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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October 20th, 2009

In this sixth video, Prerna discusses the fallout with her family, community and school as a result of her new relationship.

In video five, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.

In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.

In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.

In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.

In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.

October 20th, 2009


In the white-hot glare of worldwide celebrity there are no shadows, there are only outsized figures of triumph or scorn. They are presented to us as fully formed creations, media amplified surfaces without depth who occupy our fantasies until something else inevitably takes their place. This strange and rare sort of fame — which basketball phenom LeBron James enjoys — generally obscures the flesh and blood reality behind the image. A great deal of the power behind Kristopher Belman’s documentary More Than a Game comes from its ability to trace James’ career back to the time when he was an 11-year-old AAU basketball player, back to the Salvation Army gym in Akron, Ohio, where he befriended three other young players: Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Dru Joyce III. That “Fab 4″ soon moves way beyond being a talented basketball team. Along with their coach Dru Joyce II, they become a surrogate family whose deep bonds will eventually be sorely tested over a nine-year period by their enormous success as well as LeBron’s incredible talent and star power. Below, Coach Dru Joyce II shares some of the stories with Busted Halo that go beneath the surface, to add some shadow and depth to one of the planet’s most recognized faces.

Busted Halo: One of the things that struck me is that More Than a Game is a film about family and its many different forms. The original Fab Four, the nucleus of the team, got together when they were around eleven years, and LeBron, Sian, Willie and your son Dru very quickly become a family of sorts with you being sort of a father figure. What do you think it was that helped that familial bond to occur so strongly between them?

Coach Joyce: we kind of did this a little different than a lot of travel teams. A lot of travel teams might practice early when they put the team together, but then after they start travelling they stop practicing. But when the guys were

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October 19th, 2009


We’ve all heard the jokes. Ever since the term “baggage” entered popular use thanks to the 80s inner child movement, it’s been both a warning — “I have a lot of baggage” — and a punchline.

Example: A few weeks ago on Jay Mohr’s sitcom, Gary Unmarried, before he meets his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, she says: “And I really like him, so please don’t make that joke about how his strong grip will come in handy when he’s carrying all my baggage, OK?”

The broad definition of baggage is: something from the past that continues to weigh you down.

Christine used the word “fraught” in last week’s excellent column about toxic friends. I love the word fraught. It comes from the same root as freight and literally means “loaded down with baggage.” So many of us are loaded down with baggage from our past. So, literal and spiritual housecleanings are a necessary practice for everyone. And if your past regrets and scars are ruining your present, cleaning your spiritual house can transform your life.

The most common use of the term baggage is trauma or bad experiences from the past that taint your ability to face the present with trust. The most disturbing is child physical or sexual abuse, but many less severe forms come into play too. Typically, when past experience of dating jerks and deep unresolved issues with parents block us from being able to trust and be open with a partner.

October 16th, 2009


I’m an information officer for Catholic Relief Services in Asia. This past month, we’ve had our hands full keeping up with the string of natural disasters that has hit the region. From my home base in Cambodia, I was sent to the Philippines to cover our response to severe flooding; then an earthquake hit Sumatra — one of the islands that make up Indonesia, so I caught a plane to Padang, the city closet to the quake’s epicenter.

I was new to extreme quake damage — its dangers and surprises. The first week of any emergency is usually the toughest; I’ve recorded my impressions of the experience.

Day One
The first sign of trouble is at the airport in Padang, Indonesia: there’s no water in the bathrooms; only big trash cans full of water outside their doors. I skirt the pungent restrooms and grab a taxi.

Driving through the dark — most of the city doesn’t have electricity — it’s hard to tell that a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck three days ago. The outlines of the buildings look pretty normal, except for, say, every tenth building, which has collapsed. But as we cross a bridge I see an unsettling gash in the pavement. My unspoken question — This thing is stable, right? — will occur with increasing frequency as the days pass.

I arrive at a makeshift compound used by Catholic Relief Services and its partners in Caritas, the worldwide network of Catholic aid agencies. This base for our relief operations is made up of two buildings loaned to us by the Diocese of Padang: one an old, wooden building that might have been used as a Sunday school, to judge from the child-size desks in it; the other a small concrete-and-bricks office building.

In the darkness, I fumble for my keychain flashlight and greet my colleagues — mostly Indonesian CRS staffers, with several Europeans from Caritas.

A young IT wiz named Feri has miraculously hooked us up with an internet connection. It’s late at night, but he’s still here. Turns out he’s staying: …

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October 15th, 2009

In this fifth video, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.

In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.

In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.

In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.

In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.

October 13th, 2009


When we launched our Fast Pray Give calendar this past Lent, we quickly learned that our readers really loved checking back each day for the little piece of inspiration or information we offered, as well as the small spiritual challenge we gave them along with it. In the midst of their busy lives, people were attracted to the idea of carving out a moment of spiritual contemplation, and coupling it with a meaningful — and very doable — action.

With that discovery in mind, we decided to develop our “Daily Jolt.” Beginning today, Busted Halo will offer a very brief daily insight or inspiration in text, video or audio form on our homepage — and through our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page . Each Jolt will also contain a “microChallenge” asking readers to take that moment of mindfulness and turn it into some small, immediate form of action in their lives.

We understand all too well that spiritual discipline — like any form of discipline in our lives — can be challenging at times, so, as we did with our Lenten calendar, we will periodically offer small incentives (books, Busted Halo Gear, etc.) that readers can win via email. We’ll also ramp up the intensity of the challenges from time to time to see how your deepening spiritual practice affects your ability to act.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a test! There are no right answers here. Our spiritual journeys are all unique and incredibly personal but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a little reminder (or Jolt!) from time to time to keep the journey moving forward. We hope that Busted Halo’s® Daily Jolt can be that sort of reminder for you on your own journey.

So visit us at BustedHalo.com everyday to get your Daily Jolt or sign up for our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page. You can also look in our Jolt Archives to see what you’ve missed.

We want to …

October 13th, 2009


“We need to talk.”

The four dreaded words that strike fear into all of us. “We need to talk” is almost never the start of a fun conversation. It’s usually about how you’ve done something wrong. Or how the relationship isn’t working for the other person. And while we all dread those four little words in our romantic relationships, I’d argue that hearing them from your best friend is even worse.

I hate drama within friendships. I firmly believe they should be easy relationships. If a friend calls to cancel lunch at the last minute, I don’t immediately think it’s about me. She’s busy; we’ll reschedule; it’s fine. And I assume my friends will cut me the same slack as well.

But then there are the friends who seem more interested in the process of the friendship than the friendship itself — the ones who want to talk about why I had to cancel lunch, whether it was something she said or did, whether she still thinks we’re as close as we once were. And it’s those kinds of conversations that make me want to scream.

I am blessed with a wonderful network of tell-it-like-it-is female friends who call B.S. on me when I’m lying to myself; who are there for me when I’m crying over something big or small; and who offer the advice that they believe is right, not always the advice I want to hear. I adore my friends. Well… most of them. Most of the time.

The less-than-stellar types of friends

Then there are the friends who seem more interested in the process of the friendship than the friendship itself — the ones who want to talk about why I had to cancel lunch, whether it was something she said or did, whether she still thinks we’re as close as we once were. And it’s those kinds of conversations that make me want to scream.

I have friends who only talk about themselves (and sometimes, I worry I turn into one of them myself when life gets a bit overwhelming).

October 8th, 2009


Religion has found Twitter, the 3-year-old web service that allows people to dish on their daily lives in 140 characters or less. Increasingly, monks, nuns, pastors, rabbis and followers of all faiths are using Twitter as a means of spreading their faith, talking about faith-related news stories, connecting with their congregations and sending their prayers into cyberspace. Consider the following:

Each morning and evening on Twitter, @TheUrbanAbbey has prayer services in 140-character bites. The monastery without walls included this prayer in a recent morning service: “Giver of the present, hope for the future: save us from the time of trial. When prophets warn of doom, free us from our helplessness.” Though the virtual abbey is based out of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia, its members and the more than 1,000 Twitter followers live all over the world.

The 91 Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration pray together five times each day via their Twitter account, @BenedictineSis. Their monasteries are in Missouri, Arizona and Wyoming.

Wider nets, celebrity pastors

@RickWarren: “You weren’t just made BY God, u were made FOR God. Until u get that, life will never make sense. God made u to love u.”

@RevRunWisdom: “Never allow urself 2 make some1 your priority while they only make you their option.”

For some Christian pastors, Twitter has allowed them to cast their evangelical nets a bit wider, to populations they wouldn’t reach from a Sunday pulpit or even with their website. Some have started tweeting the content of their Sunday services. Bishop James Brown, aka @ifeelgod, “got on Twitter almost two years ago as an early adopter. I use it to promote ministry training, as a prayer portal, and a place to connect,” he wrote in a Twitter direct message. Brown is founding pastor of Victory International Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

Twitter has allowed Rabbi Amber Powers to meet Jews far outside the walls of her Pennsylvania rabbinical school, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, where she is the dean of admissions.

October 6th, 2009


Each fall, Jews celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, named after the “huts” the Jewish people lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness. Sukkot begins on the night of the largest full moon of the year, the harvest moon. This year it began at sundown on Friday, October 2, and runs through October 10. As a celebration of the year’s largest harvest, Sukkot reminds us to give thanks. The American Pilgrims understood this biblical significance of Sukkot, and made it the basis for Thanksgiving.

Tradition calls us to “live” for a week in a sukkah (sukkot is the plural form) — a hut, open to the sky, with some leaves for a roof. (Eating meals there can qualify for “living,” especially during inclement weather.) Living in a hut reminds us of our interdependence with nature. Our buildings and vehicles are artificial barriers, which insulate us from so many effects of nature. We succumb to an “edifice complex.” They distract us from our constant interaction with nature, inhibiting us from “smelling the roses.” They limit our awareness of the impact we have on nature, so we don’t deal with pollution, conservation of resources — dying species, sustainable development, diversity of energy resources — global warming, or even adequate preparation for “natural” disasters. Just ask the residents of New Orleans. As we become more aware of interdependence, we accept our stewardship of nature.

What living in sukkot can teach us

Living in sukkot — symbols of freedom from civilization — might teach us to detach from those values of our surrounding society that limit our freedom, such as materialism, isolationism and rugged individualism. Freedom is our ability to “worship God” (in secular vocabulary, to “live as we should”): to use all of our resources to pursue our highest values, to fulfill our potential to create or improve ourselves and our world. If all lived freely, then we would celebrate the Messianic dream, our harvest of the moral deeds, which we plant each time we do one.

On the other hand, living in sukkot might

October 6th, 2009

In this fourth video, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.

In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.

In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.

In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.

October 4th, 2009


I don’t mean to put anyone out of work in this difficult economy — I even have several friends in this profession — but I implore you to turn off the news and leave it off. Mainly, I want you to turn off the local news, where “if it bleeds, it leads” and the priority, after titillating you with gore, is to scare you — because they thrive if we think we have to watch or we’ll die.

There are a number of reasons I recommend turning off the news. First, life is stressful enough already. Who needs this? Second, if you are powerless over something, there’s usually no benefit in worrying about it. Third, exposing yourself regularly to the ugliest aspects of society darkens and coarsens your view of other people, which takes you away from compassion and love, and thus away from God. It undermines your spiritual fitness.

Rather than helping us better to mourn — to see the suffering in the world with an open heart — watching the news regularly hardens our hearts. In order to face so much suffering with no option of relevant action, we detach from it; we tune it out, if you will.

October 3rd, 2009

If you’ve ever seen dog owners walking to church with their pooches in ridiculous outfits, sprayed with doggie perfume and a bow in their fur you’ve stumbled upon the annual “blessing of the animals” on the Feast Day of St Francis, October 4. In years past I witnessed one woman’s dog in a top hat and tails. Another dressed in a doggy business suit. A third looked like a clown (both dog and master).

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I overheard conversations in the pews about how smart their silly mutt was and how much love they received coming home to the wagging tail that greeted them at the door. Owners shared recipes about what they cook for their pets, talked about what they’ll dress them up for on Halloween and even celebrated their animal friends’ birthdays complete with party hats and a big bash.

Reveling in all of this canine eccentricity seemed odd to me until I visited a Franciscan friend of mine in upstate New York the day before last year’s blessing of the animals.

“Mike, just wait until tomorrow. You’ll see sheep, and cats, and snakes, and ferrets besides the dozens of dogs that will make their way here. I swear the second coming of Christ could be happening and if someone else did a prayer service across the street with animals, more people would show up for that!”

St. Dolittle?

St. Francis is always associated with animals. Legend has it that he was so gentle that the birds would come to rest on his shoulders. I’ve never really cared that much for that saccharine image of Francis—the one that adorns many gardens with the birds and chipmunks. After all, this was the same man who renounced his family’s wealth to live a life of radical poverty, famously standing naked in the street, after throwing his cloak

October 2nd, 2009

In this third video, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.

In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.

In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.

October 1st, 2009

A seeing eye puppy in training at church

My dog Lily is a therapy dog, meaning that she is trained to bring companionship to the lonely, comfort to the sorrowful and joy to the depressed, just for that moment. Together, we visit nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions where people may benefit from Lily’s presence.

Lily got a lot of her early training to be a therapy dog by going to weekday Mass with me as a puppy. Our little mountain parish in western North Carolina is small and everyone enjoys her presence. Lily learned how to greet friends nicely; how to wait to greet them until she was instructed to do so; how to sit quietly by my side; and how to stay while I went to communion. She doesn’t go on Sundays, just weekdays.

We leave Mass and go directly to the nursing home where we take communion to a few residents, and she visits everyone. Mass puts her in the right frame of mind and behavior for the visit — and I always said she carried an extra bit of grace with her. She’s been working about eight years.

We are always greeted enthusiastically at the nursing home — though with some odd misunderstandings. Our area is largely Baptist, and the presence of a Catholic dog can stir the imagination.

September 30th, 2009


It may have been the most incriminating moment of my childhood.

The culprit: one chubby eight-year-old (me).

The accomplice: a sympathetic classmate-slash-junk-food smuggler.

The goods: a bag of Doritos.

The teacher caught me — and the entire class’s attention — when she asked me to stop eating and turn to face her. “Krissy,” she said. “Your parents and your doctor don’t want you eating that.” Then, her words wailed in my ears like sirens:

“You’re on a diet.”

I dropped my head and rolled up the bag as the class stared in shock. Just like that, I was busted. Orange-handed.

My grandfather had just died. He and I had been super-close and without him I had grown achingly lonely. My brother and I began to visit our newly widowed grandmother every weekend, and I filled my loneliness with the massive homemade meals Gram served — spaghetti with sausage and meatballs, ham and potato chip sandwiches, and for breakfast, pancakes and omelettes as big as my head.

An internal battle at every meal

I was sure I was the only kid I knew who fought an internal battle at every meal. I was ashamed about who I was becoming. I’d been an incredibly happy baby, always known for my big personality and bright smile, but at only 8, I felt like there were extra outside layers I’d have to chip away at to get to that little girl. She was lost.

Every month that year my parents and I traveled two hours to visit pediatric weight specialists and nutritionists. At 98 pounds I was the heaviest child in my class, and I never would have dreamed I’d be one of the three in ten children who outgrow childhood obesity. I simply ate too much at every meal and had no idea how to turn off my cravings. Like many of the 10 percent of American children today who are clinically overweight, I began to battle depression, low self-esteem and poor body image. The worse I felt, the more I ate and the less I wanted to help my body by

September 29th, 2009


As a child, I yearned to be good. Not just pleasant-table-manners good, but profound, give-away-all-your-belongings-like-St.-Francis good. This may surprise anyone who knew me back then, since I appeared to be a competitive, selfish, critical little pill of a girl, but that’s the story of my life: I want to be good and I don’t know how.

I don’t mean that I don’t know what actions are good. That’s usually clear enough: be honest, be kind, help others, and share what you have. The difficult part is how to be the type of person who really is good, who has good impulses, who wants to be good. How do you become more compassionate, more kindly, and more patient? How do you transform yourself so that you are happily, not grudgingly, good?

My well-meaning Sunday school teachers and family never gave me any tips that worked to achieve that goal, though I know they tried. Adults who tried to teach me Christian virtues made it sound like all you have to do is want to be more kind and more patient, and somehow the wanting will turn into being. But everyone knows that wanting to be good doesn’t work any better than wanting to lose weight. What I needed was a not a diet to lose weight, but a diet to gain compassion.

Putting awareness in the driver’s seat

As I continued to practice meditation daily, I began to find that the impatience and anger that everyday life stirred up in me was being replaced by something slower, something softer — something I have to call compassion, or kindness. As I talked with other students and read more about meditation, I found that a lot of people have the same experience.

Several years ago, almost by accident, I started attending a class on Vipassana meditation, a type of Buddhist meditation that focuses on one’s breath as it naturally rises and falls. A therapist had recommended the class to me as a way to deal with stress. And it certainly helped me do that. When

September 28th, 2009

An undocumented student becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.

September 28th, 2009


Call it the Daisy Complex: So many of us worry ourselves sick — think of that silly game where you pluck the petals off a daisy: “She loves me… she loves me not…” seeking an arbitrary answer — and our fear of rejection keeps us from taking the first steps to happiness.

In his head, Thomas plays out the negative scenarios: He asks her out, she says no, and the friendship is ruined — he’s lost her entirely.

Or, he asks her out, she says yes, but then things don’t work out, and everything is weird after that.


The scenarios of doom are endless. But one scenario is nearly guaranteed: If Thomas doesn’t ask her out or show his interest, she’ll never know he cares about her that way. And that, to me, is the saddest of all possibilities.

“I know it’s a problem,” Thomas told me. “I just don’t know how to fix it.”

Conquering the Daisy Complex

I gave Thomas two bits of advice… and told him I’d share his story with other young adult readers who might be struggling with similar fears. Here’s my advice. What’s yours?

September 24th, 2009


In the Jewish yearly cycle, Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, is most holy. On Yom Kippur, we Jews simulate death, in order to stimulate life. We refrain from such life-affirming activities as eating and drinking, creative work (as we do each Shabbat) and sex. Our rituals nudge us to focus on the value of our lives in this world.

Leviticus 19 teaches: “Be holy, because I, the Eternal God am Holy.”

(A rabbi, a priest and a minister are discussing their own funerals. The priest imagines a eulogy about his compassionate listening, his sage advice and his encouragement of the poor. The minister hopes for words about his work for civil rights, peace and health care. The rabbi wants those at his funeral to say, “Look, he’s moving.”)

Seeking a definition

To “be holy,” we need a functional definition of “holy” — a practical way to live it. Nechama Leibowitz teaches that holiness is not a category, where one person is holy and another is not, where we are holy at one moment and unholy the next. All of God’s creatures possess some level of holiness at all times. The challenge is, how can we raise our level of holiness?

Martin Buber takes us the next step: Holiness can be achieved through relationships. Buber describes a spectrum of relationships between people, from the I-It to the I-Thou. If we treat a person as a machine, as an object, we form an I-It bond. In contrast, when we show respect, love, trust and caring for another, we move towards I-Thou. And if that other person treats us that same way, then we reach the I-Thou, the ultimate level of holiness.

By the way, we can also move from “I-It” towards “I-Thou” within ourselves, within groups and between groups.

MORAL factors

I propose five factors to judge the holiness of our relationships. (Though since our holiness derives from God’s holiness, which has no limits, we can undoubtedly imagine more factors.) For these five, I suggest an acronym, MORAL — an unsubtle hint that holiness and ethics

September 23rd, 2009


I’m not a fan of circumcision, though the bris milah is required for male Jewish children and is considered an essential component of Jewish identity. I do know some modern Jews now have the ceremony of the bris without the actual circumcision. When my sons were born in 1962 and 1963, I didn’t want to have them circumcised, which was an unusual position in those days. My husband felt strongly about the boys being circumcised, however. I allowed him the final decision and actually I’m glad I did: as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more aware of the value of our family’s connection to its Jewish heritage.

When my oldest son and his wife had a son, there was no consideration of the baby not being circumcised, and my husband proudly held the child in his arms during the entire ceremony. I was unable to watch, but by that point in my life I could understand and appreciate the value of the tradition.

Some years after my husband’s death, our daughter married a man who is Greek Orthodox Christian. When their son was born, my daughter, out of deference to her deceased father, decided to have a bris and have her son circumcised. Her husband and mother-in-law graciously agreed. To me, it was a very moving ceremony as I felt my husband’s presence.

After the bris… the baptism

My grandson was fifteen months old when he was taken to Greece to meet his relatives there. Somehow, I intuitively knew his Greek grandmother would want him to be baptized, and I was surprised that I was disquieted by the thought. I wished I could return the openness and generosity she and my son-in-law had shown, but the truth was that I felt very threatened by the possibility of the baptism.

I casually asked how the baptism went. They blinked and said it went well… I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of loss and feelings of sorrow. For a few moments, I felt, irrationally, that the child was lost to me.

When my daughter and

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