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 27th, 2009

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

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 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 …

August 1st, 2009

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

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 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 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 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 …

June 23rd, 2009


When Dr. Hill removed his future son-in-law’s ruptured appendix two weeks before the wedding, it gave me a great line for the homily: “Salim is the only guy in history who is happy to see his father-in-law coming toward him with a knife.” It also gave me confidence in surgery. As I watched Salim and Bridget dance at the reception, I thought, “If Dr. Hill can make somebody that well, that quickly, maybe I should give him a call.”

Had to happen sometime. After passing fifty without ever having gone under the knife… it was time. The hernia on my bellybutton that used to be golf ball-size, was now a baseball. My waiting for it to fix itself didn’t seem to be working.

Dr. Hill looked at me and said, “Let’s see. You have to go to Alaska and help out in parishes in a couple of weeks. We could take care of this on Friday.”

“I have a lot this weekend. Alumni Weekend. A talk, masses,” I said.

“OK, then we’ll go on Monday,” Dr. Hill replied, noting the date on the chart. My fervent hopes that this could be put off until August were not working out.

“That only leaves me nine days recuperation. Will that be enough time?” I asked.

“No time is good for these things. Might as well just get it done,” opined the good doctor. “You don’t want to run into trouble up in Alaska. But it’s up to you.”

It wasn’t the hospital or the operation itself that bothered me. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals… just never as a patient. No, what worried me was pain. I’m no candidate for suffering. I’m just a priest, not Jesus. I was a linebacker years ago — more apt to cause than suffer pain.

Fortunately I knew the hospital, Lourdes, in Camden, NJ, very well from my 15 years as a priest at Holy Name Church there. But this was new. Pre-op: EKG, blood and urine …

June 20th, 2009


Fathers: They’re revered, adored and at times feared — even despised. No matter how you see your dad, you can’t argue with the fact that the way he fathered impacts your idea of family.

Anthropologist Don Conway-Long is fascinated with the shifting role of fathers in an ever-changing world. He teaches courses on gender and critical masculinity studies at Webster University in St. Louis. Conway-Long shares his thoughts on baby boomer and Generation X parenting on this Father’s Day.

Busted Halo: What’s your personal experience with fatherhood?

Don Conway-Long: I’m a stepfather, grandfather and uncle. I have three, thirtysomething daughters whom I inherited in their early teens. I’m not their biological father, but does that really matter?

BH: How involved was your father with raising you as a child?

DCL: He wasn’t. His generation didn’t do that. There were also other circumstances. We were a military family where there was discipline and rigid, sex-oriented roles — men did this, women did that. It was also a generation where the fathers worked all day, and then became weekend warriors when they made you do things they wanted to do. That’s the memory many of us had. I believe that’s partly behind our generation’s desire to not father like our fathers did. My father, who’s 78, regrets it now. Interestingly, he’s a truly involved grandfather. It’s a common thing that happens to men of his generation. They may not have been involved as fathers, but they become really involved with their grandkids.

BH: When did society’s concept of fatherhood change?

DCL: Three things happened to our generation. There was a renegotation of power between men and women. Women’s attitude changed, they no longer accepted that they had to stay at home. They became more powerful, and more demanding about sharing responsibilities at home. The economy also changed, and raising a family now required two breadwinners. The third piece was psychological. Dad wasn’t there for them, so the men of today recognize that as the missing link for connecting with their children.


June 18th, 2009


In the few days since we published our interview with Jim Caviezel, events surrounding the election in Iran have added special resonance to his new film, The Stoning of Soraya M. (opens June 26).  In the movie, based on an actual event that occurred in Iran in 1986, an Iranian woman is the lone voice protesting the stoning of her niece under Sha’ria law.

In the following interviews, the film’s star, Shohreh Aghdashloo, director Cyrus Nowrasteh and producer Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ) discuss what compelled them to make this powerful and disturbing film. As Iranian-Americans, Aghdashloo—who is familiar to American audiences for her Oscar nominated performance in House of Sand and Fog—and Nowrasteh have very personal connections to both the subject matter of their film and the way a very similar mix of Islamic law and civil justice is playing out in the current Iranian election crisis.

Click here to get involved with organizations working to stop stonings, honor killings, domestic violence and other atrocities toward women.

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Busted Halo: This has got to be a really tough week for you. This movie has suddenly taken on a deeper resonance because of events in Iran. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re feeling this week?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Absolutely, it’s amazing. I have mixed feelings, I have to tell you. I feel happy, I feel sad. I feel sad for the people who are dying. I feel happy for the people who have decided at last, after 30 years, to take their destiny in their own hands. I am happy to hear all the dialogues that are coming out of Iran now, when before we were only hearing monologues coming down from the clerics dictating how people should live, talk, walk, and behave. Now we’re hearing dialogues. We’re hearing people asking for — shouting for — recounts, and we’re hearing the government saying yes we are going to recount. This is all very healthy; of course very dangerous as well.

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June 15th, 2009


Being at the center of one of the highest grossing movies of all time can be both a blessing and a curse for an actor. The world now recognizes their name and face, but a role can be so iconic that they’ll have trouble breaking free of it in audiences’ minds (Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, for example.) If the role in question happens to be Jesus of Nazareth, that effect can be magnified many times over. It is a predicament that Jim Caviezel knows all too well. When Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004, Caviezel, a devout Catholic, went from being a Hollywood actor who worked steadily to being the star of one of the most controversial — and profitable — films in movie history.

Since then Caviezel has kept a relatively low profile, but when Passion producer Stephen McEveety approached him about The Stoning of Soraya M. (opens June 26), based on the true story of an innocent Iranian woman who was stoned to death in 1986, Caviezel signed on. He plays Freidoune Sahebjam, the French-Iranian novelist/journalist whose 1994 book inspired the film, a supporting role to the film’s stars, Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) and Mozhan Marnò. Caviezel hopes the movie will draw attention to women’s rights violations around the world. (To get involved with organizations working on this issue, click here or see our list of contacts at the end of our Q&A.)

In the interview that follows, 40-year-old Caviezel is surprisingly open about faith in a secular world, the effect The Passion has had on his career and why, five years after The Passion, he was drawn to another project that takes place at the controversial intersection of religious belief — Islam in this case — and graphic violence.

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June 11th, 2009

mobiledevotional-insideMy life is quite busy. By day, I am an educator for young people and adults caught up in the criminal justice system. By night, I am a freelance writer. By vocation, I am an ordained minister seeking to reach the world in nontraditional ways. And by age, I am a thirtysomething New Yorker trying to live in and enjoy the city. My load is so full that I think it’s becoming harder to spend time with friends, and also, sadly, God. I am not one to say that I am too busy for God.  But I must admit that I’ve become too busy to connect with Him in the traditional way I’ve been taught. I’m talking about the “waking up at 5 a.m. to pray, meditate, read my bible and worship” kind of way. But instead of getting down on myself with the “Bad Christian” pity party, I’ve searched for another connection option; a technological, mobile one, if you will.

This is the information age. It is also an age when we connect to others through mobile devices and social networking. Being the techie that I am, I recently decided to use this technology to help me connect with God in a more consistent way. Ironically, the technology they make us believe we can’t live without has helped me stay connected to the God I can’t afford to live without.

So this is an ode. Better yet, this is a literary blessing to all of the technology (a.k.a. tech angels) that I believe is being divinely used to help me maintain my relationship with the Father. These tech angels are also showing me that, although I have a lot going on, I can still make time to feed my soul. So for all their help, I pray for a blessing upon them.

God Bless the iPhone — You’ve seen the commercials. If you have a need, there seems to be an iPhone application for it, even if it is a spiritual one. Do you ever get the desire to read your bible …

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