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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November 3rd, 2009

In this video, Walter talks about the difficulties of facing an uncertain future.

In video 2, Walter talks more about how he did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.

In video 1, Walter explains how he was caught by ICE and detained for twenty day.

October 20th, 2009

In this final episode, Prerna talks about the repercussions of leaving Fiji and why she continues to stay and work in the U.S.

In video six, 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 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 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 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 26th, 2009


Busted Halo® provides a community — both online and on Sirius XM satellite radio — where seekers can explore the spiritual questions they have, as well as share and grow in their faith. One thing that is pretty clear about this generation of spiritual seekers is that we don’t believe spirituality is just about going to church on Sunday; it’s about living your beliefs in your everyday life. Pope Benedict himself recognized this when he declared the theme for World Peace Day 2010 to be: “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Safeguard Creation.”

Protecting the environment is one of the many ways you can act on your faith. Securing the planet for future generations is no small task, but we know that you, our audience, are always up for a challenge. So we decided that, in honor of the International Day of Peace and of Green Consumer Day (both in September) we’d declare September Busted Halo’s® Safeguard Creation Month.

This means several things. First, everyone here at Busted Halo® is going to make a personal commitment to help the environment during the month of September — by turning off all temperature controlling devices, biking to work, turning off the lights, recycling, or some other act we can take to help in a small way. We’ll keep you posted on our efforts. Second, we’re asking you to do the same.

To help you in our shared task, we’ve set up the Busted Halo® September Safeguard Creation Drive on Gazelle (bustedhalo.gazelle.com). Busted Halo® is a non-profit organization so we rely on the support of you, our readers and listeners, to continue providing the content and community you find on our Sirius XM radio show and bustedhalo.com — but there is no reason we can’t help the environment at the same time.

Gazelle is the nation’s largest “reCommerce” company, offering an eco-friendly and philanthropic way of recycling your used electronics. By donating your used cell phones, computers, MP3 players and other gadgets to Busted Halo® through Gazelle, you ensure

September 22nd, 2009

In this fourth and final video, 24 hours before their move to Mexico, Nicole and the kids say goodbye.

In video one, Nicole explained how her husband was barred from returning to the United States. Because of this, she is planning on moving with her kids to Mexico.

In video two, Nicole talks about the difficulties she’s facing uprooting her four kids and moving to a foreign country.

In video three, Nicole and the kids begin the process of leaving their home for Mexico.

September 16th, 2009

Nicole and the kids begin the process of leaving their home for Mexico.

In video one, Nicole explained how her husband was barred from returning to the United States. Because of this, she is planning on moving with her kids to Mexico.

In video two, Nicole talks about the difficulties she’s facing uprooting her four kids and moving to a foreign country.

September 14th, 2009

Nicole talks about the difficulties she’s facing uprooting her four kids and moving to a foreign country.

In video one, Nicole explained how her husband was barred from returning to the United States. Because of this, she is planning on moving with her kids to Mexico.

September 4th, 2009

A red Hyundai with a Darwin fish and an “atheist” license tag eases up to a fast food drive-through window in Huntsville, Alabama. A van pulls up behind it. Five children slip out, line up along one side of the car and chant “God loves you” and “Praise Jesus.” The kids scramble back into the van, congratulated by a high-fiving mother.

Blair Scott — the 38-year-old, cherub-faced man in the red car — still chuckles about it a year later, joking that the kids yelled “god-scenities” at him. The quick-to-laugh Scott shrugs off the negative attention — which also includes 75 hate emails and at least one death threat a week. Scott is the founder of the largest atheist organization in the state, the North Alabama Freethought Association (NAFA) in Huntsville.

In 2004, NAFA had two members; today it has more than 200. Scott says that a decade ago, three atheist organizations in Alabama floundered, but now 10 thrive. “Atheists are on the rise in Alabama. But we may not be what you think,” he beams.

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August 27th, 2009

Facundo’s family left Argentina to find work in California.

August 26th, 2009


“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

For many who go to church every Sunday, these words roll off the tongue like a drop of dew on a morning leaf. Most of us don’t even think about the radical forgiveness we are committing ourselves to granting, every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. We acknowledge through the words we speak, however, that the forgiveness we receive from God is tied closely to the forgiveness we grant others. Nothing, I believe, can be tougher yet show more of God’s love than a true act of forgiveness. For that reason, it behooves me to add a slightly different, questioning voice to the debate raging over the recent decision by the Scottish government to release Abdel Al-Megrahi, a convicted terrorist, on grounds of compassion.

The news was splattered across every television screen and newspaper around the world, sending the blogosphere into a torrent of typing. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi — a man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 — was heading home to Libya, a free yet dying man. And before Al-Megrahi even set foot on the tarmac of the Glasgow Airport in Scotland, the world’s ire was zeroing in on one man, Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, who stood in front of the cameras and delivered a bold statement:

“It is my decision that Mr. Abdel Basset Mohamed Ali Al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and be allowed to return to Libya to die,” MacAskill said.
Criticism from politicians and family members
The criticism came quick and swift.

“The news today from Glasgow turned the word ‘compassion’ on its head. The bombing of Pan Am 103 was unforgivable,” Senator John Kerry said in a written statement.

“This man was convicted of murdering 270 people. He showed no compassion to them. They weren’t allowed to go home and die with …

August 23rd, 2009

People of faith are not of one political party or the other — not all conservative or all progressive, all right or all left. But most people of faith believe as a core principle that we should love one another and care for one another — that this is how we express Divine Love.

Can we agree on this: Can we agree that it’s a scandal that tens of millions of Americans live in fear of getting sick, because of the ruin it might bring to their lives? And that many of the rest of us are only a layoff away from the same situation? This is not a statement of rights. This is not an argument for exactly how to extend to those people the security of universal coverage. But can we agree that it is for the Common Good that this be done?

It upsets me how little I’ve heard from religious leaders. Most notably, what I’ve heard from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While the bishops have gone on record multiple times in favor of universal coverage, their recent focus on attacking the current proposals gives the impression they are hostile towards the whole effort. I know the bishops want universal coverage. I’ve read the urgency of their words on the subject. But that’s not the message that’s reaching politicians or the general public.

August 20th, 2009

Often it’s the things that don’t turn out the way we’d planned that teach us the most about ourselves and what’s important. A more philosophical way of putting it—experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

Patti started out at small women’s college. She made some great friends right off the bat but found the small college environment a little too small. Erin was the classic ‘so good at everything’ student. She had to make a choice and dive in so she could find out what was right for her. She ended up finding out what WASN’T right for her.

At some point during freshman year nearly every student asks the question “Is this where I belong?” Sometimes it’s because he or she is simply uncomfortable in a new environment or still sorting out what they’d like to pursue. A conversation with an advisor or just a little more time can usually solve—or at least settle down—those worries. Although these situations are not always an easy fix, switching schools, transferring to a new college when you’ve just gotten used to one, is not a decision to make lightly. We asked transfer students Erin and Patti to share their stories.

Erin’s Story
I was told college is the time to learn about yourself: who you really are, what you actually want to do, how loud you can play Journey without the RA’s hunting you down. You don’t even notice, but your actions fall into patterns that you begin to recognize, and you really get a grasp on what your strengths are.

Leaving high school, I didn’t know my strengths at all. I had no idea what to major in or what college to look into because I didn’t specialize in one thing. I was that kid who did everything—I had no real calling. Everyone said to follow my heart, but the things I loved to do were dance and write, and …

August 19th, 2009

A mother of six wants her daughters to avoid female genital mutilation.

August 17th, 2009

One of the guiding principles behind Busted Halo has always been that the journey in search of deeper meaning—that countless young adults are already on—is an inherently spiritual one. The transition to college life can be particularly difficult; for many it is the first time living away from home and the lack of structure can shake some students down to their foundation. But it is also a great time for students to ask the “big questions” about their lives and beliefs. Fortunately, most campuses are well equipped with people who can help with this sort of seeking.

We found spiritual leaders representing four different faith traditions from campuses across the country—from Columbus, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana to Southern California—and asked them to talk with us about the issues they see among new students and how they suggest dealing with them. With religious diversity on the rise and religious knowledge on the decline we spoke about the state of interfaith relations on campus and how students can best navigate the exciting—but sometimes dangerous—waters of college life.

Our panel included:

Amir Hussain, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theological studies at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles; author of Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God
Amir Hussain, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theological studies at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles and author of Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God

Fr. Larry Rice, CSP, Director of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at Ohio State University

Rabbi Yonah Schiller, Executive Director of Hillel at Tulane University, New Orleans

Rev. Scott Young, Protestant campus minister; Co-Founder and Director Emeritus of the City of the Angels Film Festival, Hollywood.

Busted Halo: What advice do you give to a friend or relative just starting college? If you could, condense it into one piece of advice.

Prof. Amir Hussain: On all my syllabi I give …

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August 12th, 2009

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

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 …

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