Busted Halo
Features : Politics & Culture
 
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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

June 6th, 2004
Mercy and Mourning for My Enemy

I couldn’t help it. “Good riddance,” I mumbled, as the news came through that Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States, had died on Saturday, June 5, 2004.
In these days following his passing, it has seemed like nearly every other American was praising his achievements—the president-savior who gave us “morning in America, the tough guy who felled the Berlin Wall, the grandfatherly “Great Communicator” who reassured us.
I scowl, feeling like the man in Bermuda shorts at the winter formal. By my accounting, President Reagan bequeathed our world one nightmare after another. How does someone like me honestly mourn his passing?
Ronnie and me back in college…

May 29th, 2004
Out of Grad School, in Search of Gainful Employment

Ah, graduation. The time when a person’s thoughts turn to six-figure salaries and a new wardrobe full of business casual clothes. The time when we leave the cocoon of school and enter the working world. The time to say good-bye to books, papers, and assignments, and hello to cubicles, paychecks, and water coolers.
The problem for me is, even though I’m graduating, I don’t have a job. Yes, I know you were going to ask.
Unemployable, that’s what you areI initially went to graduate school because I felt that, with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in religious studies, I was completely unemployable in the spring of 2002. I was also tired of waiting tables and neither I nor my parents wanted me living…

May 10th, 2004
Women share their thoughts on Mary

Editor’s note: Monday, August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. With this in mind we offer this two part series on Mary.

She’s called everything from Our Lady of Peace to the Mother of God to the New Eve. She smiles at us from Christmas cards and gazes serenely from Renaissance paintings. There’s no question that Mary is one of the most recognizable women in the world. Her significance in the Catholic tradition is indisputable.

But what is her significance in the lives of women today? How does this iconic figure speak to the twenty-first century female experience? Curious about Mary’s impact on modern women, I surveyed Catholic women from their early thirties to early…

May 10th, 2004
A young mother struggles with the desire to acquire.

Prior to college, I had never heard the phrase “simple living.” Ask most people today about the term, and they’ll probably mention Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s highly-rated reality show in which two overindulged children of wealth become tourists in the world of the less fortunate. I spent much of my sophomore year of college pretending I knew what my service-oriented, socially conscious roommate meant when she spoke idealistically of simple living. When I finally admitted I had no idea what she was talking about, she gave me a lengthy discourse on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement–a group that truly lives out the Sermon on the Mount, giving up material wealth in favor…

May 6th, 2004
Between Living Simply and Living Poor

I live on a red stripe dividing poverty and fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
My bedroom window frames an intricately twisted metal mass resembling a power station in front of rows and rows of brick buildings that most everyone calls ‘the projects.’ From this government-subsidised housing complex, I hear gun shots, angry voices, emergency sirens, and big-bass-booming low riders.
In contrast, my back deck peers over the roofs of the world-famous Music Row, where music stars record their platinum albums and Nashville Star produces its USA network television series.
Weird.
Goodbye to simplicity auto-pilotMy decision to live here on 15th Avenue reflects
a personal attempt to live simply . I spent most…

May 4th, 2004
A Chicago Play Captures Boston Clergy Sex Scandal As Tragedy

The scandal of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children is, after two years, still on the front pages of the nation’s papers. But playwright Michael Murphy, director David Zak, and the actors of Chicago’s Bailiwick Repertory Theatre have managed to give the story the feel of a classical tragedy.
SIN—A Cardinal Deposed is a two act drama distilled from transcripts of (now resigned) Boston archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law’s depositions taken between August 2002 and February 2003 in civil actions against priests of the Archdiocese of Boston. The Cardinal is portrayed (with remarkable fidelity to Law’s real-life mannerisms) by actor Jim Sherman.
SIN casts Law as a man of remarkable…

May 3rd, 2004
Confessing to Not Being in Your ‘Right' Mind

My biggest sin
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I last confessed on retreat a few weeks ago, but I unfortunately forgot one horrendous sin. I guess I didn’t realize how deeply in sin I was at the time (isn’t that always the case?)
I’m a Democrat.
Whew. It feels good to get this off my chest. I mean, I can deal with the fact that I often ignore the homeless on my way to work, and I’m glad the church isn’t thinking of refusing to give me communion because I think they’re dirty stinky people and I often don’t value their life as much as my own. But this Democrat thing….well I don’t quite know how I can ever expect God to forgive me of that.
How can I ever be worthy to receive…

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,…

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