Busted Halo
Features : Politics & Culture
March 2nd, 2005
A Journey of Faith From MTV to the Priesthood

Before he reached 30, Dave Dwyer had already achieved some pretty significant career goals in the field of television. The Syracuse University graduate had started out filing video tapes at MTV and quickly became involved in on-air production. By the time he was 25 he was directing a talk show for the newly launched Comedy Central cable channel. Though he was well on his way to bigger and better things in television, Dwyer’s life took a rather sudden turn when he felt a strong call to the priesthood while attending the World Youth Day rally in 1993. Soon after, he left the entertainment industry and entered the Paulists. Bill McGarvey and Mike Hayes sat down with Father Dave to talk about everything from Adam…

February 27th, 2005
Thoughts on Freedom

The following is a reflection written by Sheila Provencher, 32, who lives and works in Baghdad, Iraq, with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT is an ecumenical organization that works with local people in areas of violence (including the West Bank, Colombia and Iraq) to seek nonviolent solutions to situations of injustice and oppression. Sheila (shown left in white), who holds degrees from Harvard and Notre Dame, joined CPT in Baghdad in December, 2003.
BustedHalo.com will feature Sheila’s occasional reflections on daily life in Iraq, the Iraqi people and the challenges they face during the American occupation.

In this last week, countless Iraqi Muslim friends have expressed condolences to me…

February 1st, 2005
Not everything is black and white

Even Dave Chappelle and Jay-Z weren’t cool enough. For some reason, my attempts to fit Black History Month into my high school junior English lesson plans by drawing parallels between these contemporary black entertainers and the work of icons like Frederick Douglas and Langston Hughes just wasn’t working. It worked when I made Catcher in the Rye cool by watching the thematically similar movie, Igby Goes Down, and they really got into it when we did a feminist analysis of The Great Gatsby . Some students might have groaned at the extra work, but they also talked in class, and, I hope, learned something. Now it seemed my class had become the one the kids just had to struggle though. Of the 50 or so girls in…

January 6th, 2005
HBO's latest comedy phenomenon is vulgar, offensive and hilariously revealing

Yes, it’s crass. It’s crude. And it’s more than a little insensitive. All these charges can and should be leveled against Da Ali G Show , which recently completed its second short season on HBO. Nevertheless, Ali G’s critics miss the most important quality of the show, that Sacha Baron Cohen and his trademark alter egos Ali G (the rapper straight outta Staines), Borat Sagdiyev (Kazakhstan’s top journalist) and Bruno (the cartoonishly gay Austrian fashionista) are practicing a kind of guerilla comedy that does much to reveal and eviscerate some of modern American culture’s most laughable assumptions about itself and others.
The Cambridge-educated Cohen first earned…

January 4th, 2005
Tackling the abortion issue without propaganda in school

Teaching morality to sixteen-year-old girls requires a lot of patience, particularly when it comes to issues that revolve around the bedroom. After all, when you are sixteen you have all the answers.
I realize now that this is a necessary trait. I don’t think I could have survived my teens if I had possessed the awareness of life’s ambiguities that I have now. That sense of being sure about everything works like a kind of helpful insulation against the cold breezes of life.
Climbing the Great Wall of Abortion But knowing this about teens doesn’t make it any easier to teach them about complex issues of morality…especially abortion. In the all-girls Catholic high school I teach at in New York…

January 2nd, 2005
The Reiki ministry of Sister Claudine Picard, RSM

This time of year, we promise to strip inches off our waist, build muscle on our upper arms and paint our teeth white. But Sister Claudine Picard, a small woman with fairy-grandmother curls and gentle eyes has a different New Year’s resolution suggestion: attend to your “universal life energy,” otherwise known as Reiki.
After 55 years of ministry as a math teacher, AIDS counselor and parish pastoral associate, Sr. Claudine may seem like an unlikely advocate for a healing technique based on the existence of a “spiritually guided life force energy.” But this Catholic Religious Sister of Mercy has witnessed firsthand the benefits of this ancient hands-on healing ministry and…

January 2nd, 2005
A first-hand exploration of the conflict between Israel and Palestine

Editorial Note: Through Father Tom Ryan of the Paulist office for ecumenical and interfaith relations BustedHalo Editor, Bill McGarvey was asked to participate in a study mission to Israel from Jan 1-Jan 9. The purpose of the trip is to meet with both Israelis and Palestinians to get some sense of what this conflict–which we see constantly played out on our tv screens and the front page of our newspapers–is like firsthand.
The trip is being sponsored in part by a group called the American Israeli Friendship League (AIFL) and they are being led by Sister Carol Rittner who has written numerous books on genocide and the Holocaust and is a professor at Stockton State College. The rest of the group consists…

December 19th, 2004
BustedHalo speaks with the nun who changed the Catholic Church's teachings on anti-Semitism.

Sitting in her wheelchair and tethered to a constant supply of oxygen, 84-year-old Sr. Rose Thering doesn’t exactly fit the image of a righteous crusader for change. But this Dominican sister who challenged the Catholic Church’s long-held teachings regarding the Jewish people has been an unlikely hero in the decades-long struggle to change Catholic attitudes. Through her doctoral research, which played a pivotal role in Vatican II, and her activism since then, this diminutive nun from the Midwest has been instrumental in officially changing the Catholic Church’s position on its relationship with Jews and reversing the Church’s teachings that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus.…

November 9th, 2004
Confessions of a Reluctant Bush Voter

“When you get drafted, you’ll be sorry you voted for Bush,” some co-workers angrily told me after they heard John Kerry was going to concede.
Considering that I’m a thirty-something desk jockey who gets winded walking up the subway stairs, that is a scary thought � particularly for the U.S. military. But I didn’t have the inclination to argue about it or point out that the only draft resolutions brought before Congress recently were sponsored by a Democrat.
The reality is I did vote for Bush, albeit reluctantly. I considered a write-in vote for John McCain (who I believe would make a better President) but ultimately decided it would be a cop-out on my part. A major part of my reasoning…

November 7th, 2004
A mother and son search for hope on the campaign trail

On the eve of the election, I knew I needed to be in Cleveland. The democratic vote in this key swing state would be lost or found in the urban Ohio district of Cuyahoga County. If the election turned out the way I hoped, there’s no place else I’d rather be and if the worst were to happen then I’d know that I’d done everything I could. As one of my fellow canvassers said “I’ll have bitching rights for the next four years.”
My 12-year-old son Gregory and I decided to make the drive from upstate NY to volunteer with America Coming Together in Cleveland. Gregory home schools and we’d been throwing around the idea of campaigning for weeks. What a great lesson it would make.…

October 23rd, 2004
The Rise and Resignation of NJ Governor Jim McGreevey

You couldn’t have a conversation of any depth with New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey without hearing nostalgic stories about his Catholic school childhood. Born in Jersey City, the son of working-class Irish Catholic parents, McGreevey had a childhood many Northeast Catholics would recognize. His family left the old neighborhood in Jersey City for the promise of the suburbs, and young Jim went to St. Joseph’s High School in Middlesex County, where the post-war housing and highway boom in central New Jersey took shape. Eventually, he received a law degree from Georgetown University. He also has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s in education from…

October 12th, 2004
When will Democrats realize they have them too?

“By dismissing the values debate as unworthy of a modern, diverse nation, liberals have allowed conservatives to define the issue. And they’ve defined values as the three G’s: God, guns and gays. Not a word about justice. Not a word about equality. Not a word about war and peace. Not a word about our obligations to the needy, to the disabled, to the sick, to the least among us.”
As Democrats contemplate their seventh presidential defeat in the last 10 tries (a record that would have prompted heads to roll if George Steinbrenner were in charge), analysts have decided that John Kerry lost not to W but to V, as in values.
The President, it is being said, clearly is more in tune with American values.…

October 12th, 2004
Interview with the creator of Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, Barbara Hall

Since relocating to Hollywood from her native Virginia in the early 80s Barbara Hall has written for or co-produced successful shows such as Family Ties, Newhart, Chicago Hope, Northern Exposure, I’ll Fly Away, and Moonlighting; more recently she’s created and produced the popular and critically acclaimed series Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia; she’s also published seven novels (an eighth is on its way any minute) and written and recorded several records, both with her band, The Enablers, and on her own…
What have YOU done lately?
Hall recently slowed down just long enough to speak with BustedHalo about everything from television writing and poetry to physics and faith before.…

October 2nd, 2004
There is no W in Faith

I am neither God nor George W. Bush. As a result, I’m really not in a position to talk about the President’s soul, though I do believe I can talk about his faith, mostly because he talks about it all the time. Other people are talking about it too—or, more specifically, they’re talking about the role faith plays in his life and making a good case that the President’s approach to his faith provides one of the most stark contrasts in this year’s election.
Bush’s total certainty—his resolution, as he likes to call it—has been all the buzz among the blue-state, secular media lately. Like me, they’re horrified that Bush links his desire to kick the crap out of other countries…

October 1st, 2004
Religion Is in Fashion for Campaign '04

“I can assure you in my talks with God, He is not a registered member of the right wing of the Republican Party.”
– Presidential candidate Al Sharpton, a Pentecostal minister, during a December debate.
Religious speech is in vogue in politics. It also helps (check the statistics) if you are a tall, Caucasian male.
“We’re in a religion fad now,” said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boston College Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life in a recent edition of NCR. He reminds us that “nobody really remembers FDR’s religion, or George H.W. Bush’s for that matter, which is different from his son’s. The only time John Kennedy mentioned his religion…

September 11th, 2004
A questionnaire reply given during a recent religious retreat.

Q: Can you tell us of a moment in your life when you definitely felt the presence of God?
A: It wasn’t when the first tower fell, or when I could hear–on the phone with a friend who lived very close–the second tower come clattering down. It wasn’t when I stood at 9th Avenue and 14th street to catch my breath, and by turning my head just an inch to the right saw serene Villagers safe in the beautiful light and air, and then by turning my head just an inch to the left saw a sky blackening with dust from the two buildings; and right before me silent tangles of people covered by the detritus of coworkers and friends making up some of that wreckage were numbly trying to find their way home. It wasn’t when…

September 10th, 2004
One young officer's view from the frontline in Iraq.

Still dusting the sand off recent memories of his 15-months in Iraq, 26 year-old First Lieutenant Jeff Hurd of the US Army’s Second Armored Cavalry Regiment, talks to BustedHalo about media coverage of the war, the embattled city of Najaf, the people of Iraq, God and steak.
BustedHalo: Over here in the states we get a certain view of what is going on over there. Can you give us your first-hand account of what is happening?
Jeff Hurd: What they’re covering is accurate, but they’re not covering a lot of it. Most of what you see is fighting and how many soldiers died today. There is a lot of public relations going on over there that the media isn’t covering from what I’ve seen so far…. Each…

August 7th, 2004
Young, Gay Catholics struggle to reconcile faith and sexual identity

Looking forward to a summer wedding, 28 year-old Ashley Dumas carried her wedding dress out of the closet and hung it on the door for all to see. Her partner, 26 year-old Jamie Levine, and their friends admired the gown for its simple linen cloth.
However, coming out of the proverbial closet has been anything but simple for this lesbian couple. Levine, a nursing student living in Massachusetts, remarked that “it is going to be a legal marriage now and it’s really stirred up my whole family.”
Levine’s family is not the only one that is “stirred up” about gay sexuality. The Catholic family as a whole also struggles with how to include its gay members within the faith tradition.…

August 2nd, 2004
Paulist Father John Ardis counts the Democratic Presidential nominee as a member of his flock.

John Kerry’s nomination in 2004 marks the first time a major party has nominated a Roman Catholic for president since another senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, secured the nod in 1960. Back then, Kennedy had to deal with suspicions that a Catholic president might be unduly influenced by the pope. Today, Kerry is running in a far different political and religious climate in which some US bishops have stated that they would refuse to allow the senator to receive the Eucharist in their diocese because of his stand on “life” issues. When not campaigning, Kerry and his wife Teresa’s home parish is the Paulist Center in Boston, a small, unassuming chapel;adjacent to Boston Common.…

July 20th, 2004
Busted Halo's intrepid intern reports back on her recent trip

Even in the middle of the noisy competition hall, with dozens of other swords clashing and thwacking, the sound of a saber blade breaking is unmistakable. Usually you stop to see that nobody was hurt, throw the ruined blade away, and just go on with practice.
So it was strange, at a tournament in Havana in late June, to see a man in a Cuban National Team warm-up suit pick up a piece of my clubmate’s broken blade and then ask for the other half. “We weld them back together,” he explained.
En garde…
I got my start fencing in a public high school, a fact that surprises some people since fencing is often perceived as an elitist sport mainly for the wealthy. Despite programs to attract inner city kids, that reputation

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