Quite a neat maneuver with just a single word.
Choosing is empowering
But knowing it’s free will kinda spoils the complaining and feeling put upon, doesn’t it? Even without any change in behavior, just a new awareness of how dominated our thoughts are by perceived obligations and obedience can be transformational. In a profound way, saying “choose to” rather than “should” is more honest, and speaking truthfully will gain you the esteem of others, and self-esteem.

July 10th, 2009

Bruno-inside“What’s up?” you ask. For one thing, the new movie, Brüno.

The swishy, semi-fascist fashionista Brüno is the imaginary Austrian TV personality created by the very real British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

In 2006, Baron Cohen broke box office records (and probably a couple of laws) with his movie Borat, about another foreign fictional reporter’s adventures in America. With their microphones in hand and their cameramen at their heels, both characters give the British comedian the unique ability, in our media-crazed age, to access people and places few “real” people could get close to. The results are hilarious or offensive–sometimes both–depending on your point of view.

As with Borat, the “plot” of Brüno is non-existent. Brüno flies to Hollywood, hoping to become “the most famous Austrian star since Adolph Hitler” and “the biggest gay movie star since Schwarzenegger.”

Thumbs Up?
Besides being a “take no prisoners” iconoclast and equal opportunity offender, Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish. So, not surprisingly, there are cringe making “Jewish” gags throughout the new film. It’s a carry over from Baron Cohen’s old TV program, where the character Brüno originated, and among other things, liked to rate red carpet looks as either “in the ghetto” (thumbs up) or “train to Auschwitz” (thumbs down).

At one point in the new movie, the staggeringly tactless Brüno decides to become a Middle East peacemaker of all things. But he confuses the words “hummus” with “Hamas” in a high stakes dialogue between a real life ex-Mossad chief and an equally authentic Arab leader. Like everyone Brüno encounters, the two men were baffled by his bizarre behavior.

Some of Brüno’s unfortunate subjects end up making fools of themselves, like the stage mothers and fathers who’ll do anything to get their children a part in Brüno’s photo shoot. Would a mother consent to liposuction for her preschooler? Brüno asks them with a straight face. Will their babies be comfortable working with bees, wasps or hornets? Brüno suggests to one mother that her 30-pound baby lose 10 pounds within seven days — and she eagerly agrees! When Brüno tells one …

July 7th, 2009

Many of us grew up being told to turn off the lights when we leave a room or to not hold the refrigerator door open while looking for a snack. While small, these and other suggestions to conserve energy are still important. Those who have taken any of the various online “ecological footprint” quizzes have learned that it would take four to ten Earths if everyone were to consume energy the way a middle-class American does. Knowing that we only have one Earth, and that most of our energy right now comes from nonrenewable, unsustainable sources, it is essential that we learn the most important ways to reduce our personal energy consumption. Small commitments add up…

July 6th, 2009


Growing up, I was mortified by my parents’ public displays of religion. I’m still convinced that from the years of 1982 to 1986 my parents were part of a cult; others called it “Marriage Encounter.”

One fateful Friday afternoon in 1980, they packed one suitcase and prepared to leave for the first of many retreat weekends; weekends that would become the bane of my existence; weekends that would become the main reason I fled to therapy at the ripe age of ten.

“We’re not getting divorced,” they asserted repeatedly, often in unison, when I questioned their decision to join such a mysterious organization. Of course, deep down I suspected that was the reason they were going. “What are you hoping to encounter?” I asked sarcastically.

“Marriage Encounter helps turn a good marriage into a great one,” they’d say chipperly, having memorized the tagline of the brochure, which featured the M.E. symbol — a heart above two intertwined circles united by a crucifix. Even though I was in fifth grade, I remember the Sunday evening that they arrived home in our purple Plymouth as if it was yesterday — it changed my childhood from a semblance of normalcy to something otherworldly. My parents pledged their full allegiance to the United States of Marriage Encounter and all of the rites and rituals that came with it. The burden of my adolescence was simple: I was mortified by my parent’s public display of religion.

Marriage Encounter stickers soon made their insidious way into our home. I considered them an infestation as my parents placed them everywhere — on the refrigerator; in the back windshield of the Plymouth, replacing the triple-A sticker à la “Who needs a tow truck when you have the Lord?”; even on the outside of the front door of our house. Whenever any of my friend’s parents drove me home from school and were curious as to what the sticker represented, I would lie and say “It’s for UNICEF; just ignore it.”

In 1982, I turned ten and asked

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July 5th, 2009


Heidi Minx’s tattoo-inspired clothing and styles have been featured by Spencer’s Gifts and peta2, on snowboards, guitars and the bodies of rock musicians worldwide, but lately the New York-based merchandising maven has her designs on matters of the heart. After working with Tibetan refugees in India last year, Minx launched the nonprofit organization, Built on Respect, enlisting grassroots support from bands such as Pennywise, Sick of It All, Channel 3 and the Cro-Mags along the way. When in India, Minx shares her business savvy by working with the Tibet Hope Center, Jamtse in Action, and the Institute of Tibetan Thangka Art; back home her goal is to educate anyone interested and “make a positive difference in as many people’s lives as possible.”

Busted Halo: How does this sort of work tie in with your spiritual beliefs?

Heidi Minx: I’ve never been too good ‘on the mat’ or sitting still to meditate. But to me, Built on Respect is dharma in action, “putting others before self,” to use the Tibetan Children’s Villages motto.

BH: How did you transition from the world of fashion to philanthropy?

HM: Fashion was almost more of an accident, it really just happened when people began to pay attention to tattoo art, and my own individual style. If I find that at the end of the day it has no benefit, and isn’t making the world a better place, then what the hell am I doing? I know I am very idealistic, I think years in the punk and hardcore worlds limited my vision to black and white — there is not much grey. If I firmly believe in something, I put my whole self into it, and don’t let much get in the way. I certainly don’t have a ton of money; some days, I seriously wonder how I pay my rent, but somehow I do. You can’t always write a check to make things better — I’ve always thought education is the great equalizer. Poverty, sickness

July 1st, 2009


At 2 years old, my son is already a patriot.

This began around his first birthday, when he developed a massive love for flags. Every time we passed one on our walks, he’d point straight at it, his face lit up. This past Fourth of July, when a local realtor stuck business-card-bearing flags into every lawn on our street, Matthew was in ecstasy. My husband and I joke that in sixteen years he’ll shun any political candidate who doesn’t wear the stars and stripes on a lapel pin.

It’s not that he knows what the flag stands for, of course. I’d guess that his passion is a mix of things: the movement of cloth in the breeze; the bright colors; the fact that he sees something he recognizes. But his unabashed enthusiasm has made me think about my own relationship to Old Glory — and to the republic for which it stands.

I’ve never been what you’d call a patriotic person. Yes, I’ve always loved the Fourth of July, but it’s more for the barbecues and the fact that it’s the first real holiday of the long lazy summer. In college and my early twenties, when I studied and then worked in Paris, I diligently tried to avoid being pegged as an American. Living abroad gave me a new perspective on our country: I was critical of our consumption of fuel and food, of the fact that we did not make learning foreign languages a priority. Whenever someone mistook me for Italian or Spanish (which happened often), I was loath to correct them.

Like many Americans, my patriotism grew after 9/11. The magnitude and evil of the attacks affected me deeply. These terrorists just don’t get us, I thought to myself. They don’t realize that most Americans are, fundamentally, generous and good people. The heroism of rescue workers, survivors, and mourning families and friends made me proud. My country became something to defend. But, all too quickly, our government’s response to the attacks made me retreat into my former feelings. The last several years …

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