Busted Halo
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January 9th, 2003
More Than Just Respectable and Nice?

Are you a good Catholic?
As we begin 2003, we are surrounded by war and rumors of war. What do you think of the Bush administration’s threats to declare war on Iraq?
Last weekend, outgoing Illinois Governor George
Ryan granted clemency to all death row inmates. Four of those inmates were convicted on the basis of now-recanted confessions which had been tortured out of them by Chicago police. Those four were pardoned and released from prison. Another 164 people will remain in prison for the rest of their lives, but will not be put to death by the state.…

January 2nd, 2003
The Oft Forgot Epiphany Celebration, Wise Men and All

Ever had a revelation? Ever, in the middle of everything ordinary, touched the depths of what is mystery ?
Despite the post-New Year hangovers, this is just the time for revelations.
According to ancient tradition, the 6th of January is the Christian feast of the Epiphany (Día de los reyes in Spanish)—celebrated Sunday, January 4 by Catholics and most Protestants in the U.S. and Canada. The word epiphany means “revelation” or “manifestation.”
The historical dirt
The early Christian origins of this feast are shrouded in mystery, but we know it came before Christmas, and scholars believe it was originally some kind of celebration of Jesus’ glory , probably at his baptism…

December 14th, 2002
The Economic Winners in a Conflict with Iraq

Who will be the benefactors of any war on Iraq ?
The winners are all about past relationships. And where President George W. Bush’s administration is concerned, those past relationships are measured in barrels of crude oil.
Take Condoleezza Rice , our nation’s current National Security Advisor. Rice owns the distinction of being the only cabinet member ever to have an oil tanker named after her. This honor comes from her spending a decade on the board of the Chevron Corporation . Such close relationships between the senior staff in the Bush administration and the oil industry are a hallmark of G.W.’s presidency.
Big oil interests will reap the benefits of war. And taxpayers will pay for their…

December 13th, 2002

This morning in Rome it was announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston. This brings to an end one part of the yearlong priest sex scandal in the Catholic Church, especially as it has been centered in Boston. Cardinal Law had been shown in various court documents and depositions to have knowingly reassigned to other parishes priests accused of molesting children and teenagers. Once reassigned many struck again.
In the Cardinal’s remarks at the time of his resignation, he apologized for this and asked the forgiveness of the people of Boston.
For many months, increasing numbers of Catholic laypeople, priests, and public officials had called for…

December 3rd, 2002
Reflections on Overeating in America

Remember the days before “super size”?
Remember when the smallest size coffee you could order was—you won’t believe this—a “small”?
When was the last time you ate out at a restaurant and felt full only after finishing your meal? Within the lifetime of Busted Halo visitors, it seems American society has actually institutionalized gluttony. Regarded as a sin since the earliest recording of the seven deadly sins 100 years before the birth of Christ, our culture has turned overeating into the norm. Bizarrely, we’ve somehow been able to do this while at the same time depicting the likes of Kate Moss as the pinnacle of beauty.
Cheap food, big portions, larger AmericansFood…

November 20th, 2002
pc muñoz and the amen corner a good deed in a weary world (beevine records)

What is a good deed? What’s the point of trying to be good in a world that’s clearly a mess? And how do you even begin to do that?
These are the themes that pc muñoz and the amen corner tackle in this, their third CD. This San Francisco-based music collective cook up a provocative—if uneven—stew of spoken-word, funk, gospel, and experimental electronics that gets your head bobbin’ to the beat and nodding thoughtfully to the lyrics too.
The CD takes the form of songs interspersed with or introduced by spoken word snippets that seem to be excerpts of man-on-the-street interviews. Average people are asked: what is a good deed? And then a song follows, as if to illuminate the thought just offered.…

November 19th, 2002
Across the Lines Beer Unites Us

Some people hate it, some people love it.
Some people call it an evil in our society, while others revel in it.
No, I am not talking about reality television. I am talking about that usually amber liquid known as beer.
About a month ago, around the world, people celebrated this wondrous concoction during the Oktoberfest celebration. In the spirit of those festivities, I am not going to write about the history of beer. Nor will I write any in-depth analysis of how it is brewed. Finally, I won’t even write about the differences between the various forms that this elixir can take. Rather I will keep this simply to why I personally enjoy the “fruit of the hops.”
Now, being of Irish heritage, some may claim…

November 7th, 2002
Beyond Empty Calories to Real Spiritual Sustenance

Oatmeal is not a favorite food of two-year-olds. Mine wasn’t too thrilled to see it arrive on the breakfast table this morning. He ate grudgingly, intermittent spoonfuls hitting the table and floor. I cajoled it into him, bite by bite, nudging the bowl back every time he pushed it away.
It would have been a lot less hassle just to slap a box of Reese Puffs or a couple of those frosted toaster treats in front of the kid. Or any other of those morning-time goodies that fill our supermarkets, such as breakfast pizza or one of those frosted, sugar-dipped, marshmallow-laden “cereals” always prancing across our TV screens. All fast, easy, and purportedly tasty, at least to kids.
Junky breakfast food…

November 1st, 2002
Electric Cars and Public Health, Yesterday and Today

Can a government honestly say it’s an advocate for the public’s health while siding with the auto industry against electric cars quotas?
It’s doubtful given the ill effects of smog and pollution from gas guzzling automobiles. Nonetheless, the White House is now supporting the automobile industry in its legal bid to eliminate requirements that auto manufacturers sell electric cars in California.
Here’s irony for you: California is home to some of the nation’s most smog-choked communities. Want more irony? Leaders in Washington have been clamoring about dwindling oil reserves and voted for a war on oil-rich Iraq (Iraq possesses huge areas of promising but unexplored oil…

October 31st, 2002
Halloween and a Childhood Discovery

When I was about ten years old growing up in Havana, my friends and I made an awesome discovery.
We had been rehearsing for the Christmas pageant in the church basement, and one day during our explorations between scenes we opened a previously unseen door to the unexpected. In the room, in the half-light from the high basement windows, we could see faces.
Yikes We jumped back in the doorway. Some of the figures were standing, others leaning, some were missing their hands, all of them stared at us with impenetrable glass eyes.
These statues stored in our church basement probably spanned 300 years, each shrouded in inscrutability. In Latin America, Spanish Catholicism had mingled with the indigenous and given us this…

October 1st, 2002
Ten Spots They'll Never Find Our Secure and Undisclosed Vice President

Any cop will tell you it’s the guilty who run at the scene of a crime.
Believe that and you’ll find Vice President Dick Cheney’s disappearances during recent terrorist alerts puzzling. During last month’s “code orange” terrorist alert Cheney was once again whisked off to what the White House calls “secure and undisclosed” locations, thus leaving the press (and the largely unprotected public) curious as bees.
But not to fret. Following is a list of “secure and undisclosed” locations where no one will ever think to look for Dick Cheney:
1. In Kosovo cleaning toilets for the Halliburton Company. The Dallas-based company Cheney headed for five…

September 11th, 2002
Taking to the Skies and Trusting in God

“Turbo props are ok. They won’t hijack a turbo prop,” my ex-boyfriend insisted as I squirmed and looked for more reasons not to fly to my upcoming family reunion four states away. “There’s not enough fuel on a turbo prop,” he continued, “they need a lot of fuel.”
I haven’t flown in a year and I can’t believe that deliberating about whether or not my plane is a good one to hijack and fly into things with is what travel has come to. I used to love flying. Especially flying cross country. I’d stare out the window (I always got a window seat) and watch the rolling eastern green hills pass into the rigid squares and rectangles that bespoke the Midwestern…

September 4th, 2002
Life at the Bottom of the Corporate Heap

A few weeks before she finished her pharmacy degree, my younger sister called to tell me she’d just been offered a job paying something like $60,000 a year. My mind sprouted dark, envious thoughts as she described the retirement plan and giant signing bonus, but I gritted my teeth and congratulated her. “Wow,” I said, trying not to choke, “good for you.”
That phone call left me depressed for months. I had logged just as many decent grades and years in university as my sister, more even. No high-paying career for me, though. Thanks to a combination of choice, chance, and a not-quite-planned baby, I hadn’t gotten any farther than the bottom of the corporate heap. I earned my living…

August 17th, 2002
Corporate Scandal Calls Us Back to Our Ethical Roots

There’s a favorite story in my family that goes something like this…
My father-in-law, a Frenchman, had just arrived in Latin America. He made his way to the government offices in the capital to get his papers in order. Upon arriving he was met by a polite doorman who, noticing his accent, addressed him as “Monsieur.” My father-in-law explained his business in broken Spanish and asked for directions to the government offices he needed. The doorman smiled a benevolent smile and, looking around at the throngs of people standing in various lines, asked him, “Do you have about $100 in cash in your wallet, Monsieur?” “Yes, I do.” “Very well, follow me.”…

August 1st, 2002
23 Defect at World Youth Day in Toronto - Right in Front of My Face

The Cuban exile now living in Canada told the Cubans at the World Youth Day celebrations in Toronto: “If there is any way I can help you at all, please let me know.”
Ismael Sambra spoke these words to a group of young adult Cubans at a picnic I attended during the pope�s visit there. I thought Sambra was just showing some northern hospitality.
I totally missed it. Actually he was offering passage on Toronto’s underground railroad for freedom-seeking Catholic Cubans. Political asylum. The picnic was July 27. On July 28, it was reported that some 23 of the 200 Cubans attending World Youth Day had defected.
Ismael Sambra, in interviews, said he was coordinating safe housing and legal aid for them…

June 4th, 2002
A response to the bishops' recent proposals on the sexual abuse crisis

After reviewing the latest proposals from the U.S. Catholic bishops, I was pleasantly surprised with many of their recommendations. However, the writers of this document still don’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong, many of the U.S. bishops have gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to speaking out in favor of the victims, accepting questions from people in their diocese, and working for healing for the church at large. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. is one bishop who I immensely respect. Recently at a young adult gathering, McCarrick answered many questions about the scandal with great candor and empathy for a church that needs healing and openness. And there are other…

June 3rd, 2002

Twenty years ago this past week a 27-year old Chinese-American man and a few of his friends walked into a Detroit bar to celebrate his bachelor party. A few hours later Vincent Chin was dead.
Who and what killed Vincent Chin on June 19, 1982? Was it uncontrolled anger? Drunkenness? Racism? A baseball bat run amuck?
Just a fight in a bar?
Two white men – Ronald Ebens and his twenty-something stepson Michael Nitz?got into a fight with Chin, were expelled from the bar, and eventually pinned him down at a nearby McDonald’s where Ebens cracked Chin’s skull with a baseball bat.
Vincent’s last words were “It isn’t fair.”
At the time Detroit residents were confronting automobile…

May 28th, 2002
How much money should the Catholic Church pay, or not pay, to settle current sex abuse claims?

How about $0?
Now, before you get into your car and head over to my place to tar and feather me, please rest assured that I, like you, believe that the Catholic Church owes a very great deal to every victim of sex abuse. I just happen to think that cash is a fast and easy way out for the Church and its victims.
By the same token, it seems to me that any cash settlement will neither erase the pain nor simplify the spiritual lives of those affected.
When has the doling out of cash ever promoted healing?
Somehow, with all this talk of millions, it seems that spirituality, compassion, and God have all been shoved to the wings. Instead of an honest attempt at seeking change in the way it enriches the lives of its parishioners, we now have…

May 1st, 2002
Winging It: Meditations of a Young Adult (Orbis Books)

A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. -JOSEPH HELLER
I just received an invitation to a wedding in India from a woman I stayed with in Calcutta nearly seven years ago. Her youngest son is getting married, and she said it would mean a lot if I could come.
I chuckle aloud as I open the envelope, because I can’t help but remember that episode from Seinfeld when Elaine is invited to her friend’s wedding in India. She shows up to spite the friend she thinks doesn’t really want her there and discovers that the groom is her former lover.
The image of Elaine, drunk, with the nose ring, reminds me of the photo I took with two petite Indian woman. Towering over them…

April 20th, 2002
Wishing you many happy years together...

Mike and Marion Perracchio pronounced their wedding vows at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 20th, in New York City. Their column will be returning soon, but here are a few wedding photos:…

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