Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
July 29th, 2003
A Perspective on the Cost of Denying Women Ordination

Nearly six years to the day that I received my first theology degree, I was back in Boston at an ordination (see box below).
I was at the Episcopal cathedral, not the Catholic one. Jen, a former roommate, asked me and two other women friends from divinity school—a Jew-nitarian (and Wicca-friendly) minister and an Episco-Lutheran postulant to participate in her “deaconing” (being ordained a deacon) as presenters.

Ordination
In Christian churches ordination is the ritual by which the Holy Spirit is called down upon leaders of the community. In the Catholic, Orthodox, and certain other Christian traditions ordination is reserved for men only, while in most Protestant denominations it is open…

July 29th, 2003
Christian Faith Comes Alive on Pilgrimage in El Salvador

Summertime…and the living is on the go. This summer I headed south to El Salvador in Central America.
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful land country, but with a turbulent history that includes many modern-day Christian martyrs. The capital city, San Salvador, is a major Latin American pilgrimage stop.
San Salvador is not exactly Cancún—it’s not a fun vacation. But it is a deeply moving one—you get to know about some of the most courageous and extraordinary Catholics and people of faith of the last 30 years.
A few must see sites:Monseñor Oscar Romero’s house, next to Hospitalito Divina Providencia: Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador surprised the minority wealthy and the majority…

July 26th, 2003
Letting Summer, Fall, and Company Do Their Thing

A couple weeks ago, with Labor Day behind me and school back in session, I gave in to the temptation of calling it quits for the summer, and mentally fast forwarded to the bleakness that is fall.
Falling from summerEven the name itself is a downer. Fall. Leaves leaving trees. Rakish, spindly gardening tools itching to come out of their tool shed hibernation. I knew fall was just the appetizer. The main course was a little thing we like to call winter, and it was coming right up.
Reluctantly I covered my patio furniture, dragged it to the side of the house, and let go of my summer mind.
But then I decided this was way wrong. Even though it was already mid-September, summer’s warm weather remained, and it wasn’t…

July 1st, 2003
Poster Boy for Appalling Prelates and…Man of Faith

“My deepest vocation,” spiritual writer Henri Nouwen said, “is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.” Here’s one:
I attended Mass recently at the Cathedral in San Francisco where I live, and even though the space is lovely and the experience of worship good, since I had been in an ebb time, spiritually speaking, I didn’t expect to run smack into the Holy Spirit.
A priest who believed“The body of Christ,” he said, offering me the host. Truly the priest before me believed it was. I could see the faith, the hope, the expectation in the eyes which met mine.
I always like a priest who will meet your eyes when saying to you, “The body of…

July 1st, 2003
The Magdalene Sisters and Catholic Guilt

Guilt and shame are two Irish-Catholic traits that are as typical as corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day to Irish-Americans. It’s one thing to be Catholic, but to be an Irish-Catholic is a whole new ball of shameful wax.
When I was a child, the God I was taught to believe in was a judging God, and I think I spent more time trying to stay out of hell than I did practicing baseball.
The theme of Irish-Catholic guilt is placed at the center of the film, The Magdalene Sisters , where guilt chastises and shame paralyzes.
The Magdalene Laundries are a chapter of Catholicism that has been relatively unheard of outside of the Emerald Isle. Even in Ireland, the insular world of the laundries has been relatively…

June 1st, 2003
A Cardinal Complains, a Board Chair Resigns - What Does It All Mean?

JUNE 18, New York – This week the head of the U.S. Catholic Church’s National Review Board, former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, resigned suddenly from his post. The National Review Board is charged with monitoring the Church’s reforms in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
Governor vs. cardinal
The drama that led to this conclusion occurred in full public view last week. Though pretty complicated (even to church insiders), it seems to have unfolded pretty much like this:

In May, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles had led the California bishops in resolving not to fill out a research survey on clergy sexual abuse, alarmed by the specter of lawsuits and media leaks.
In a June 12 L.A.

June 1st, 2003
A Little Bible Study Didn't Hurt

For years I’ve recited the same prayer, every morning as I drive to work and every evening before I go to bed: Lord, help me feel your presence and be nicer to people. But my morning prayer is usually interrupted by some nimrod doing 80 in the slow lane who has just cut me off. And more often than not, my evening prayer is preempted by pondering that age-old question: what will I have for breakfast, a smoothie or soy latte?
But hey, God knows what’s in my heart. It’s not like I’m asking to win the lottery or anything (although if you’re listening, Big Fella, that would be nice too). So surely He’d be willing to grant a prayer so selfless.
He hasn’t. And every time I’ve cursed…

May 14th, 2003
Leaving, Learning, Coming Back for More

I know that my mother suffered terribly from postpartum depression after giving birth to my brother Franz and me, yet she and my father weren’t finished. One day, Franz and I were being good and looking incredibly adorable, and it coerced my parents into having Jimmy.
‘You’re adorable’ momentsRight now, I’m on a silent retreat and honestly, I’m exhausted from the experience of living in a community.
However, I’m also having one of those “you’re adorable” moments. We yell at each other, we lean on each other, we’re sick, we’re up, we hate work, we’re down, our family situations aren’t what we want them to be, we’re…

May 12th, 2003

Before I came to live in Arica, Chile, spending a week in silence sounded ridiculous. I love constant motion; I enjoy bumping into people and I gather strength from personal interaction. The idea of voluntarily submerging myself into my thoughts for six days, allowing for a minimum of human contact, appeared to be a terrible one.
But after I completed a second retreat during Holy Week as a required component of my JVI placement, I have never been more comfortable alone. I firmly believe that silence gives someone exactly what he needs, and particularly during the retreat I gained two major guiding principles: acceptance and awareness.
Doubt and acceptancePerhaps the most significant challenge of voluntarily…

May 3rd, 2003
Saved provides a smart critique of the evangelical teen subculture

I went to Saved , a new comedy about teenagers in a Christian high school expecting to get a few laughs at the expense of bible-based yokels. What I got instead was an entertaining, intelligent and surprisingly subtle teen comedy that pokes fun at the simplistic thinking and hypocrisy of white-suburban-conservative-evangelical culture.
Jena Malone plays Mary, a devout teen who accepted Jesus as her personal savior at the ripe old age of three. She attends the American Eagle Christian Academy a cliquish school where a towering billboard-esque icon of Jesus greets the students outside of the schoolhouse. Inside the classroom a picture of George W. Bush looms in the background while a buffoonish evangelical…

May 1st, 2003

Several years ago, after I made a pretty self-righteous remark at a church meeting, I was reproached as having “no right to be so flip for someone so young” (I was 24 at the time, in my first year of seminary). Feeling bruised in the ego, I counterattacked, accusing the person of discriminating… against me because I was young. Oh brother.
Things have a way of coming back to haunt you.
I was in Toronto (last summer, pre-SARS) when the Pope came to visit . At an assembly of about 150 college and high school students, a bishop from California was speaking from a prepared text about reconciliation, what it means to turn back to God. He then gave the students a chance to talk to one another in groups and then to report

May 1st, 2003
A Student Activist's Take on Incarceration from the Inside

As my second week in prison comes to a close, it becomes increasingly clear that the prison system serves little purpose than that of a multi-billion dollar industry.
The economics of incarcerationEach federal prison receives $20,000 and up per year per inmate for room and board. This money is supposedly used for the upkeep of an eight feet by nine feet cubicle housing two people, and to purchase our food (despite most of the food being expired, unsellable goods donated by supermarkets for tax write-offs).
In comparison, it costs less than $15,000 per year to live and eat at most private colleges, institutions hardly known for skimping.
The prisons also receive funds for inmates enrolled in GED classes, drug programs,…

May 1st, 2003
The Consequences; Surviving Cancer at 30

With my tongue outstretched and her hand on my pulse, the acupuncturist fired questions and conclusions at me:
“You worry too much. You think too much. Are you angry?”
I groaned to myself; she knows way too much for someone I’d just met.
“Uh…”
“Are you angry?”
“No.” I lied.
The heart of the matterShe picked up on the thing I avoid the most and, thus, the thing that causes me the most pain. I’m 30 years old and in the last 15 of them have battled three different types of cancer a total of five different times. I have every right to be angry but I’m usually better at hiding it.
I’m angry about the fallout of illness. The lasting physical…

April 27th, 2003
Some Women Need Not Apply

While my elementary school teachers told me to believe in myself, my parents warned me it was not good to be full of myself. Love thyself and trust thyself, yes, but not too much.
Be confident, yes, but not obnoxious, said mentors. Pride, or “excessive belief in one’s own abilities,” taken to an extreme, leaves no room within the human persona for the priceless virtue of humility.
The wrong pitfall?
Warnings against pride are well and good, but a qualification must be added. When discussing the pitfalls of pride and the honor in humility, it is necessary to nuance the discussion with special attention to gender. The ancient sin of pride was defined during a time in history when women’s experience…

April 19th, 2003
Thirtysomething, Divorced, and Catholic

Down for the count
During his homily on World Marriage Day, the priest asked everyone who had been married less than a year to stand up. He then asked everyone married one to five years to also stand. Then five to 10 and so on, until he got to 50 plus married years. He looked around and paused. Slowly he said, “Now everyone who is married should be standing up, right?”
I knew why he was asking the question. I too was surprised. About half of the adults in the pews were still sitting. I was also sitting although technically still married. But in a few months my divorce would be final. And so I sat. I didn’t know I had so much company.
Looking around I thought, well some of these folks might be single, some widows…

April 14th, 2003
Wisdom from Jesus and the Corn Guy

No one’s in the kitchen with Martha
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things,” said Jesus (Luke 10:38-42) after a productive Martha rebuked her lazy sister Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him speak instead of helping her. An indignant Martha stormed back to the kitchen and continued making a snack for her company. Jesus was on a house visit and the very least she could do was to feed him.
This scolding may sound more like something out of the Brady Bunch than the Bible, but lately I’ve found a lot of wisdom in it.
Like a lot of people, I identify with Martha’s compulsion to be productive. Within our culture, we value the “Martha time”…

April 12th, 2003
Being a Christian When People Are Better Off in Prison

Federal Prison Camp, Maxwell Air Force Base—I was speaking to one of my friends today as we sat by the river inside the Camp. We were talking about life in prison as opposed to life on the outside.
He said “I like it here. My life is better here. On the outside, I was living in substandard housing, had almost no food to eat, and no friends. Here, I have three meals a day, friends. And my housing is decent. I’m better off here.”
When he said this I nearly fell out of my seat. How could a person be better off in prison?
What does freedom matter?
I pondered this. I realized that here in prison we may lose our freedom, but does freedom really matter you are not free from hunger, homelessness, and disease? If you…

April 12th, 2003
Confessions of a Possibly Dangerous Mind

Mirror, mirror on the wall…
I was looking in the mirror recently (I’m trying to lose weight and this is a good way to ruin my appetite…), and I realized that it’s actually healthy to look at myself as I really am.
I know that sounds pretty simplistic, and I’m nothing if I’m not a simple person, but I mean I really take time to look at who I am. Not looking in the mirror to check my hair, or to see if my sideburns are even, or to see if my butt looks big in these jeans (all right, I’ll admit I’ve never looked for that). But I look in the mirror to see who I really am…versus the person that I just want other people to see.
And this is basically the first step I make to start seeing how God really…

April 12th, 2003
Scripture Reflections for Sundays in Lent

Readings:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33
I live in an ugly building. It’s a brown and teal low-rise that winds around a parking lot like a drunken staircase flipped on its side. Not surprisingly, the building was constructed in the 1960s when, apparently, creative architecture called for convoluted hallways and unmarked doors at every corner. My building is a labyrinth. Pizza delivery is a nightmare.
Fortunately, in the 1960s, someone also had the genius idea of designing each individual apartment with a six-meter wall of windows. Most tenants take advantage of the light and house endless plants on their windowsills. At dawn, when it’s still early enough to peep through living…

April 10th, 2003
L.A. Faith Communities Celebrate Easter Their Way

I love the Easter rituals that help me connect with the emotion and significance of this holiest day of the year. So I felt particularly blessed to be present for two different sets of rites as Los Angeles faith communities celebrated Easter according to traditions old and new.
Bringing the river to the city
At St. Thomas the Apostle Church, a Latino parish near downtown Los Angeles, parishioners carrying white candles spilled out into the streets during the Easter Vigil Saturday night. They witnessed more than 30 youth and adults receive the sacrament of baptism and become initiated into the Catholic faith. They are called “the Elect” since it is Catholic belief that it is God who has chosen them to…

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