WBEZ | religion http://www.wbez.org/tags/religion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Passing through: Chicago's Union Station as Amish transit hub http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157991456&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: In producing this story, producer Katie Klocksin quotes several people of Amish background. In a deviation from most journalistic practice, Klocksin and editor Shawn Allee chose not to publish the sources&rsquo; names out of respect for the Amish culture&#39;s longstanding premium on humility, as well as possible social consequences for participants. The decision was made in consideration of comments on the issue made by Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish.</em></p><p>Paul Vaccarello of LaGrange, Illinois, sees Amish people when he passes through downtown Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station &mdash; the nexus of several Amtrak and Metra commuter rail lines.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve just always been curious about where they&rsquo;re going, why they&rsquo;re here, if they&rsquo;re actually coming to Chicago or if this is a stop on their way to somewhere else,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This led him to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is Chicago a large transportation hub for Amish travelers?</em></p><p>Reporting an answer provided Paul an opportunity to hear from people that Chicagoans and suburbanites don&rsquo;t ordinarily cross paths with. Members of the religious group seek to maintain a close-knit rural lifestyle and, though there are Amish settlements sprinkled throughout the Midwest, the nearest one lies 90 miles from downtown Chicago. As we approached an answer &mdash; by checking in with experts and Amish travelers themselves &mdash; we couldn&rsquo;t help but feel we were meeting our regional neighbors for the first time.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A separate pattern of life</span></p><p>Dr. Steven Nolt, Professor of History at Goshen College and author of numerous books on the Amish, reminded us that adherents belong to a Protestant religious community that is &ldquo;sometimes referred to as &lsquo;the old order Amish,&rsquo; which means they have tried to maintain what they consider the old patterns of life.&rdquo; Typically, they limit their use of modern technology and their communities tend to be in rural areas. These &ldquo;old patterns of life,&rdquo; Nolt said, &ldquo;would be things that encourage community and cooperation and collaboration.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt noted, though, that there are few technologies that the Amish consider wholly bad. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s their attempt to try to control technology or engage technology on their own terms,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p>Relevant to Paul&rsquo;s question, Amish people generally don&rsquo;t own or drive cars, although some will hire a vehicle and driver for transportation. It&rsquo;s common for the Amish to travel on trains or buses. &ldquo;The problem isn&rsquo;t the <em>thing</em>,&rdquo; Nolt said. &ldquo;The problem is when we own and control something, then, that heightens our sense of individual autonomy.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt described an aspect of Amish life that posed a problem for reporting this story: &ldquo;Amish people, when speaking to members of the media, almost always decline to be identified by name or photographed in ways that would highlight them as an individual. Their concern there is one of humility, of not appearing to present oneself as a spokesperson for the whole group, not wanting to call attention to themselves.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Traveling by train<a name="map"></a></span></p><p>Paul and I made several trips to Union Station and found Amish people each time. Most were happy to talk with us, provided my large microphone was turned off. Most people, as predicted, declined to give their names. Everyone we talked to confirmed our theory: Chicago <em>is</em> a hub for transportation among the Amish. The people we interviewed at Union Station were all waiting to switch trains. One woman put it succinctly: &ldquo;A lot of Amish travel from one state to the other on Amtrak. &hellip;Every train comes into Chicago and leaves Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Our map can clarify this: There, you can see how Amtrak lines cross near or through midwestern Amish communities. Nolt added, too, that more than 60 percent of the Amish live in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania: states with Amtrak lines. So Paul was onto something: Amish people, by avoiding cars, travel by train throughout the Midwest and the country. Many Amtrak trains converge in Chicago, thus Amish regularly wait for trains and transfers at Union Station.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/amish/index.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em><strong>Map: U.S. counties with extant Amish settlements as of 2010, overlaid with unofficial map of Amtrak rail system lines.</strong> Amish population data: <a href="http://www.rcms2010.org/index.php" target="_blank">Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies</a>.&nbsp;Rough Amtrak line map: <a href="https://www.blogger.com/profile/17241478144408980328" target="_blank">Rakshith Krishnappa</a>.</em></span></p><p>Nolt points out that Amish people aren&rsquo;t likely to use the word &ldquo;vacation.&rdquo; Instead, he says, they talk about trips. &ldquo;I think on one level it&rsquo;s because &lsquo;vacation&rsquo; suggests leisure type activity that doesn&rsquo;t fit with their rural way of life,&rdquo; he said, adding, &ldquo;Their worlds are not as neatly divided as many of the rest of ours are between work and leisure, home and work. There&rsquo;s much more fluidity and overlap between the domains of their life.&rdquo;</p><p>Nolt says it is common for a long-distance trip to be centered around business travel. There are all-Amish trade shows, for example, which are similar to standard trade shows except they are hosted by a local community and attendees stay with local families. &quot;Most people bring their whole family and it kind of turns into a reunion of visiting,&quot; he said.</p><p>For the most part, though, Paul and I met people traveling to visit family members in other states. We met a large family returning home to Kansas from a wedding in Indiana. An Amish woman from Ohio was traveling with several of her grandchildren to visit her cousin and see the Grand Canyon.</p><p>A few Amish people we met were seeking medical care, including a man from Kentucky. &ldquo;We were in Mexico for medical purposes,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to see it, but medical expenses in the States anymore are so phenomenal that an ordinary person cannot afford it.&rdquo; He was returning from Tijuana after a successful operation.</p><p>Another medical traveler, an Amish man with a salt-and-pepper beard and a constant grin, cracked jokes with us for a while. After we parted ways with him, though, we ran into him throughout our stay at Union Station. It&rsquo;s not an exaggeration to say he seemed to know every Amish person there that day, which perhaps reveals a benefit of Union Station&rsquo;s being a hub: For the Amish, it provides a space to serendipitously meet far-flung neighbors.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Paul%20Vaccarello%20-%20courtesy%20of%20Paul%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 254px; width: 190px;" title="Paul Vaccarello asked Curious City about the Amish at Union Station. (Photo courtesy Paul Vaccarello)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Our question comes from: Paul Vaccarello</span></p><p>Paul Vaccarello told Curious City he visits Union Station about twice a month, adding that &ldquo;pretty much every time, I see groups of Amish people.&rdquo; While he was curious about whether the Amish travel by train, he also wondered if Chicago was ever the destination for Amish people on the road. &ldquo;It was interesting to hear they sometimes stop in Chicago to sightsee, go to the Sears Tower and John Hancock building,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Paul said he&rsquo;s not someone who would normally talk to strangers in the train station, and striking up a conversation with someone from a clearly different background can feel like crossing a barrier.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s cool to see they&rsquo;re so willing to talk, and that they don&rsquo;t even really see the barrier,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is a freelance radio producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453 Morning Shift: Evangelicals and immigration http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-04/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration-110275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Church Flickr wallyg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk about the potential impact of new oversight rules for Illinois&#39; charter schools. Also we discuss evangelicals and the push for immigration reform. And, we listen to more reclaimed soul.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Evangelicals and immigration " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-06-04/morning-shift-evangelicals-and-immigration-110275 Morning Shift: The cloistered life http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr S John Davey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a preview of a Chicago City Council vote on the oil refining byproduct known as petcoke. Also, the life of a cloistered nun. Plus, the Americana sounds of Chicago&#39;s Will Phalen.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The cloistered life" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 Muslims and Jews sing, talk and protest their way to interfaith cooperation http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 <p><p>A program inside a theater on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side feels a little like a talent show, or maybe a family reunion. Performers step up from the audience to recite original poetry, do interpretative dance or sing.</p><p>The sound quality&rsquo;s spotty. The pacing&rsquo;s a little off. But this isn&rsquo;t about slick production values or seamless performances. The goal here is far more ambitious: to bridge the divide between Jews and Muslims in Chicago.</p><p>The show is called &ldquo;Café Finjan,&rdquo; after the Hebrew and Arabic words for a metal coffee pot. It showcases Muslim and Jewish poets, musicians, painters and more. It&rsquo;s one of several interfaith events that share the goal of getting Jews and Muslims to move past historical tensions and distrust so they can work together and help solve some of the city&rsquo;s urban problems.</p><p>But they&rsquo;re finding it&rsquo;s not always easy.</p><p>&ldquo;The paradigm that we&rsquo;re trying to create is that we have an interest in what kind of society we have here, even though we also have strong concerns and interests about what happens to our brothers and sisters, to our cousins and to our friends in other places in the world,&rdquo; said Asaf Bar-Tura, formerly of the <a href="http://www.jcua.org/">Jewish Council of Urban Affairs</a>. He spent five months with an interfaith team planning the café.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="Gerald Hankerson, the outreach coordinator for CAIR-Chicago [left], chats with JCUA board member Kalman Resnick [right], and several others." />He acknowledged those political differences over Palestine and Israel remain painful and deep.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a tension there,&rdquo; Bar-Tura said. &ldquo;But we can&rsquo;t overcome these tensions, we can&rsquo;t discuss the issues, without getting to know each other first. You don&rsquo;t dive into &lsquo;Oh, tell me what your ideology is.&rsquo; You first (say), &lsquo;Tell me about your family, tell me about what you do, what does your day look like, what do you want for your kids?&rsquo; And then we can get into these deeper discussions.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://jmcbi.org">JCUA started working closely with Muslim groups</a> more than a decade ago, after noticing rising Islamophobia following the Sept. 11 attacks. Their most popular event is &ldquo;Iftar in the Synagogue,&rdquo; where Jews and Muslims share a meal to break the fast during Ramadan. In just four years, attendance jumped from 90 people to more than 500.</p><p>&ldquo;We started this program to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters to say, &lsquo;We feel your pain, and we are going to help you fight against discrimination,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Judy Levey, JCUA&rsquo;s executive director. &ldquo;Because that&rsquo;s what we do. That&rsquo;s who we are.&rdquo;</p><p>The events are about more than poetry and hummus. The JCUA, the <a href="http://www.juf.org/cbr/">Chicago Board of Rabbis</a> and the <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/">Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago</a> sponsor periodic rabbi-imam dialogues. They&rsquo;ve discussed things like the role of Shariah law in a democracy and their shared dietary traditions.</p><p>Jewish and Muslim activists have lobbied to demand immigration reform, to stop foreclosures and to protest anti-Muslim bus ads. After a baby was fatally shot in Chicago last spring, they went together to her funeral. There&rsquo;s even been &nbsp;<a href="http://jcuanews.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/jewish-and-muslim-cyclists-will-ride-together-narrowing-the-distance-between-faiths/">Jewish-Muslim bike rides</a>.</p><p>Activists on both sides hope these events will lessen suspicion and lead to partnerships in the city they share and call home.</p><p>But some say the results are mixed.</p><p>&ldquo;Qualitatively, in some ways, I would say maybe they are better,&rdquo; said Aaron Cohen, the spokesman for the <a href="http://www.juf.org/">Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicag</a>o. &ldquo;Quantitatively, in terms of seeing vast numbers of people engaging, I wouldn&rsquo;t say that needle has moved much either way.&rdquo;</p><p>Cohen&rsquo;s a hopeful guy, and well-liked by Jewish and Muslim activists. He&rsquo;s been part of Jewish/Muslim dialogues, and he took an interfaith trip to Turkey.</p><p>But he says there are stumbling blocks to interfaith cooperation. Unlike the JCUA, the Federation won&rsquo;t formally work with the <a href="http://www.cairchicago.org/">Chicago office of the Council of American Islamic Relations</a>, a civil rights agency well regarded by the Muslim community. Cohen said that&rsquo;s because many were offended by anti-Semitic signs spotted at a CAIR rally a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s crossing a very big red line,&rdquo; Cohen said, adding that statements demonizing Jews or Israel can&rsquo;t be tolerated. &ldquo;History delivers on our doors an awful lot of baggage, and we really need to make conscious choices about how much of that baggage we&rsquo;re going to schlep with us into the future.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iftar%203.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="The annual Iftar in the Synagogue event drew more than 500 people this year." />&ldquo;Obviously, we can&rsquo;t control every single individual in a massive rally,&rdquo; said Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of Chicago&rsquo;s CAIR chapter. &ldquo;However, the facts are that when we saw the sign, we removed it as organizers, because it does not mesh with our values.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We stand against anti-Semitism,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rehab said he believes his strong critique of Israeli policy, not the signs, is the real issue &ndash; which federation leaders deny.</p><p>Rehab said he thinks some federation leaders are out of touch with younger Jews:</p><p>&ldquo;Especially the new generation, it&rsquo;s not intuitive for these young men and women to look at each other through a fence, or see each other as enemies or rivals,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because they do have a shared common culture; they share the same appreciation for music, for movies. They were born and brought up here.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the challenges, Rehab is hopeful. He believes more Jewish and Muslim youth want to work together, and that cooperation is the wave of the future.</p><p>That seemed to be the case back at Café Finjan. Muslim girls wearing headscarves nodded along with a klezmer band. Gray-haired Jewish activists applauded warmly for a student who recited a poem about being a Pokemon master and a Muslim</p><p>One of the attendees, software developer Najim Yaqubie, is Muslim. He said he and his best friend &ndash; who&rsquo;s Jewish -- care more about their friendship than politics.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re both human, we&rsquo;re both American, we&rsquo;re both young and we&rsquo;re just trying to have some fun,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter who or where you&rsquo;re from.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 17:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/muslims-and-jews-sing-talk-and-protest-their-way-interfaith-cooperation-109452 Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr 1yen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Religious leaders from around the city join us to discuss the state of interfaith relations in Chicago. We take a look at tech trends past and present. And, Chicago Mag&#39;s Dennis Rodkin checks in with the latest in housing issues.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 08:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach Sisters struggle to reconcile feminist beliefs with Mormon faith http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/sisters-struggle-reconcile-feminist-beliefs-mormon-faith-109355 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7417_chi000411_g1-scr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago sisters Shannon and Didi Mehner describe themselves as Mormon feminists.</p><p>In Mormonism, women cannot hold the priesthood or assume certain leadership roles in the church. The Chicago sisters are troubled by this, and say they&rsquo;re fighting to change it ... within their church.</p><p>They visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the challenges of reconciling feminism and faith.</p><p><strong>Shannon</strong>: I think I always knew I was feminist. I always kept my feminism kind of separate from my identity as a member of the Mormon church. And so I think when I got married is when it all came crashing together. I obviously love Nick, and I&rsquo;m really glad I got married, but a lot of your identity starts to feel like it sinks into your husband&rsquo;s identity.</p><p>Shannon decided to keep her maiden name, rather than to take her husband&#39;s.</p><p><strong>Didi</strong>: Shannon and I grew up with a dad who kind of always told us we could do whatever we wanted.</p><p><strong>Shannon</strong>: He is also extremely conservative, so when he gets mad about us being feminists, I always tell him that he created us, and made us this way.</p><p><em>To hear how Shannon plans to raise a &ldquo;raging feminist boy,&rdquo; and how she won a victory that both sisters say is a big deal in the Mormon church, click on the audio above.</em></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/sisters-struggle-reconcile-feminist-beliefs-mormon-faith-109355 Cardinal George speaks in support of coalition for free water for nonprofits http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cardinal-george-speaks-support-coalition-free-water-nonprofits-106913 <p><p>Cardinal Francis George has joined a large interfaith coalition pushing for free or discounted water for religious institutions.</p><p>The coalition, working together since Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the exemption that gave churches free water in December 2011, is now responding to the mayor&rsquo;s proposal that would charge nonprofits for water based on their assets. Nonprofits with net assets under $1 million would be exempt from paying for water, while those with more than $250 million in assets would pay the full charge. Those in between would pay a discounted rate.</p><p>Cardinal Francis George voiced opposition to the plan, though he was careful in how he addressed his challenge to the mayor:</p><p>&ldquo;As we go forward and people are saying that there has to be some kind of mutual accommodation, I would just like to say that they should look at the budgets and the operating deficits and the savings, much more so than assets,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp; &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t want a city that only has government institutions, then you have to see to the solvency of religious institutions and other non-profits.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal said he and other religious leaders want to find a middle ground with city officials.</p><p>Aldermen that support the coalition proposed a change to restore the water exemption last December, but that&rsquo;s been stuck in committee.</p><p>In a statement, Tom Alexander, the mayor&rsquo;s deputy communications director, called the asset-based compromise &ldquo;a fair, reasonable proposal that will allow all non-profit institutions the chance to continue providing their vital community services, while paying their fair share, just as residents do.&rdquo;</p><p>Alexander said the measure is the mayor&rsquo;s &ldquo;final proposal&rdquo; after holding meetings with faith leaders, aldermen and community groups. He said they hope to bring the proposal up at the next City Council meeting.</p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cardinal-george-speaks-support-coalition-free-water-nonprofits-106913 'Media nuns' assist Catholics in staying connected in a digital age http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/media-nuns-assist-catholics-staying-connected-digital-age-106328 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;"><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/star%20wars_1.jpg" style="height: 229px; width: 305px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: left;" title="Sister Helena comes face-to-face with Darth Vader on Hollywood Blvd. Sister Helena writes movie reviews for Catholic New World. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" />The sanctuary inside St. Mary Catholic Church in the village of Huntley echoed with the voices of more than 200 high school freshmen. They fidgeted as they waited for confirmation class to begin.</div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A poster for the movie <em>Warm Bodies</em> appeared on a large screen behind Sister Helena Burns. She asked the students if any of them have seen it, and some raise their hands.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;What happens when the two fall in love?&quot; she asked. &quot;The zombie guy and the human girl, what happens?&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And yes, she was talking about a zombie movie.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;He starts to come back to life, right? His little heart starts beating. What else happens? Does it just stay between the two of them? It&rsquo;s just their love, and it&rsquo;s all closed off and private?&quot; Sister Helena asked.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Hands began to pop up around the room, and one student shouted out the answer Sister Helena wanted.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Yes, the love spreads,&quot; Sister Helena said to the students. &quot;Two thumbs up! Wasn&rsquo;t it great?&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The self-dubbed &#39;media nun&#39; is teaching a class about theology of the body, the idea that the human body is a revelation of God.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Using popular movies as a way to communicate to teens is just one example of Sister Helena&#39;s media savvy. She also tweets, blogs, <a href="http://www.hellburns.blogspot.com/2013/03/brand-new-my-video-review-of-warm-bodies.html#.UVOBRjevlI4">writes movie reviews</a><em> </em>and is making a documentary film about her order&#39;s founder with Spirit Juice Studios.<br /><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>To get a sense of Sister Helena&#39;s social media presence, check out this sampling from Storify:&nbsp; </em><a href="http://sfy.co/gH2R">Sister Helena Burns, &#39;Media Nun&#39;</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">She&rsquo;s part of an international order of nuns called the Daughters of St. Paul. They claim they&rsquo;re the only order in the world whose sole mission is using media to &ldquo;communicate the gospel in a digital age.&rdquo; And at a time when studies show more and more people are feeling disconnected from institutional churches, the sisters may have found an unusual way to reach out.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The order was founded by Father James Alberione in 1915. He had a vision media would explode in the 20th century, and he should spread the gospel to as many people as possible using whatever technologies were available.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Back in those days, that was mostly newspapers and passing out pamphlets door-to-door. In 1932, the order opened the Pauline bookstores, which have locations across the country, including Chicago.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/choir_0.jpg" style="height: 211px; width: 310px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;" title="The Daughters of St. Paul Choir singing at a Christmas concert in Boston. The order has its own state of the art sound studio for recording and producing albums. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Over the years, the stores have adopted new forms of media and technology as they&#39;ve come along.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today, they&#39;re known as Pauline Books and Media.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">They&#39;ve expanded their technologies to include ebooks, smartphone apps and software, among others. Music from the Daughters of St. Paul choir can be found on YouTube and in iTunes.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Chicago order of the Daughters of St. Paul is located over its Pauline Books and Media store on North Michigan Avenue in the Loop.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dressed in her navy blue veil and smock, Sister Helena greeted me warmly when I dropped by the store. It was early, so there weren&#39;t any customers browsing the religious books or trying to track down communion gifts yet. Sister Helena led me to the back of the store, where we took an elevator upstairs to the convent. The furnishings in the florescent-lit kitchen were spartan but comfortable.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sister Helena entered the Daughters of St. Paul at 17, after finding an ad in <em>Catholic Digest.</em> The order&#39;s mission of spreading the gospel through media spoke to her immediately.</div><p>&ldquo;I felt, what better way could you bring God into somebody&rsquo;s heart and soul and mind, just directly through a book, a song, a magazine, a film,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MEDIA LITERACY WORKSHOP 2.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: left;" title="Sister Helena giving a talk on media literacy. The Daughters of St. Paul do various forms of outreach to teach others about using media responsibly. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><p>Sister Helena didn&rsquo;t always know she was going to be a nun. Growing up, she dreamt of working with animals, especially birds. But she also loved reading and writing short stories</p><p>&ldquo;I could see the influence for the good and the ill that media had on me, on my friends, and on society,&quot; she said. &quot;I thought, &lsquo;Wow, I would love to just get in there and affirm the good, and try to help people also reflect on their everyday media experiences.&#39;&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The Daughters of St. Paul don&rsquo;t just evangelize, they teach people to use media responsibly without allowing it to take over their lives. In addition to speaking to large groups like the confirmation class at St. Mary&#39;s, they also offer private sessions with families and individuals, or anyone who needs help balancing the media and technology.</div><p>Sister Helena told me about a woman whose granddaughter used to come over every day after school.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;&#39;Because,&#39; she said,&nbsp; &#39;Grandma, you look at me. I go to my house, my little brother&rsquo;s playing with his games, my mother&rsquo;s talking on her phone, my dad&rsquo;s at the computer.&#39; She said, &lsquo;I come into your house, Grandma, and you&rsquo;re at the computer, you shut it off.&#39;&rdquo;</div><p>In addition to working with teens and families, the order also uses media as a tool to recruit new sisters. A 2012 study from Georgetown University shows the number of nuns in the United States has dropped by two-thirds since the 1960s.</p><p>The Daughters of St. Paul hope to reverse that trend by reaching out to young women in their own language, social media.</p><p>That appealed to 30-year-old Danielle Lussier, who&rsquo;s entering the order this September. Like Sister Helena, Danielle never pictured herself as a nun.</p><p>&ldquo;They were other worldly, they were outside of my own worldview, totally, like, out of touch maybe? But also mysterious,&quot; she said.</p><p>Danielle studied photography and film in college, but she began to wonder if she was using her talents for the highest possible purpose. While on a religious retreat, she found her purpose in the Daughters of St. Paul.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/italy_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 305px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px;" title="Sister Helena filming a scene on location in Italy. She's working with Spirit Juice Studios of Chicago on a film about Father James Alberione, who founded the Daughters of St. Paul. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><p>&ldquo;This is a means of reaching people where they are,&quot; Danielle said. &quot;This is the language of our culture.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at St. Mary Catholic Church, the nuns seem to be getting through. Fifteen-year-old Bailey said she&#39;s heard some &quot;boring&quot; speakers in confirmation class, but hearing a nun speak about a zombie movie caught her attention.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s not just [living] this strict life, she can get out there and teach kids [in the way] we learn,&quot; Bailey said. &quot;It&rsquo;s kind of more our generation,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Now, Bailey said, she expects to pay more attention to Catholic issues when they pop up on Facebook.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/media-nuns-assist-catholics-staying-connected-digital-age-106328 The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/color-christ-son-god-and-saga-race-america-105640 <p><p>How is it that in America the image of Jesus Christ has been used both to justify the atrocities of white supremacy and to inspire the righteousness of civil rights crusades? In <em>The Color of Christ</em>, <strong>Edward J. Blum</strong> and <strong>Paul Harvey</strong> weave a tapestry of American dreams and visions&ndash;from witch hunts to web pages, Harlem to Hollywood, slave cabins to South Park, Mormon revelations to Indian reservations&ndash;to show how Americans remade Jesus visually time and again into a sacred symbol of their greatest aspirations, deepest terrors, and mightiest strivings for racial power and justice.</p><p><br /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80119043" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>The Color of Christ</em> uncovers how, in a country founded by Puritans who destroyed depictions of Jesus, Americans came to believe in the whiteness of Christ. Some envisioned a white Christ who would sanctify the exploitation of Native Americans and African Americans and bless imperial expansion. Many others gazed at a messiah, not necessarily white, who was willing and able to confront white supremacy. The color of Christ still symbolizes America&rsquo;s most combustible divisions, revealing the power and malleability of race and religion from colonial times to the presidency of Barack Obama.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TNL-webstory_1.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at The Newberry Library.</p></p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 15:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/color-christ-son-god-and-saga-race-america-105640 List: Reasons why I'd make a pretty good pope http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/list-reasons-why-id-make-pretty-good-pope-105457 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8448374_a261fbc944.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Flickr/bayat" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.8878438304891015">I&rsquo;d bring new fresh ideas to the Church like putting all the nuns in charge and re-instating the fun-to-say &ldquo;It is right to give Him thanks and praise&rdquo; and maybe swapping out the &ldquo;Peace be with you&rdquo; handshake for a more hygienic long-distance high-five. </span><br /><br />&nbsp;</div><p>I tweet a lot.<br /><br />There might be a slightly different attitude towards abuse of small children if a former altar server and parent of a small child were in charge.<br /><br />I like both bread and wine.<br /><br />Every day of Lent would be Fat Tuesday until Easter.<br /><br />When pop culture makes fun of Catholicism, instead of embarrassing us by getting all outraged I&rsquo;ll say something more along the lines of &ldquo;Okay, you got us, that was pretty good.&rdquo;<br /><br />I used to take Italian and Latin.<br /><br />The Church would be much more inclusive because then when parishes have church parties we could maybe rent out a club instead of having to use the old church rectory basement again.<br /><br />I look good in hats and dresses.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s time for another Polish pope.<br /><br />I got my flu shot so I&rsquo;m good to go.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 09:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/list-reasons-why-id-make-pretty-good-pope-105457