Busted Halo
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October 10th, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger lately — righteous anger; spilling-over-the-top you are such total crud anger; you don’t deserve to be called a member of the human race anger; and what do you have in your ears, elephant turds, anger.
The level of rage in our national discourse seems to have hit a new low, or high, depending on how you use your statistics. Name-calling seems to be the preferred method of campaigning and “discussion” — although we can’t really use that term, can we, because to “discuss” means to listen to, and I simply don’t see a lot of listening going on.
The thing that I find most dismaying about this pathetic level of discourse…

October 9th, 2012

When I first arrived in Egypt as a working journalist it was June 2011 and everyone I encountered was still ecstatic about the revolution. Tahrir Square was still a symbol of the uprising and many Egyptians still held their military de facto rulers in high regard. Even on my way to Tahrir, my cab driver asked me proudly, “So, what do you think of our revolution? Isn’t it amazing?” His smile lit up his eyes. I nodded, saying it was impressive indeed.
This was in stark contrast to my next visit, when I came back for the one-year anniversary of the revolution on January 25, 2012. The growing unemployment and subsequent poverty had finally taken their toll on the people who now cared little about non-tangibles…

October 2nd, 2012

In the past two weeks of hitting the radio and TV waves almost on a daily basis promoting a new book, I have been transformed. In the physical sense, yes — I’ve gained a good seven pounds and am unsuccessfully masking it with baggier shirts and new husky style dress pants. But this transformation transcends trans fats — in a more figurative sense, I have become something anew — according to a colleague at work, I think I may now be a religious pundit.
Some quick research on this word brings to light a definition that explains a pundit to be, “a learned person in media, or someone who at least appears to be learned.” It is the second part of this definition that I take solace in and will…

September 25th, 2012
Acknowledging and responding to the violence and suffering in today's world

Last week, an interview on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” with former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, began with this exchange:
Jon Stewart: “How’s the world.”
Kofi Annan: “Messy.”
Indeed, the world is in a chaotic and cruel place. In the Syrian civil war alone up to 11,000 people have been killed. Yet the day-to-day events of the conflict seem to be just a blip in the news. Recent developments say that the government has threatened chemical weapons against Syrian rebels who seized a border crossing at Turkey. Innocents are daily wounded and killed with stray bullets. Last month more than 200 Syrians were massacred. What drives a government to…

September 13th, 2012

Mose Gingerich is a thirtysomething with a wife and kids. He lives in a tidy brick house in Columbia, Missouri. He sells Toyotas. On the surface, his life seems utterly unremarkable. But it’s not. Mose Gingerich spent the first half of his life as a member of an Old Order Amish community.
National Geographic Channel recently ran a series examining the lives of young adult Amish who have left their communities and their faith (which, one could easily argue, are one and the same). The series, “Amish: Out of Order,” details the lives of these individuals as they struggle to come to grips with the strange, fast-paced “English” world and the heartbreaking, often irreversible separation from their…

August 30th, 2012
Affirming the dignity of work on Labor Day and throughout the year

This Labor Day, many of us across the country will enjoy a day off. We might even pause and celebrate work and labor with our families and neighbors. Unfortunately, some low-wage workers will still be working, and it is those workers we should be celebrating and whose concerns we should be lifting up.
Employers are constantly finding new ways to cut costs, often at the expense of the very workers who help sustain their business. Workers suffer from low-wages that don’t provide adequate income and force families to go without necessities. They struggle with no health benefits, no paid sick days, and stolen wages. Since the economic crisis of 2008, many Interfaith Worker Justice-affiliated worker centers have…

August 14th, 2012
An abandoned, graffiti-covered lot transformed into a community garden where vegetables -- and faith -- grow

Lucy weeds and waters her two community garden plots every morning after walking her son Lester to school across the street. In the summer, when school is out, Lucy brings Lester to the garden. They grow green tomatillos, jalapeños, green peppers, and plum and cherry tomatoes. In the fall comes lettuce, cabbage and cilantro.
“I let go of everything when I am in the garden,” Lucy says. “I see how wonderful God’s creation is in the colors, fruits, flowers, butterflies and birds. If my son isn’t interrupting, it’s a moment alone in silence where I can say my prayers right in the middle of the plants. I think about my family, my problems. Everything that’s happened is erased.…

July 19th, 2012

Very few things are actually important to know in real time. Some things are fun… to know in real time, like watching live sports or reality show results episodes, but it is rare that our knowing something sooner makes a difference. There’s a very long but fascinating post on SCOTUSblog about CNN’s fumbling of reporting on the Supreme Court decision concerning the Affordable Care Act. In it, SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein says CNN (and for a shorter time, Fox) got the result exactly wrong, stating definitively that the mandate and bill were dead, because of three things. Two — lack emergency procedures and not trusting reliable sources — involve process, but the third is interesting:

June 8th, 2012

Religion and faith have always played an important role in my life, shaping my views of the world and informing my career path in human rights and peacemaking. Attending religious education as a child and young adult exposed me to the views and teachings of the Church. There, I learned the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The emphasis on loving all of God’s creatures and respecting humanity significantly shaped my view of the world. Little did I know, the solid foundation of peace and justice in Catholic social teaching would contribute so much to my future career and passion for human rights and peacemaking.
As a child, I wanted to be a writer…

May 16th, 2012

Easter is a liturgical time when we celebrate the Resurrection of the One who “makes all things new” and anticipate the descent of the Holy Spirit, through whom God creates and “renew[s] the face of the earth,” at Pentecost. While bodily resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit clearly impact the human person, the Easter Season extends to and includes all of creation.
As I’ve prayed the Liturgy of the Hours this Easter Season, I have been reminded of the intimate connection between Easter and God’s call to care for creation. Building on the ancient Jewish rhythm of daily prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours follows a four-week cycle of psalms and canticles. The canticle…

May 7th, 2012
A look at how young evangelicals approach faith and politics today

Politically speaking, what’s up with young evangelicals? Evangelicals are 26 percent of the U.S. population, a quarter of them under 30, and, as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life reports, “Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic,” a pattern that “may well continue in 2012.”
For starters, evangelicalism is an approach to Protestantism that can be practiced in many denominations. It emphasizes a renewal of faith toward an inner, personal relationship with Jesus; the mission to bring others to that relationship; the cross as a symbol of salvation…

May 2nd, 2012
Reflections from a college graduate one year out

I can still remember the feeling of numbness that hit me when I hung up the phone one afternoon last September.
I’d been slated to go to Vietnam for six months with a friend of mine, and there were 12 days before we were scheduled to take off. Problem was, most of those six months were still unplanned and important things like, oh, lodging and vaccinations and visa issues were still completely up in the air. I liked the idea of living in the moment and taking each day as an adventure, but not as much as I liked the idea of avoiding malaria or getting in trouble with Vietnamese government officials.
A friend with connections in Vietnam had been planning the trip, and with 12 days left, I figured he’d dropped the ball. I decided…

April 13th, 2012

“I am Trayvon Martin!”
This has been the rallying cry of so many people (Black and other races too) since the shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old African-American teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer in a suburb outside Orlando, Florida. The watchman, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense and said he pursued the young black teenager because he looked “suspicious.” This has resulted in an outcry from the black community, and other supporters, asking for justice.
This lack of respect for black male life seems to be a bad story repeated throughout the history of this country. Stereotyping, prejudice, and racism are nothing new to our community (or to other minority groups either), but when a national…

March 19th, 2012

I have a confession to make. I am horrible at fasting. Epically horrible. My Lenten fast usually devolves into me eating precisely that from which I have vowed to abstain in a shameful and ridiculous display of my apparent lack of self-mastery. And then (good Catholic that I am) I feel guilty. Epically guilty. There are some for whom this sort of fast (minus, of course, my aforementioned pre-Easter meltdown) is spiritually gratifying and meaningful. To you I say a hearty and sincere, “Huzzah!” It just does not suit me. It does not make me feel any more prepared to walk with Jesus on his way to Calvary and it does not call me to joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. It makes me feel cranky… and ashamed.…

January 19th, 2012

It was all of 13 minutes after midnight on Tuesday night when I went to look up something in Wikipedia… even though I knew the blackout protest was coming and had posted about it. If you didn’t know what was going on or would like to learn a little more about SOPA and PIPA, with hopefully a slightly spiritual angle, read on. But I want to stress, this is not a partisan issue. As I’ll explain later, the line between supporters and opponents has little to do with party affiliation. As Wikipedia said, in its message about participating in the blackout:
It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web… although Wikipedia’s…

January 16th, 2012

Since I wrote for Busted Halo about Mitt Romney’s first run for president in 2008, much has changed in the public landscape regarding knowledge and perceptions of Mormonism. Americans today find themselves swept up in a “Mormon Moment,” thanks to Romney’s second run, Jon Huntsman Jr.’s candidacy, and popular media coverage of The Book of Mormon musical. Rather than depending on Big Love for their (inaccurate) understanding of this world religion, Americans can now find informed reports in sources from the Washington Post… to NPR. Still, persistent myths and misperceptions blight even the most well-intentioned reporters’ pieces. The following will help give Busted

January 11th, 2012
One woman's work to end human trafficking led her but first to prayer

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you’re Joy Brooks, every day is a chance to raise awareness about the horror of modern-day slavery and trafficking. She started the organization Prayer For Freedom to call people to greater awareness and encourage prayer for change.
Human trafficking includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking. It’s estimated that 27 million people live in slavery today. Countries around the world, including the United States, are sites of origin, transit, destination and/or internal trafficking.
Joy spent several years working internationally with different mission and church organizations. In 2009, when she was living in Romania and teaching English…

January 1st, 2012
(1915-2011)

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Lately I’ve been thinking about the Beatitudes, as well as the Corporal Works of Mercy, thinking that if I could just grasp and follow these fundamentals of the faith, I could actually live the Christian life and truly do what Jesus asks of us. It should be simple enough to care for those less fortunate, but it always seems so difficult when you get down to the practicalities of it: I work 40 hours a week, my commute to and from work takes a lot of time, I need to keep up my social life, friend and family time, my movie watching, and I should probably try and fit exercise somewhere in there — so where’s the time to try to take

December 28th, 2011
(1955-2011)

Steve Jobs was never a corporate man. The early personal computer industry was an outgrowth of the radical back-to-the-land ethos and even the name “Apple” was intentionally folksy and home-brewed. For Jobs, the personal computer wasn’t a way to bring work home or improve the productivity and accountability of employees. His goal was always computer as appliance, computer as an empowering tool for regular people. He pointed to Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog…, which I grew up poring through, as a key inspiration. The story of Apple’s products is a story of getting closer and closer to that vision. The infamous 1984 Superbowl ad set up Apple as the opposite of IBM’s (Microsoft’s)

December 26th, 2011

As the year draws to a close, we’re reminded of many significant endings in 2011. Here’s a short list of what got our (and the world’s) attention. What would you add to the list?
U.S. Military Operations in Iraq — …After nine years, the Iraq War (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the U.S. military) is over. U.S. troops returned home earlier this month, just in time for the holidays. By the numbers: Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed, more than 32,500 were wounded with thousands more suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. An estimated 110,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the war. Here’s a link to a photo

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