Busted Halo
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January 22nd, 2014

When I was diagnosed with pericarditis — an inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart — while volunteering in Peru, the reaction of a number of people surprised me. Until that point, most of my Peruvian friends had demonstrated no medical proclivity whatsoever. Suddenly, I had no shortage of people anxious to share any tidbit of therapeutic information they could.
“You’re lonely,” said some. “You need a girlfriend. Or more male friends.” While I appreciated their concern that I was living with four female roommates, this theory seemed to fall short in explaining how my heart’s membrane swelled to unhealthy proportions.
“You are so skinny,” offered the cooks at the parish…

December 31st, 2013
College football bowl games capture the joy and hope of the holiday season

We are in the midst of a very special season of the year: College Football Bowl Season. Rarely do non-professional sports dominate American culture more than during the slew of college football bowl games that occur around Christmas and the New Year. As a college football fan, I have always enjoyed watching and attending bowl games regardless of who was playing. I’ve often observed bowl games as rather joyful experiences and filled with hope. Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the season, or if each team was playing in their most desired bowl game, teams and players always seem pretty jazzed to be playing in the game. They always give it their all and are dedicated to doing their best to bring home a victory.…

December 12th, 2013
Remembering the hungry during seasons of plenty

It’s difficult to write about hunger. First, hunger isn’t a pleasant topic. It challenges us to ask hard questions about how we meet everyone’s basic human needs. Second, I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. I could talk about the obscene number of children who go to bed hungry each night. I could talk about the proposed cuts to SNAP benefits (aka food stamps). I could talk about food deserts and lack of access to nutritious foods. I could talk about how healthy food is more expensive than junk food, and many who can’t afford it face health problems like obesity and diabetes. I could talk about how people with disabilities and people who are elderly have disproportionately…

November 19th, 2013

Every year on Thanksgiving, 20 to 30 members of the DeRose clan descend upon one cornucopia-adorned suburban Chicago home for turkey(s), mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Each year on this particular holiday, I am reminded of the many blessings in my life, especially the blessing of family. I am overcome with gratitude for the community and all the chaos that these folks bring to my life. (Roll around with a toddler on the floor for 30 minutes after turkey and two glasses of wine, and you will feel both exhausted and filled with pure joy.)
Many family traditions for Americans mirror my own. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all that is bountiful in our lives and give thanks for the gifts we are given. It is also a time…

October 29th, 2013
How to avoid compassion fatigue and continue to help those affected by tragedy

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy killed 72 Americans and did $65 billion worth of damage to the East Coast, not to mention the lives and property lost in other countries. I’ve never been to the Northeast, where Sandy wrought the bulk (though not all) of her destruction, but I have a pretty good idea of what people up there have been going through for the past 12 months: an endless tug-of-war with insurance companies and contractors, crippling financial hardships, and a whole lot of emotional stress.
For those of us far from the affected areas, it’s easy to forget about natural disasters. Life gets busy, the news cycle moves on, and the stories and images that made us pull out our checkbooks and our rosaries…

October 22nd, 2013

This evening, as I left an Amman café after sharing a croissant with an old friend, I was greeted simultaneously by the echoes of the evening call to prayer and a bright full moon in the fading light.
“Allahu akbar!” called the muezzin, “God is greater!” The moon, perfectly round like a communion wafer, was suspended above the power lines and square, cement rooftops.
At the end of a day which included more joys than I can count, and a month of challenges, including moving, missing family and friends, and settling into life in a new city, I couldn’t help but notice this more-than-coincidental convergence of aural and visual. These two very ordinary events — the call to prayer…

October 10th, 2013

The headlines at the top of the NYTimes.com website today were all about Washington. I noticed one story buried on the page about Syria, and caught myself comparing the government shutdown here to the civil war there. Things are no better off for the Syrian people than they were two weeks ago, but our attention has shifted. Syria’s just so far away.
I remember an evening six or seven years ago when one of my college classes met at our professor’s house for dinner. Somehow the discussion turned into a debate on the war in Iraq. After a few points and counterpoints had been shared, a classmate stopped the argument in its tracks. She said that it was impossible for us to imagine what it meant to live in a war-torn land.…

October 9th, 2013
Different opinions on the controversial new burger topped with a communion wafer

Who doesn’t like a good burger? Well — that depends on who you ask and in this case, what the toppings are. A Chicago restaurant called Kuma’s Corner is serving up a new menu item this month called a “Ghost Burger.” It’s a 10-ounce patty topped with an unconsecrated communion wafer and red wine reduction sauce. Sounds a little bit like…Hey wait a minute! The burger was created to honor the Swedish band Ghost and has stirred up some controversy. Louis Sullivan, Busted Halo Intern and Contributor, and Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, Busted Halo Associate Director, weigh in on the question: Is Kuma’s Corner Ghost Burger offensive?
Louis Sullivan:… Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Ghost

September 25th, 2013

I don’t usually share memes. I have nothing against memes. I just don’t want to be that person: the one who shares nearly every meme; the person who gets sucked in by a misattributed quote and serene landscape pairing. If I do share a meme, I’ve probably deliberated about doing so for at least five minutes, completed a hasty calculation of my meme-per-week rate, and actually thought it was pretty good, or quite funny.
One meme I did share was NBC’s tweeted photo showing the election of Pope Benedict versus that of Pope Francis. This photo, which was later debunked as misleading, was trying to make a point that technology has rapidly made its permanent home at every historic moment, even the election of a pope.…

August 28th, 2013
Fixing the broken immigration system for America's most vulnerable workers

Earlier this summer, immigration agents raided the weekly Bible study that Omar, a New Orleans day laborer, and his family regularly attended. Along with four other men, Omar was handcuffed and arrested in front of his 4-year-old and 5-month-old daughters, both U.S. citizens.
No one should be threatened for seeking work in order to provide a good life for their family, or for being active and contributing members of their community. Those aspirations are human.
Deepening and exploring our faith is a fundamental part of the Christian journey. Omar deserves the right to grow in his faith. Can you imagine being at a Bible study and having the police break it up?
A number of immigrant rights organizations and people…

August 27th, 2013

One day in my all-girls high school religion class, the conversation turned, as it often did, to abortion. Someone ventured that to carry an unwanted baby to term was a difficult thing, and another student retorted, “Well, if she didn’t want a baby, she should have kept her legs closed.”
Yikes, I thought, but before I or anyone else could say anything, another girl slammed one palm on her desk and shot the other one into the air.
“Why didn’t the woman close her legs,” the girl said when called upon. “Why don’t you ask why didn’t the man strap it down?”
The class erupted into laughter, but the moment stuck with me. I think of that memory now, nearly (oh…

July 23rd, 2013
Why fueling the obsession with Kate and William’s baby might be just what we need.

There’s just not that much good news in the world today. It seems that every time you turn on the TV or listen to the radio (people still listen to the radio, right?), the airwaves are flooded with tales of sadness and suffering. There is political turmoil in Egypt, the city of Detroit has declared bankruptcy, and another earthquake has ravaged China.
Naturally, then, when a spark of good manages to make its way through all the muck, people are bound to get excited. Such is the case with the buzz around the “royal baby.” A media frenzy has erupted around the birth of Kate and William’s first child, complete with round-the-clock baby watches and memorabilia galore. From special donuts and hotel rooms to iPod…

July 22nd, 2013
Why food pantries and other organizations dedicated to stopping hunger should be on your radar this summer

When are you most aware of people in need? Is it during Thanksgiving, when you are giving thanks for what you have, and being reminded that others might not be so lucky? Is it around Christmas, when the spirit of giving is almost tangible? Not coincidentally, the holidays are when food pantries get the majority of their donations. But can you guess when food pantries need the most help? Now. That’s right. Summer is actually the busiest time for food pantries and soup kitchens alike because children are no longer receiving meals from their schools. But when is the thought of volunteering least likely to cross our minds? Now as well. We are busy barbecuing, going to the beach, and enjoying the summer sun. There is no…

July 11th, 2013
Be the star of your own summer blockbuster and save the world!

Hot weather, cold drinks, maybe a trip to the beach? It’s summertime, people! And while you might be tempted over vacation to lounge poolside and work on that tan, remember that there are also plenty of opportunities to give back to your community and beyond. So, be the star of your own summer superhero movie and get out there and save the world!

Help the Poor
People live in poverty worldwide and, in ever increasing numbers, in the United States. We can all do something to help the poor — from volunteering our time to donating to a local charity. This summer, do your part to support your neighbors in need.

Volunteer — Use some of your free time this summer to volunteer and work with the poor. Find out what…

May 7th, 2013

I don’t know about you, but just writing the word “anxiety” makes me anxious. It’s sort of like a virus. You see someone sneezing, try to escape the droplets spraying out, but still get the darn cold no matter what you do. I suspect fear and anxiety are somewhat the same: We catch them from others and we grow them inside ourselves as well.
My older brother has a dear stepdaughter attending Brandeis, and she was in lockdown for an entire day (as was all of Boston) during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers. It was scary and anxious, and my usual ways of dealing with this fear didn’t seem to be working so well. I spent time on the phone with my brother and wife — texted a few million…

April 25th, 2013

The Christian narrative is, to borrow the cliché, a matter of life and death.
I do not mean this in a Bible-thumping, accept-Jesus’-death-to-save-your-soul-and-find-life sense. Rather, I am talking about the possibility of the most gruesome, violent of deaths giving way to the most dramatic and powerful of new lives.
A few weeks ago, my Jesuit Volunteer community shared dinner with a group of Sacred Heart nuns. Before the meal, a Spanish woman living with the nuns and discerning a call to religious life led us in a series of activities reflecting on resurrection. In one instance, she pointed out that Jesus’ female followers were the first to learn of His resurrection. She suggested that this is because…

April 24th, 2013

Back in 2004, Victoria Ruvolo made national news when an 18-year-old named Ryan hurled a 20-pound frozen turkey at her moving car. It shattered her facial bones, damaged her esophagus, and caused some brain damage. It nearly killed her, but at Ryan’s sentencing Victoria forgave him and asked for a shorter prison sentence.
Here’s her reason:
I went through all the emotions that anyone would have: Why me? What did I do in my life that was so bad that this had to happen to me? Then I realized God is everywhere, and if he is everywhere, then he knew I was in such great physical condition and because of that, God knew I would be able to live through this terrible ordeal. That’s what kept me moving on, to go through my…

April 18th, 2013

When I first heard about Earth Day, I wasn’t on board. It fell on my birthday, and I was suspicious about anything that could potentially cut into my gift-getting. However, during its big push in 1990, I was convinced — even frightened — that if I didn’t do my part in conservation efforts, Mother Earth would be doomed. She looked so sad in those cartoon depictions. I took immediate heed and started to “go green.” I stopped turning on the TV just to have noise in the house. When brushing my teeth, I kept the spigot on low and turned it off when not rinsing. Even as a family, we instituted some environmentally friendly efforts. We reused containers creatively, started recycling,…

April 17th, 2013

When I got home from the office Monday, I did what I do most days: I changed into running clothes and put on my sneakers, readying myself for a few miles to alleviate the daily stress. Of course, Monday wasn’t like any other day.

April 11th, 2013

I was looking at juxtaposition. In front of me, sitting in the middle of a dirt field, was a 7-year-old boy. His clothes were covered in dust, and as the sun baked the sweat on his brow, his mouth grimaced, and his eyes conveyed a pained thirst. He looked up to me, but didn’t hold my gaze, as I know I looked just behind him at a five-star hotel and a water park. It was a mere hundred yards away from where he sat, but a 15-foot concrete wall, a coil of barbed wire, and 60 years of political tension segregated him from it.
This was the summer of 2012, and I was standing in the Dbayeh Christian Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon. For most Americans, and most 17-year-old high school students, such an excursion would be atypical.…

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