Busted Halo
Features : Politics & Culture
 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
May 6th, 2010
My Identity, My Culture, My Faith

I guess I wasn’t all that different from most college freshman who get swept off their feet. Every year, scores of first-year collegians return home for Christmas break itching to try out all of their newfound wisdom on the folks back home: psychology majors suddenly become experts in diagnosing their families’ dysfunction, philosophy majors proselytize about existentialism with a new convert’s zeal. 
After finishing my first semester as a theology major at Notre Dame I returned home to my Mexican-American family in El Paso, Texas, poised and ready to judge the religiosity and spirituality of any relative I came into contact with.  Armed with words like hermeneutics, eschatology and praxis,…

May 4th, 2010
In search of the humanity behind the immigration debate

Recent passage of new legislation in Arizona has brought the divisive issue of immigration to the forefront of the national consciousness once again. This latest salvo comes on the one-year anniversary of the debut of our Busted Borders video series, in which BustedHalo.com — along with the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation — began covering the issue of immigration in a unique way.
Busted Borders is an attempt to use the web’s unfiltered nature to move the immigration debate away from abstractions and statistics to reveal the deeply human dimension of the issue. Instead of contributing to the glut of coverage about immigration, Busted Halo decided to feature stories by immigrants…

April 28th, 2010
"Clinging to hope"

In this episode, Benita talks about her hopes and dreams for attending law school.
In episode one, Benita discusses her background and the difficulties she faced growing up.
In episode two, Benita describes how a routine traffic stop has turned her life upside down.
In episode three, Benita talks about the story of Esther and God’s plan.…

April 26th, 2010
Helping others see the horrors of human trafficking

When Anthony Dodero and two of his church friends decided to quit their jobs and head out to Thailand, it wasn’t a thrill ride they were looking for, but the truth about a very horrific modern-day crime — human trafficking.
It is estimated by the United Nations that at least… 1.3 million young girls and women are sold into sex slavery worldwide. When Anthony read about this issue, he wanted to see it for himself, so he and his two best friends, Liem and Chad, set out to investigate, documenting the trip along the way. They called it The Blind Project.
“We called it The Blind Project because we were very blinded to the issue, and were hoping this trip would ‘unblind’ us,” Anthony said

April 22nd, 2010
An Earth Day reflection on the link between environmentalism and faith

One of the first and key places I encountered the spiritual ideas that eventually led to my baptism was Estes Park, high in the Rockies, amidst Birkenstock-wearing radical environmentalists. It was an interesting time for politics in the late 80s and early 90s and I was looking for new ideas. So were lots of people, and they were talking with each other and reading each other’s books despite divergent backgrounds. Some were grassroots activists, some academics; some were pragmatic, some utopian. There were communitarians and Greens, libertarians and socialists.
I came upon something new (to me) there, something I’d never heard of before with my atheist/Protestant upbringing: natural law.…

April 20th, 2010
Pulling Together After a Missed Teachable Moment

Gratitude and gloom colored my view of the debate over health care reform.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, I learned that my chronic leukemia had morphed into a much more formidable lymphoma. It was not, statistically speaking, the cancer one would choose, especially as a husband and a father with two teenaged sons and a 20-year-old daughter. But I had sound health insurance, which allowed me the best treatment at one of the nation’s best hospitals. I was, therefore, especially grateful when reminded about the tens of millions of other Americans who lack medical insurance altogether.
The gloom descended when legislative dynamics seemed to pit the demands of Social Justice against the rights of the Unborn.…

April 13th, 2010
The world's last three Shakers stand strong, proud and hopeful

Strolling along a quiet farm road, flanked by 19th-century white clapboard buildings, Frances Carr is an endangered species in a threatened habitat.
She is one of the world’s last Shakers, a member of a pious separatist community that boasted 6,000 members and 19 settlements in the 1800s. But today only three believers remain at the last active settlement, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, nestled in a wooded, lake-fringed and white pine-perfumed swath of southern Maine.
Though she rarely grants interviews, the oldest living Shaker speaks now.
Easing her cushioned frame onto an antique bench in the waiting room of the 125-year-old brick Dwelling House, the soft-faced Carr, 82, tenderly sings an old…

April 13th, 2010
My visit to Mumbai's red light district

So this is where my work for Catholic Relief Services had led me: to a brothel. I was in the middle of a red light district in the go-go city of Mumbai on India’s west coast. The social worker we were with strolled casually into a shed-like doorway and starting chatting with one of the women. I stood tensely, aware that in the metal cubby right behind me a young woman in a spangled sari was sleeping soundly.

It was midday and there was no “activity” going on. But the tiny, sardine-tin brothel — its walls painted an incongruous robin’s egg blue — was appalling enough. Each woman slept and worked in a metal room that was perhaps eight feet by six feet, far smaller than walk-in closets I’ve seen in America. A footlocker was on a shelf above the narrow plank-like bed. Sometimes, my guide told me, the women’s children were kept under the bed at night — occasionally drugged so as not to make noise that would disturb clients.

When the social worker — a Catholic Relief Services partner — walks through this neighborhood, she’s focused on how to get the women’s kids in school. She’d seen it all. I hadn’t. It was unnerving to think how many women were in the brothels that honeycombed these alleys.

Worst of all was thinking how many were there against their will. My guides and I walked out of the brothel quietly — it seemed easy enough. A few children and older women on the side street stared at us. We kept on for a few blocks until we reached our car.

Hundreds of young women can’t walk away. “There are henchmen hanging around to catch any prostitute who tries to escape,” says Priti Patkar matter-of-factly. For twenty-five years, Priti and her husband have worked to save the thousands of teenage girls who are brought to the red-light district under duress, often tricked by acquaintances or even family members. The girls are held for years, working as unpaid prostitutes to make money for owners who buy and sell them. The Patkars head up Prerana — “Inspiration” — a CRS partner that helps girls who are rescued.

April 9th, 2010
A 103-year-old woman, a therapy dog and a friendship

My dog Jessie is a therapy dog — meaning she is trained to bring comfort and companionship to those who need it. We visit a lot of nursing homes and hospitals in our mountainous part of western North Carolina, and also, sometimes, homebound individuals. At one point I was bringing Jessie once a week to the home of a woman known as Granny.
Granny was 103 years old when we met her. Despite that, she got around well with a walker. She was always groomed, dressed, and seated at the table eating something — often ice cream — or sitting in front of the TV watching cooking shows. She was pretty bright. She seemed to digest both food and information well.
I’ve learned a lot about life and living from all the…

April 6th, 2010
Accompanying undocumented immigrants who are in prison

On a recent Saturday morning a minivan weaves through the warehouse district of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a port city an hour south of New York. It pulls to a stop beside a nondescript building where the Corrections Corporation of America — a private company — holds hundreds of immigrants in prison conditions. The firm is one of seven nationwide that contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to house immigrants awaiting deportation or applying for asylum. ICE also operates eight facilities itself and contracts with 300 county and state jails to hold immigrants. For the tens of thousands of detainees nationwide, time in immigrant detention is lonely and frightening.…

March 30th, 2010
A Lenten Lament

I’ve never been to an AA meeting, but feel like the mantra is appropriate here in admitting to the world, “My name is Carolyn and I am a recovering Oprah-holic.” Though I was able to put the brakes on my problem before it became an addiction, I was headed in that direction two years ago during Lent, when I sought solace in self-help and self-pity. I was one of thousands of people who joined Oprah’s Book Club featuring A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose… by Eckhart Tolle. I joined for a couple of reasons. One, I was experiencing a particularly brutal winter of Seasonal Affective Disorder while editing a book of Iraq War narratives and living in my hometown in the aftermath of my

March 24th, 2010
Travel along the Camino de Santiago with our Busted Halo pilgrims without leaving your home

Day #5: Journey’s End
The pilgrims complete their Camino and arrive at the 11th century St. James Cathedral, burial site of St. James the Apostle, to place their hands on the left foot of the statue depicting the Trinity, the traditional end-point of the Camino. Hear final thoughts and reflections from Fr. Larry, Erin, Stephen, Sam, Amy, and Mary…
Click here to listen further to the pilgrims’ final group discussion of the last day of the pilgrimage.

Day #4:
Reflections on “Waking”
A poem by Theodore Roethke
From Arzua, the pilgrims head to Arca. They will cross a number of bridges built by local farmers over the centuries to accommodate feeding their growing flocks of livestock.…

March 24th, 2010
There's "cool" and then there's real cool

One of the odd and unusual places I find the presence of God is in cool. Yes, cool.
I’m not talking about Don Draper charisma, exactly. And I’m not talking about rock star arrogance, either. I’m thinking of one day during my first semester of college, when I spotted an acquaintance, Marie N., walking across the school cafeteria, lunch tray in hand, looking around for a place to sit. I knew how it felt to scan the room in search of a familiar face. In fact, I planned my lunchtime so that I’d have a few friends to sit with.
But before I could catch Marie’s eye so that she might join my friends and me, she spotted an empty table and, with no visible sign of hesitation, sat down and started eating…

March 4th, 2010
Cardinal George reaches out to Mormons in a visit to BYU

Catholics and Mormons haven’t always clung to each other as partners in faith. In the early 20th century, for example, Mormon tradition held that “the great and abominable church” spoken of in The Book of Mormon… represented the Catholic Church. On the other hand, Catholic Church members have published tracts and now websites promoting the falsity of Mormonism since the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. Historically, neither organization has worked to bridge doctrinal differences. But the speech delivered at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, on Tuesday by His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., president of the United States Conference

February 26th, 2010
'What happened to the plan?"

In this episode, Benita talks about the story of Esther and God’s plan.
In episode one, Benita discusses her background and the difficulties she faced growing up.
In episode two, Benita describes how a routine traffic stop has turned her life upside down.…

February 18th, 2010
A look at Washington, D.C.'s 'Snowpocalypse' through the eyes of the homeless

Roland's encampment under the bridge

It’s a winter wonderland that nobody asked for and a biting cold that pierces layers of clothes. Cars line the streets submerged in snow. Stacks of the white stuff reach nearly 5 feet high in certain areas, towering over the recently plowed pavement. The nation’s capitol was pummeled last week by nearly 3 feet of snow in five days, the largest snowfall in the city’s history. Digging out will take time. But time is a luxury that people like George Jones can’t afford. He has worked literally nonstop to keep the doors to the Catholic Charities emergency shelters open. They have never closed on his watch. It’s times like these he’s needed most. But despite his best efforts, there are still those who remain outside, sleeping, surviving, in the frigid night air.

According to a 2009 census conducted by The Community Partnership to Prevent Homelessness, there are about 6,200 homeless individuals in Washington DC, almost 1,500 of them children. These people are in emergency shelters, long term shelters, transitional housing or on the street. With only 2,000 shelter beds available (including those at emergency shelters) and an additional 300 units for families, it seems no surprise many shelters have been operating at or above capacity for the duration of the snowstorm and its aftermath.

February 12th, 2010
"We had to start all over."

In this episode, Rishi discusses his family’s move back to Trinidad.
In episode one, Rishi talked about his family’s move to Canada from Trinidad.…

February 9th, 2010
O'Keefe arrest shows dangers of conservatives' love affair with Rules for Radicals

Conservatives have long criticized the lingering effects of the 1960s, and not without reason. The legacy of the “Love Generation” — or, as renamed by some disaffected ex-members, the “Destructive Generation” — is decidedly ambiguous. Not unlike Woodstock itself — “three days of peace and music” which turned Yasgur’s farm into a 600-acre latrine — the era’s idealistic youth, having rocked the world with some positive transformations (particularly in civil rights), left a cultural morass for future generations to clean up. Among the era’s gifts to posterity is the continued popularity of the in-your-face tactics…

January 29th, 2010
"This is so much more than just numbers."

Benita describes how a routine traffic stop has turned her life upside down.
In episode one, Benita discusses her background and the difficulties she faced growing up.…

January 27th, 2010
Reflections on a good deed gone awry

No good deed goes unpunished.
How many of us have used that phrase at one time or another? Sometimes it means that we secretly wanted more gratitude than we got in return for our trouble. Sometimes it’s a preemptive excuse for not going to the trouble in the first place. In general, it is a lousy phrase, and I hate it when I hear myself using it.
Nevertheless, I have learned that there are genuine risks to trying to help others, and it is best to stop and anticipate those risks before leaping into situations we may not fully understand. Otherwise, the results can be the very opposite of what we intended to achieve.
I think of Jack Henry Abbott, the self-educated career criminal whose book on life behind bars, In the …

powered by the Paulists