Busted Halo
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April 19th, 2004
Do We Want That Instant, Antisocial High to Be Legal?

You lookin’ for common ground between the political Left and Right? Go to your local pot dealer.
You’ll find there the profit motive Republicans drool over, as well as the sybaritic pleasures Democrats long to embrace. You’ll also find a virtually untapped source of tax money to make both parties jitter.
Among my acquaintances, most people—regardless of political affiliation—tend to approve of marijuana’s legalization. The actual possibility of its legalization depends in large part on whether people find it morally or socially acceptable. Law follows culture.
If Prohibition didn’t work…People who favor legalization generally rely on the argument that marijuana…

April 17th, 2004
Living with the Tensions of Unemployment

As my wedding day approaches, and looming responsibilities begin to appear on the horizon, I have become more aware of the fact that I need a real job.
Identity crisisThe idea of equating work with identity is so entrenched in the male psyche I find it hard to be content until I can answer the question, ‘So, what do you do?’ at parties without feeling the need to hang my head out of embarrassment.
I say I need a real job because I actually do have a job, working for a temp agency as a part time banquet server. I call Monday morning to get assignments for the week and get just enough hours to cover my rent and bills.
The dirt on meA few people have asked me recently what I ‘do’, and I tell them the truth: I clear dirty…

April 12th, 2004
A young mid-westerner reflects on his summer in India

Calling it a “vacation” might be a bit of a stretch, but through his correspondence with friends back in the United States, 29-year-old, Minneapolis native Paul Lickteig offers up a refreshing variation on the old elementary school essay chestnut “what I did this summer.”
Lickteig, who is studying to become a Jesuit priest, recently returned from India where he worked and traveled from mid-June until the beginning of August. During that time he stayed in contact with friends through a series of emails in which he recounted his impressions of life there. Like a 21st century explorer’s email travelogue, Lickteig’s observations have the quality of urgent dispatches…

April 12th, 2004
Buddhist Monk Teaches Kindness, Compassion, and Christ

I never understood the washing of the feet.
For newcomers, an explanation: each Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there is a ritual washing of at least twelve people’s feet in imitation of Jesus doing the same to his disciples at the Last Supper.
Holy crapIn CCD classes many years ago I was told that Jesus’ washing the disciples feet was significant because in those days people walked either on the bare earth or with a minimum of footwear, and, as sanitation was often lacking, there was a good possibility that the disciples had fecal material on their feet. So what Jesus did was probably pretty icky. I hope that at the time there was more to the CCD explanation than that, but none has lingered…

April 10th, 2004
What Will Mel Gibson Do with All of That Money?

Reports say that Mel Gibson stands to make over 350 million dollars from his movie The Passion of the Christ. That’s a huge payoff for a personal investment of 30 million dollars—though it was invested at considerable risk, since he had no idea whether the film would be a colossal flop, or whether it might put his long career in the movie industry in peril.
And while we usually think that risky investments are entitled to huge payoffs when they succeed, doesn’t the gospel message call us to a higher standard?
Missing the point Though Gibson’s movie certainly portrayed the brutality of Jesus’ last hours on earth, it was a far cry from giving us a vivid picture of Christ’s meaningful…

March 19th, 2004
Does God Really Want Our Catholic Guilt?

I ate meat this past Friday. I didn’t mean to; it just happened.
Abstinence malfunctionI was at lunch with a friend at Evergreen, one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the city, and I ordered orange-flavored chicken. I ate every bite of the perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, perfect combination of sweet and spicy meat. I simply forgot it was Lent.
Okay, so I also ate ice cream on Ash Wednesday. I was in a really bad mood.
My first Lent as a Catholic is off to a fantastic start.
Oh hellThe ice cream thing was on purpose. The meat was an accident. I’m not sure which I feel worse about. Or maybe I should feel guilty about the string of expletives that came out of my mouth upon realizing that I’d eaten…

March 17th, 2004
Missionary Bishop St. Patrick Was No Leprechaun

How much of what we do on St. Patrick’s Day is actually associated with the man St. Patrick? Turns out very little, actually.
Green beer? Leprechauns? Pinching? “Paddy” would say “Blarney—I wasn’t even born in Ireland!”
To the Irish in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. In Ireland, the day is celebrated by attending mass and praying for missionaries. All businesses are closed (except restaurants and pubs) and people celebrate most of the day like we would celebrate a lesser holiday.
Missionary man
At the age of 16, British-born ethnically Roman Patrick was captured by Irish…

March 1st, 2004
14 Psychics, an Election, and the Virgin Mary's Dating Service

Crystal Ball v. Gore
On the evening of the 2000 election, I sat before Judith Regan Live watching a psychic make a prediction about the outcome.
“We won’t know who won for a few weeks,” he said. “It will be a virtual tie. It will come down to one state, and it will be very, very close, but the winner will be Bush.”
I laughed; Judith laughed. The psychic did not.
The Catechism and my misfortune
I’ve long avoided having a psychic consultation. For one thing, the Church frowns upon them.
“All forms of divination are to be rejected,” states the Catechism. “Recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and other human beings?They contradict…

February 19th, 2004
Same Sex Marriage and the Ailing State of Our Families

Of soccer and marriageMarriage is the union of man and woman aiming to form a family. That’s its essence—its minimum requirements—and we have a fundamental rule that goes with that essence—we can only recognize marriages between a man and woman.
As a society we could change that rule.
We could also change the rules of soccer to allow players to use their hands to control the ball.
But then the game would no longer be soccer. I don’t know what you’d call it (rugboccer?), but the essence of soccer would be lost and, most fans would agree, the game would be ruined.
The same goes for marriage and the family: change the essence, and they no longer exist. They would be ruined.
The diseaseThat assumes,…

February 17th, 2004
Why The Apprentice Is the Best New Show on TV

I never thought that I’d find a spiritual lesson in a show run by Donald Trump, but The Apprentice seems to have something in every episode.
For those who haven’t seen the show, it consists of a face-off between two teams vying to outdo each other in a small business venture (everything ranging from street vendoring to planning a charity auction).
The winners get perks (visiting George Steinbrenner in the owner’s box at Yankee Stadium) while the losing team has to face Trump and his cronies in the dreaded “board room” where somebody will get fired (a preview of which you’ve surely seen in the commercial).The wisdom of The DonaldTrump realizes that in business, things don’t…

February 9th, 2004
George W. Bush Says God Chose Him to Be President

A man set apart by God
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas and decided to run for president, he described his decision in terms of a divine mandate: He had been “called,” a phrase that evokes the prophetic commissions of the Hebrew Scriptures. He summoned to the governor’s mansion all the leading pastors of the region to carry out a ritual of “laying on of hands,” a practice that corresponds above all to priestly or ministerial ordination.
His premonition of his presidential role during a national disaster was documented in a new book by Christian author Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of George W. Bush. Bush said to James Robinson: ‘I feel like God wants me to run for President.…

February 9th, 2004
And the Curse of Valentine's Day

Love, me, and the cosmos in FebruaryEvery year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I become philosophical. Who am I? Why have I been placed on this earth? Why am I always without a date on Valentine’s Day?
Yes, I’ve never had a date or a relationship during Valentine’s Day. Ever. It somehow happens that my relationships end before or begin after Valentine’s Day. So when it comes to February 14, I’ve got a clean slate—no history.
Danger: Single man aheadAnd, as you get older, into the latter part
of your twenties anyway, the (obvious) questions start popping up like sea shells on a beach:

“Oh, he’s still single?” (Incredulous tone) “So, when are…

February 9th, 2004
Wanting More from Music (and Less Boob on the Tube)

While flipping through my car stereo recently, I was shocked to hear Nelly say the F-word in his most recent song.
Me and Nelly
I’m not anti-Nelly. We did a movie together. Really. It’s called “Snipes.” But hearing an uncensored f-bomb in the middle of the day on the radio was something I’d never experienced. I thought it was illegal—so why not call the FCC?
The F in FCC
The FCC has been in the news a lot recently. First there was when Bono (of U2) said “f-ing brilliant” on the Golden Globes, and the media made a stink. The FCC didn’t fine him, because they said he used it as an adjective, not to describe a sex act. However, FCC chairman Michael Powell recently called…

February 8th, 2004
Making sense of a milestone

On a recent Saturday night, my husband and I went to a concert for an Irish punk band he had been following for over half a decade. We arrived at Columbus ‘ PromoWest Pavilion at 10:15pm, a deliberate move to bypass the opening acts. I stood on a bench behind Jim in the back of the dark, cavernous room, quietly grooving as I looked out over the luminous mass of sweating, moshing, grinding twentysomethings. As I checked out the shoulder tats and lingerie-and-jeans ensembles, with absolutely no desire to be a part of the action, I came to a realization.
I am old. Or at least semi-old. I have just turned 30, and this milestone birthday has caused me to reflect on such things. Yes, I know that 30 is not pass-the-Ensure or…

February 7th, 2004
The Working Poor: Invisible in America

In the midst of a contentious election year and on the heels of Barbara Ehrenreich’s acclaimed bestseller Nickel and Dimed comes a new book about real life on the poverty line in America. In David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America , the Pulitzer Prize-winning author provides powerful testimony to the realities of poverty in the United States from those who experience it first hand. His subjects discuss their lives with an honesty and frankness that are surprisingly free of harsh denunciations or bitter accusations; rather than indict, their poignant stories move us to examine our own lives and the values of the culture we live in.
Putting a face on povertyThe Working Poor is filled…

February 3rd, 2004
Celebrity and the Search for Decent Political Advice

My name is Tony Rossi and I’m a registered Republican.
There, I admit it.
I don’t remember what year I registered, but it was before I started paying much attention to politics. The GOP seemed to share my moral values so I signed up.
Leaning GOP but not a sealed deal
In the ensuing years, I’ve become more interested in the workings of government, our political system, and the people we elect to serve the public interest.
While I still lean conservative, I won’t automatically vote for the Republican on the ballot. And since I disagree strongly with Democrats on certain issues, they can’t count on my vote either. So in a big election year like 2004, where can I?and all those questioning…

January 20th, 2004
Sport for Its Own Sake Despite the Hype

It rumbles near. The playoffs have ended, and the “Event,” the “All” soon arrives, on February 1st, only the second time the Super Bowl has been played outside of January.
Why so late?
Hard to say. The NFL season expanded to sixteen games back in 1978, and the NFL added a “bye” week in the 1980s, thus expanding the season. Those might be partial reasons.
And, of course: There’s a two week delay this year between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
More hypeActually for years the NFL had a two-week delay before the Super Bowl, then it went to one week. I don’t know why it switched back to two weeks:

Some of my friends speculate that it’s scheduling…

January 8th, 2004
A Graffiti-Writing Ten-Year-Old Fixes His Mistake

Rushing out the door on my way to work, I was stopped cold by large yellow spray-painted letters: F-U-C-K. The word screamed from the white fence separating my apartment building from my neighbor’s home.
Worse yet, my car didn’t escape the graffiti. The trunk of my red Mazda now sported a couple yellow streaks.
The child villain?Occasionally, events happen to remind me I live in a big, scary, urban area. Unknown villains, who could care less about me, make their chilling presence felt.
But a couple days later my neighbor said she knew the identity of my city rogue. Rumors pointed to 10-year-old Stephen some five houses down.
What do I do now? I felt angry some punk kid could scar up my car and scare me with…

January 2nd, 2004
A GenX Spiritual Guru Looks at the Meaning of Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy.

In “Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are With
What We Buy,” Tom Beaudoin focuses on what he calls “economic spirituality.”
Branding ourselvesBeaudoin, who explored “the irreverent spiritual quest of Generation X” in his previous book, “Virtual Faith,” put off his doctoral dissertation in theology to embark on a self-reflective study of a “branding” economy. He wanted to examine how the goods we purchase have a personality all their own that we buy into.
He noticed that both men and women were attracted to certain brands, or perhaps more importantly the brand’s persona. Some wear baggy jeans associated with a tough streetwise…

December 25th, 2003
Celebrating Christmas Polish-American style

It’s not Mary giving birth or the baby Jesus Himself that brings it to mind, but standing in the window watching for the first star to appear in the sky so that we can commence Wigilia, the Polish Christmas vigil and meal.

Just my jobIt’s the job of the youngest child to watch for the first star, and, sans procreation, thirty years later that is still my role in the process. One generation removed from the “old country” my aunt keeps up the Wigilia meal tradition and cooks the meatless dinner.
The meal begins with the breaking and sharing of the oplatek, a rectangular wafer of much the same consistency as the host in church, with an image or scene of the Baby Jesus imprinted on it. There’s…

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