WBEZ | religion http://www.wbez.org/tags/religion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Real estate and religion: The tale of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 <p><div>These days Wacker Drive rivals LaSalle as the epicenter of Chicago&rsquo;s financial district. The drive&rsquo;s high-rise office buildings tower over the Chicago River like walls of a canyon. But a break in the skyline at the intersection of Wabash and Wacker makes way for a building that is only five stories above street level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The structure looks nothing like any of its rectilinear neighbors, which favor steel and glass. Instead, it resembles a concrete space ship with a round, white, windowless facade from the second story up. And, the building has nothing to do with financial power. As spelled out in enormous letters spanning its curved wall, it&rsquo;s the home of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cs church wide.jpg" title="Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits on a corner of prime real estate at the intersection of Wabash Ave. and Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Monica Schrager asked Curious City how the church has held on to the property for so long. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div><p>This distinctive structure caught the eye of Monica Schrager, who works right across the street on the 10th floor of the old Jeweler Building. &ldquo;It has an interesting look,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s this small &lsquo;60s-style building that you never really see anyone coming in and out of in the middle of all these skyscrapers.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s the question she asked us to look into:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><em>I&rsquo;m curious about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist that sits on the corner of Wabash and Wacker: how it came to have that prime real estate and how it&rsquo;s managed to hold on to that prime real estate for so long.</em></div></div><p>It turns out Monica has a nose for a great story. As we look into the church&rsquo;s history, we learn how the tenets of a distinctive faith were translated into concrete and steel by an idealistic, but non-believing architect. And, we follow a devoted congregation as it risked building in a once-abandoned portion of the city ... only to have that neighborhood bloom decades later.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Which faith are we talking about?</span></p><p>Not to be confused with Scientology, Christian Science is a branch of protestant Christianity. It was founded in Massachusetts in the late 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, who taught that the material world is a temporary illusion, while the only reality is spiritual. This belief informs all aspects of Christian Science practice, including its most famous: devout Christian Scientists don&rsquo;t seek medical treatment. Eddy taught a form of spiritual healing that is inspired by Jesus&rsquo; own healings in the New Testament.</p><p>Mrs. Eddy also taught that God does not communicate by way of a few chosen figures, like preachers or popes. God, she said, communicates directly and equally with all of his followers, so Christian Science is a non-hierarchical, democratic faith. Each church elects readers who serve a short term before passing responsibility to another church member. As the congregation&rsquo;s current First Reader, Lois Carlson, states: &nbsp;&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have many big cheeses.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Quakers, Christian Scientists also emphasize the importance of individual testimonies; during Wednesday services, church-goers are encouraged to stand and share their personal experiences with Christian Science healing. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;To uplift a neighborhood&rsquo;</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s notable that the intersection of Wabash and Wacker has any church at all, since there are few standalone churches around downtown. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed many of them, and many more relocated to quieter residential areas. In 1907, an unknown author penned an op-ed piece for the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune </em>which reads: &ldquo;One of the changes most noticeable between old Chicago and new Chicago is the disappearance of the churches which used to surround the courthouse square or line Wabash or Michigan avenue.&rdquo; Later, the author notes &ldquo;Chicago has nothing downtown to express the spiritual life of its people.&rdquo;</p><p>So, when the Seventeenth Church was established downtown in 1924, it was a bit of an anomaly.</p><p>For decades the congregation rented several downtown venues including, at one point, Orchestra Hall. By the late 1940s, though, the congregation wanted a church of its own. Members remained committed to being downtown. In this, they bucked a trend of building Christian Science churches in outer neighborhoods such as Beverly, Uptown and Hyde Park. Current members of the Seventeenth Church don&rsquo;t have records that indicate why the congregation prefered downtown, though member Dave Hohle has a hypothesis. &ldquo;I think a church will uplift a neighborhood,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>Today, it seems like the corner of Wabash and Wacker might be the perfect candidate. Not so, according to Hohle. &ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t really interest them because it wasn&rsquo;t very central,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was just sort of over here on the river.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Carlson points out that Wacker Drive was not always a major thoroughfare. &ldquo;It used to be that Michigan Avenue was its own entity and the Loop was its own entity, and there was no sense of connecting the two,&rdquo; she says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lot%202%20FOR%20WEB.png" title="" /></p><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/duo3.png" title="Site of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist before construction in the mid-1950s. (Photos courtesy Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist and Chuckman's Chicago Nostalgia) " /></div></div><p>Obviously the congregation <em>did </em>decide to buy that property, after almost a decade of searching. At the time, the corner contained nothing but a parking lot and a short, rundown building, which they later demolished to make way for their new church. When they finally made the purchase in 1955, Wacker Drive was just starting to develop.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Kindred spirits: A radical faith and a non-believing architect</span></p><p>Say Hohle is right and the Seventeenth Church congregation wished to uplift their future neighborhood. Surely, then, the church would need uplifting architecture. Over two years, the congregation considered 34 architects, including celebrity designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an architect with Christian Science roots. In 1963 they settled on a Harry Weese.</p><p>You may not know Weese by name, but there&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve seen his work in Chicago: the Time Life building, the towering Metropolitan Correctional Center on Van Buren street, and several others. His resume stretches as far as Washington, D.C., where he designed a cavernous metro, famous for its waffled concrete ceilings. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tai%20flickr%20dc%20metro%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="margin: 5px;" title="Harry Weese, the architect who designed Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist building, also designed the Washington, D.C. metro stations. (Flickr/tai)" /></div><p>Weese had an impressive resume, but then again, so did his competitors and, interestingly, he was not a religious man. (In interviews the church asked each candidate about their religious affiliation. Weese responded, &ldquo;My father was Episcopalian, my mother Presbyterian, and I&rsquo;m an architect.&rdquo;)</p><p>According to Robert Bruegmann, the co-author of <em>The Architecture of Harry Weese</em>, the congregation was impressed by the architect&rsquo;s ambitious, post-war vision for American cities.</p><p>&ldquo;The suburbs had sapped a lot of the vitality of the city,&rdquo; Bruegmann says. &ldquo;A lot of the city architecture and infrastructure was old. The city was in a pretty bad state and Chicago was no exception.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Weese wanted to build a new, more humane city, so he sought contracts for large-scale urban works such as the DC Metro. But Weese also believed architects could revitalize cities by designing new, monumental public buildings. &ldquo;So for Harry, a chance to build a church in the center of the city where the churches had been fleeing for a hundred years was a real opportunity, and he really seized it with both hands,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s simply conjecture (again, the congregation has no records of this), but we do know the Seventeenth Church congregation was impressed with the architect&rsquo;s plans, if not the architect himself. According to Dave Hohle, the church approved Weese&rsquo;s design on the first round, a rare occurrence in architecture circles. &ldquo;There were, like, no adjustments,&rdquo; Hohle says. &ldquo;It was presented and it was unanimously approved.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Faith translated into design</span></p><p>The congregation&rsquo;s first reader, Lois Carlson, says that Weese&rsquo;s radical building, completed in 1968, matches Christian Science&rsquo;s radical theology. &ldquo;I think what&#39;s so beautiful about this building is that it&rsquo;s so clearly an idea that matches the metaphysical substance of the Christian Science faith,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Specifically, Bruegmann says Weese knew that acoustics were critical to a democratic congregation that valued every voice. That led him to fashion the main auditorium of the church as a greek-style amphitheater, which is ideal for projecting sound. There are 800 seats, and each is within 54 feet of the room&rsquo;s center.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/inside%20church%20flickr%20dpyle%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist can hold up to 800 people, but a typical Sunday service is attended by about 40 people. (Flickr/dpyle)" /></div><p>Quite unusual for the time, Weese also worked with an audio engineer who created a system of hidden microphones and speakers so that members&rsquo; testimonies could be amplified. This audio system was so advanced it received a write-up in the Journal for the <a href="http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1500">Society of Audio Engineers</a> in 1970.</p><p>A year after the church opened, it received a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects. The AIA recognized the structure not just for its democratic design, but also for Weese&rsquo;s expert problem solving. To keep out the noises of a bustling city, the congregation did not want windows in the auditorium but, like most churches, they wanted space and light. So Weese built a tall, domed ceiling with an oculus-like skylight at the very top, which he called a lantern. To make sure the sunday school was equally well lit, Weese created a moat-like sunken garden around the church so that there could be windows into the basement levels. &nbsp;</p><p>Then of course, there is the building&rsquo;s eye-catching exterior. Bruegmann points out that the facade is modern but still achieves the kind of monumentality that Harry Weese admired in classical buildings. &ldquo;That dome that rounds that corner is one of the grandest urban gestures of virtually any city I know of,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">If you build it they (might) come</span></p><p>When the Seventeenth Church triumphantly opened its doors in 1968, the congregation established something few other churches had attempted: a place of worship in Chicago&rsquo;s bustling downtown. The trouble is, membership didn&rsquo;t grow, at least not on the national level. &nbsp;According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the Christian Science movement&rsquo;s membership started to drop in the 1940s and, by the 1960s, was in serious decline.</p><p>So what happened? Stark suggests that early in the 20th century, Christian Science was the fastest-growing faith in the country, but there&rsquo;s a caveat. He believes Christian Science always <em>seemed </em>more successful than it actually was, mostly because members tended to be well off financially. &nbsp;Like the Seventeenth Church, other congregations had resources to establish and build new churches around the country, even after membership began to decline.</p><p>Another theory from Stark: Medical treatment was very crude at the time that Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. &ldquo;We had no antibiotics,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Part of the time they really didn&rsquo;t have any anesthetics. Doctors were pretty untrained and a lot of them were butchers.&rdquo; &nbsp;By comparison, spiritual healing seemed like a strong alternative. Stark argues that interest in Christian Science decreased in the mid-1900s after Western medicine improved.</p><p>Lastly, Stark argues that the first generation of Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t produce a second generation. From the beginning, Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t have a lot of children so they had to rely on new converts to expand. Converting new members is often difficult compared to raising children within a faith.</p><p>We can see how this affected the Chicago area by reading <em>The Christian Science Journal</em>, which lists every Christian Science church around the world. The religion was popular in Chicago; over the span of 61 years Christian Scientists opened 23 churches across the city. After the 1950s, Chicago churches began to close. By the new millenium, 13 of the original 23 churches were gone. Today there are only six.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10th%20Church%201%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The former site of Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist. (Flickr/Jamie Bernstein)" /></div><p>The remains of these closed churches are dotted all around Chicago. Some have been sold to congregations of other faiths. Thirteenth Church in Beverly has been converted into 16 loft condominiums. The abandoned 10th Church in Hyde Park was sold to a developer, but it&rsquo;s now in foreclosure and falling to pieces.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Holding onto your religion ... and property</span></p><p>So how did the Seventeenth Church hang on? This is the second part of Monica Schrager&rsquo;s question, and it&rsquo;s a good one, when you consider two things: The church now sits among prime real estate, and the congregation is modest in size.</p><p>In the 1980s Wacker Drive saw a major boom in office construction. Eventually Wacker replaced LaSalle as the center of Chicago&rsquo;s financial industry, with massive, glassy skyscrapers to show it. In 2013, <a href="http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/ksershon/media/2013USsMostExpensiveStreetsforOfficeSpace.jpg.html">Jones Lang and LaSalle listed Wacker Drive as the 20th-most expensive street for office space </a>in the country. Next door to the church, a hotel developer &nbsp;bought a narrow empty lot for 5 million dollars. (That&rsquo;s over one thousand dollars per square foot. The developer is now in the process of building a Hilton Garden Inn on that site.) Right next door to that, the historic motor club building was auctioned off in 2011 for 9.7 million. Word is, that building will soon be a hotel as well. &nbsp;</p><p>There may be a competitive real estate market raging outside the walls of Seventeenth Church but, believe it or not, the church says it&rsquo;s never gotten a serious offer from any kind of buyer. Still, Seventeenth Church is a big building, while the congregation is likely small.</p><p>Christian Science branch churches never publish their membership numbers because they don&rsquo;t want to be distracted by material measurements, so we can&rsquo;t know the exact size of the Seventeenth Church congregation. However, when I attend a recent church service, I count approximately 30 people in the 800-seat auditorium. Dave Hohle says that number is likely low, adding that perhaps forty or so attendees arrive for typical Sunday services.</p><p>If you think there&rsquo;s a mismatch between the building&rsquo;s stature and the size of the congregation, Lois Carlson notes the church was paid off in 1978, and members cover maintenance costs.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, even though we&rsquo;re a small congregation, we&rsquo;re an incredibly financially committed group,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s likely additional income. On occasion, the church receives a visit from a big movie studio. The Seventeenth Church amphitheater was the set for the &ldquo;choosing ceremony&rdquo; in the blockbuster film <em>Divergent</em>. The church&rsquo;s exterior played a cameo in <em>Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.</em> (In the film, the church was spared, while robots laid waste to the rest of downtown Chicago.) The church did receive income from those films but does not disclose the amount.</p><p>The congregation, regardless of costs, seems to be just as committed to downtown as it was when it first sought property in the 1940s. First and foremost, Lois Carlson says, the church can be a resource for what she calls &ldquo;hungry hearts that are looking for a deeper understanding for God.&rdquo; The church operates a reading room in the lobby six days a week. Carlson says tourists and curious passersby come into the reading room regularly. A small handful of people have become members this way. &ldquo;We just feel like we belong here because the need is so great,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>In keeping with that, the congregation regularly shares Harry Weese&rsquo;s architectural gem. They lend their auditorium to interfaith groups, and the local alderman conducts community meetings there. A couple times each month the church welcomes tour groups from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In October, more than 4,000 visitors arrived as part of the Open House Chicago event.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Down the road?</span></p><p>For now, it seems like Seventeenth Church congregation wants to stay put, but what about over the next decade or two? Will it be able to sustain itself? Professor Bruegmann is concerned that the building might not survive if the congregation were to move or dissolve. In fact, many of Harry Weese&rsquo;s buildings have already met the wrecking ball. Bruegmann argues that buildings from the &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s are no longer new, but they are not yet considered historic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s exactly at that moment when they&rsquo;re middle-aged buildings that they&rsquo;re most vulnerable,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Like Monica, he&rsquo;s very aware of the competitive real estate market on Wacker Drive. &ldquo;The economics of having such a small building on such a prominent, very expensive site are going to weigh so heavily in the balance,&rdquo; he worries. &ldquo;If the current congregation moved out, it would be extremely difficult to figure out what to do with a building like that and how you might save it.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mschrager.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Monica Schrager submitted our question about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist (Photo courtesy of Monica Schrager)" />Monica Schrager was thrilled that our investigation made a connection between her current home &mdash; Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood &mdash; and Washington, D.C., area, where she grew up. The relevant detail? Architect Harry Weese designed the Seventeenth Church as well as the DC Metro!</p><p>Monica is a web developer by trade but her interest in architecture is responsible for her question about Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</p><p>&ldquo;I love the variety of architecture we have in the city, from Mies Van Der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Monica works right across the street from Seventeenth Church in the old Jeweler Building. She sees the church every day outside her office window and she&rsquo;s definitely rooting for the church to survive, especially now that she has seen the inside. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the whole combination of the lighting and the acoustics is kind of really neat,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You almost don&rsquo;t feel like you&rsquo;re in the middle of the city. It&rsquo;s an oasis of sorts.&rdquo;</p><p>Her bottom line? She thinks Wacker Drive needs an oasis more than it needs another skyscraper.</p><p><em>Ellen Mayer is the Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ellenrebeccam">@ellenrebeccam</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 Cupich to be next Chicago archbishop http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cupich-be-next-chicago-archbishop-110827 <p><p>The Vatican has picked a replacement for Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.archchicago.org/Cardinal/">Cardinal Francis George</a>.</p><p>Pope Francis has tapped Bishop Blase Cupich, who leads the diocese in Spokane, Washington. Before that, Cupich was bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.</p><p>Pope Francis&#39; choice for Chicago has been closely watched. It is his first major U.S. appointment and the clearest sign yet of the direction he hopes to steer American church leaders. Cupich is a considered a moderate &nbsp;among the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/meet-bishop-blase-cupich-chicagos-incoming-archbishop-110828">Meet Bishop Blase Cupich, Chicago&#39;s incoming archbishop</a></strong></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Cardinal George has been the spiritual leader for two million Roman Catholics in Lake and Cook County for 17 years now. He&rsquo;s 77, and he&rsquo;s battling cancer for the third time.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>George first Chicago native as archbishop</strong></p><p>The Cardinal -- the first Chicago native to become archbishop here -- has been a polarizing and at times even controversial leader. But there are contradictions between the Cardinal&rsquo;s public and private life that could shape how we remember him.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/168598059&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>As former head of the <a href="http://www.usccb.org/">U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops</a>, the Cardinal led a high-profile fight against Obamacare and the birth control mandate. He&rsquo;s become one of the most prominent voices in the church, nationally and internationally, about what he sees as the dangers of secularism, same-sex marriage and most of all, restrictions on <a href="http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/cardinal-george-addresses-religious-freedom-in-speech-at-byu">freedom of religion</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5291_CardinalGeorge_Healing_Garden-scr.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Cardinal Francis George (File)" />The Cardinal&rsquo;s often portrayed as unfeeling, aloof, even imperious. But colleagues &ndash; and even some critics &ndash; said there&rsquo;s more to him than that.</p><p>Despite being a powerhouse in the Roman Catholic church, Graziano Marcheschi &ndash; who worked with him for a dozen years at the Archdiocese &ndash; said George is not overly impressed with himself, or the trappings of his office.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll stand in line, he&rsquo;ll grab the paper plate, he&rsquo;ll get the plastic spoon and fork, and he&rsquo;ll put the food on his own plate, and he&rsquo;ll just go sit where there&rsquo;s a place at any table,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not looking for the &lsquo;quote&rsquo; head table, he&rsquo;s not looking for the other power players in the room. He just goes and sits and he talks to whoever&rsquo;s there.&rdquo;</p><p>That doesn&rsquo;t mean the Cardinal&rsquo;s the touchy-feely type. But people who have gotten to know him say he&rsquo;s kinder and has more compassion than people generally give him credit for.</p><p>Marcheschi, who now heads mission and ministry at St. Xavier University, likes to tell a story to illustrate this.</p><p>George was speaking at a retreat for young volunteer ministers several years ago when a young woman asked him about the issue of female priests. The Cardinal told her the church believes it&rsquo;s God&rsquo;s will for men to be priests, not women.</p><p>&ldquo;And the young woman became very distraught, and began to cry, and ran out of the room,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;Well, Cardinal George was just speechless. And then afterward, he turned to my wife and he said, &lsquo;Nancy, what happened?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Marcheschi said his wife explained the woman may have felt the church was closing the door on her dreams. Then later some other women at the event asked the Cardinal if they could further discuss the subject of women&rsquo;s ordination later.</p><p>&ldquo;So he said, absolutely, make sure that young woman is part of the group, and I&rsquo;ll be happy to sit down with you,&rdquo; according to Marcheschi.</p><p>The women spent part of a day talking with the Cardinal, but he didn&rsquo;t budge from his view on church teachings prohibiting female priests. (That&rsquo;s a stance he&rsquo;s remained firm on &ndash; in fact, he has asked some priests who openly supported women&rsquo;s ordination to publicly apologize.)</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Obviously the young woman clearly would have liked to have heard something different and didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;But what did happen is she felt heard, she did not feel dismissed. Here she was with the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, a man with a global reach, a man who meets with popes and presidents, and he took an afternoon to meet with this young woman because he had seen how distressed she had been.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Two views of George legacy</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&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/cardinal%20george%202014%20by%20LK%202.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Cardinal Francis George speaks earlier this year. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /></div><p>Georgetown University Theology Professor Chester Gillis sees two differing views of George&rsquo;s legacy emerging.</p><p>&ldquo;Those who see him as defending the church against what might be kind of an anti-Christian sentiment in culture and society will raise him as a hero and say he stood against gay marriage, he stood against abortion, he stood against a lot of cultural patterns, and they think that&rsquo;s exactly what he should have done,&rdquo; Gillis said. &ldquo;Others will say that&rsquo;s all he did. That&rsquo;s not true that&rsquo;s all he did, but they&rsquo;ll say he was irrelevant.&rdquo;</p><p>On the progressive side, many see the Cardinal as rigid &ndash; even doctrinaire &ndash; in his view of church teachings.</p><p>&ldquo;He has been a constant complainer about the inroads of secularism and individualism, that those things have crept into the church, and that people aren&rsquo;t like they used to be, and not talking about how the church should be reacting today,&rdquo; said author Robert McClory. McClory is a charter member of the national Catholic group based in Chicago, <a href="http://cta-usa.org/">Call to Action</a>, and writes for the <a href="http://ncronline.org/authors/robert-mcclory">National Catholic Reporter</a>.</p><p>McClory credited the Cardinal with being a hardworking, conscientious overseer of the Archdiocese, but not an innovator.</p><p>&ldquo;He has followed kind of the directives of Pope John Paul II. Keep the church from moving forward, in fact, to keep the church moving backward,&rdquo; McClory said.</p><p>Cardinal George views church teachings in strict terms. He&rsquo;s a noted conservative intellectual, who has earned master&rsquo;s degrees and doctorates in both philosophy and theology. He personally rejects the terms liberal or conservative as being in the realm of politics, not religion. He describes things as being Gospel truth, or not.</p><p>&ldquo;Jesus didn&rsquo;t die on the cross so you could believe anything you want to,&rdquo; he told WBEZ. &ldquo;There is a faith, and the teachers of the faith are the bishops, with a lot of instruction by others. You can say I&rsquo;m Catholic but I don&rsquo;t believe this, I don&rsquo;t believe that. Well, you&rsquo;ve created your own church.&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps the sharpest criticism is reserved for Cardinal George&rsquo;s handling of the priest sex abuse scandal. He was instrumental in pushing for reforms in the early 2000s that changed how the church handles abuse across the U.S.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557">church records show</a> he let some <a href="http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Archdiocese-of-Chicago-Documents.aspx">priests stay in their positions despite abuse allegations</a>, and sometimes<a href="http://www.andersonadvocates.com/documents/Key_Chicago_Documents/McCormack%20Ex%20126.pdf"> even after the church review board recommended their removal</a>. Advocates point out the Cardinal also didn&rsquo;t discipline those priests&rsquo; superiors.</p><p>The most notorious case on the Cardinal&rsquo;s watch was that of Daniel McCormack, who was convicted of molesting several boys and named in numerous lawsuits over additional abuse allegations.</p><p>In 2012, the Cardinal told WBEZ: &ldquo;Oh, by far, the most difficult challenge has been the terrible fallout from the sexual abuse of children by some priests. I pray for victims. That&rsquo;s been the overwhelming weight in a sense that has stayed with me.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal&rsquo;s also faced protests from the LGBT community as an outspoken lobbyist against gay marriage.</p><p>He has compared the tactics of some gay rights activists to fascism, and he ignited controversy a few years ago by <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/01/07/chicago-cardinal-apologizes-for-linking-gay-pride-parade-to-ku-klux-klan/">likening organizers of Chicago&rsquo;s gay Pride Parade</a> to &ldquo;something like the Ku Klux Klan&rdquo; when he worried that the parade route would disrupt mass at a local church. He later backtracked and apologized for using an &ldquo;inflammatory&rdquo; analogy.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish he was leaving a legacy as someone who was in the trenches with the poor, as someone who was against gun violence that permeates this city,&rdquo; said Martin Grochala, a board member with <a href="http://www.dignityusa.org/">Dignity Chicago</a>, which advocates for LGBT people in the church. &ldquo;I think unfortunately for LGBT people, his legacy is going to be about advocating against gay marriage.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>&quot;A person of vision&quot;</strong></p><p>But supporter Robert Gilligan, who heads the Catholic Conference of Illinois, called Cardinal George a &ldquo;person of vision.&rdquo;</p><p>Gilligan said the Cardinal clearly and eloquently articulated Catholic church teachings on many issues, including the sacredness of life from conception to death, and that will be what George is remembered for.</p><p>Mary Anne Hackett, who heads the conservative <a href="http://catholiccitizens.org/">Catholic Citizens of Illinois</a>, said she thinks the Cardinal was doing just what he ought to, fighting against abortion and for what she calls &lsquo;true marriage,&rsquo; between a man and a woman.</p><p>&ldquo;What he tried to do was to restore the church in Chicago to what the church teaches,&rdquo; Hackett said. &ldquo;You could call that conservative, I would call that Catholic.&rdquo;</p><p>She acknowledged the Cardinal can sometimes be overly blunt. But she doesn&rsquo;t think those moments will be his lasting legacy:</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll be remembered as a person that is open to talk things over, to meet with people of all different persuasions and different opinions, to meet with them, and try to resolve difficulties and differences, on a personal one-to-one basis actually,&rdquo; Hackett said.</p><p>Dignity Chicago&rsquo;s Martin Grochala experienced this firsthand when he and his group met with George several times.</p><p>&ldquo;While we did not see eye to eye on church teaching about sexuality, our conversations were warm and respectful,&rdquo; Grochala said. &ldquo;He was very intelligent and quite, quite quick-witted. Very funny.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal has called this kind of contact with parishioners his greatest joy. And he has packed as much of it as he could into his final days in office. Although he&rsquo;s facing cancer for the third time, George has resembled the Energizer bunny of late.</p><p>His battles with cancer aren&rsquo;t the first time he&rsquo;s faced serious illness. As a teen, George fought polio and overcame it, though the disease left him with a limp. Quigley Preparatory Academy turned him away, saying he was disabled and couldn&rsquo;t be a priest. So George found another religious school, before going on to hold high posts in Rome and being appointed a bishop, archbishop and finally cardinal.</p><p>The Cardinal doesn&rsquo;t plan to entirely slow down. He has said repeatedly that he&rsquo;ll help his successor any way he can. He hopes to spend much of his time doing confirmations and hearing confessions.</p><p>&ldquo;The skill of living is to live as if you&rsquo;re going to die tomorrow and still do your job,&rdquo; the Cardinal said. &ldquo;In a sense prayer does that. You live for a while in a moment where you&rsquo;re not in charge, you&rsquo;re just at God&rsquo;s disposition. And as long as that&rsquo;s the case, then, well, I don&rsquo;t want to die tomorrow, but if I did, I&rsquo;m sure the Lord would still be providential in his care of the Earth. It doesn&rsquo;t depend on me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Lynette Kalsnes covers religion and culture. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@Lynette Kalsnes</a></em></p></p> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cupich-be-next-chicago-archbishop-110827 Bear ye one another’s burdens: Chicago Christians share health care costs http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bear-ye-one-another%E2%80%99s-burdens-chicago-christians-share-health-care-costs-110745 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/healthcare ministry pic.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Sherri Myers was at a dance class in 2009 when she felt something tear in her leg.</p><p dir="ltr">The Bolingbrook woman went to the hospital, and soon learned her leg was bleeding internally, and she needed surgery. Her bills started mounting. Myers was worried &mdash; &nbsp;her family had switched from traditional insurance to a new way to pay health care costs just months before.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was cheaper, truthfully,&rdquo; Myers said. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t need a lot of the bells and whistles of insurance, and with our insurance it didn&rsquo;t take care of that anyway, and it felt like instead of just sending for your insurance, it seemed like such a way to minister to other people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Myers had signed up for a cost-sharing ministry, and this was the first big test.</p><p dir="ltr">People from all over the country sent her checks to cover her medical bills, and cards to encourage her.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a gift in a way,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re praying for them, they&rsquo;re praying for you, at different times. And that God in all of it gets glorified.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Myers is a customer of <a href="http://samaritanministries.org/">Samaritan Ministries</a>, based in Peoria. As is her pastor, the Rev. Timothy Greene, at Living Word Bible Church in Morris. He said Samaritan&rsquo;s health care plan is based on the Biblical principle of carrying your own load, and helping others bear their burdens too.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our bodies are created by God, we need to take care of them,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There is a real sense of responsibility that we feel. We don&rsquo;t just want to rush off to the doctor for everything.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The pastor estimates nearly 20 percent of his 150-member congregation is part of Samaritan.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, thousands of people joined them during the rush to sign up for traditional health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. While millions bought private plans on the new health exchanges, others opted to join a Christian health-care sharing ministry.</p><p dir="ltr">With about 37,000 families enrolled, Samaritan is one of the three largest cost-sharing programs in the U.S.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Health care sharing ministries are a mechanism for people of faith to band together to share medical bills without using insurance,&rdquo; said Executive Vice President James Lansberry.</p><p dir="ltr">Many didn&rsquo;t want to buy insurance that covered abortion or some types of contraception.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t say people were attracted to us because they wanted a way (out) from the Affordable Care Act,&rdquo; Lansberry said. &ldquo;I think there were particular facets in plans in the Affordable Care Act that caused them to have some moral concerns that drove them toward health care sharing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, members are required to lead an evangelical Christian lifestyle and share certain religious beliefs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The members all agree to attend church, they agree to abstain from illegal drugs, they agree not to abuse tobacco or alcohol,&rdquo; Lansberry said, adding they also agree to abstain from sex outside of &ldquo;traditional marriage.&rdquo; (The plan won&rsquo;t cover pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases if they happen outside of marriage.)</p><p dir="ltr">Members sign a pledge each year, and their pastors sign off that they&rsquo;re following the tenets of the plan.</p><p dir="ltr">At Samaritan, the monthly cost ranges from $180 for a single person to $405 for a family. Members pay for routine care like doctor&rsquo;s visits out of pocket.</p><p dir="ltr">When big things happen, like baby deliveries or broken legs, customers help repay each other&rsquo;s bills. Samaritan coordinates who pays whom.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Every month we send our check in, but we&rsquo;re not just sending it to a big company somewhere in Omaha or Providence, we&rsquo;re sending it to an actual person,&rdquo; Lansberry said. Once a year, members send their checks directly to the company to help with administrative costs.</p><p dir="ltr">But not everyone thinks this system works. Some consumer advocates like Kevin Lucia &nbsp;have misgivings.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I have concerns in part because some of the important consumer protections that apply to the individual market do not apply to health care sharing ministries,&rdquo; said Lucia, a senior research fellow at <a href="http://chir.georgetown.edu/">Georgetown University&rsquo;s Center on Health Insurance Reforms</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">These companies don&rsquo;t have to meet protections provided by the Affordable Care Act because they&rsquo;re exempted as religious ministries. That&rsquo;s why people who sign up for them <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/">don&rsquo;t pay a penalty</a> for not having traditional insurance. The ministries are also exempt from many state and federal laws, Lucia said.</p><p dir="ltr">For instance, the ministries can cap reimbursements; and they don&rsquo;t have to cover pre-existing conditions.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://samaritanministries.org/how-it-works/faq/">Both of these things are true of Samaritan</a>, which caps reimbursements for a single need at $250,000, and qualifies how it covers pre-existing conditions. Some members are in an additional program to save up money and share higher costs for expensive things like cancer treatment that can easily top $250,000.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In most states, there are reserve requirements because if a plan takes on too much risk and they can&rsquo;t pay out the claims for their members, there is this possibility the insurance company will go under,&rdquo; Lucia said. Ministries don&rsquo;t have to hold such reserves in case health needs outpace contributions.</p><p dir="ltr">When that happens at Samaritan, <a href="http://samaritanministries.org/how-it-works/faq/">the company prorates </a>how much people get paid back for their bills. After three months of this, it asks members to vote on increasing their monthly contributions.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Because they&rsquo;re not covered in many states under insurance law, (members) don&rsquo;t have this kind of army of consumer regulators that are available to protect them in case something goes wrong,&rdquo; Lucia said.</p><p dir="ltr">If there&rsquo;s a problem, Lucia said, the only remedy is the Attorney General&rsquo;s Office or the courts. The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s Office reports one complaint back in 2000, and no lawsuits show up in federal or Cook County court records.</p><p dir="ltr">Samaritan&rsquo;s James Lansberry said members regulate themselves: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no direct regulation from any state or federal agency because there&rsquo;s no need for it. If we make our members upset, we won&rsquo;t have an organization.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">20 years after it started, Lansberry&rsquo;s organization is still here and growing stronger because of people like John Appleton. The West Chicago man&rsquo;s been a member of Samaritan Ministries for 15 years. He likens it to an Amish barn raising, where everyone voluntarily helps each other.</p><p dir="ltr">But he acknowledges not everyone will be comfortable with health care sharing ministries.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about where you put your faith,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If some people would rather put their faith in the government or an insurance company, for us, we put our faith in Christ and his people.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ reporter/producer covering culture and religion. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 17:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bear-ye-one-another%E2%80%99s-burdens-chicago-christians-share-health-care-costs-110745 Tiny religious sect thrives in Chicagoland despite cultural clash http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tiny-religious-sect-thrives-chicagoland-despite-cultural-clash-110712 <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/jain%202.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Jain community in greater Chicago take part in a sacred pageant to celebrate the birth of a great teacher, Lord Mahavir, 2,600 years ago. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /></div><p>When Hemali Shah was a girl, sometimes it was hard to be a Jain. She wanted to run in the grass with other kids, but had to worry about accidentally stepping on an insect, and killing it.</p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/">Jainism</a> is a tiny Indian religious sect in Chicago. Jains believe in nonviolence, to the point of not harming any sentient being, through action or even thought.</p><p>&ldquo;I was an athlete, so I played softball a lot, and obviously if you&#39;re playing in the grass, there&rsquo;s lot of bugs, so I ended up playing in the infield,&rdquo; Shah said.</p><p>Shah is 24 now, and said she&rsquo;s happy to avoid the grass. But she still struggles with Jain teachings about not being possessive and accumulating stuff.</p><p>&ldquo;Everywhere they&rsquo;re showing mega scenes of the newest and best thing that everyone wants and I guess that&rsquo;s how it works in like, Hollywood. That&rsquo;s one of my impulses, getting something just because somebody else has it, which is I guess not good at all.&rdquo;</p><p>Shah said she filters these desires through Jainism: &ldquo;I end up not buying it because my Dad tells me not to, because my Dad is completely non possessive, he doesn&rsquo;t like things. And I feel like I&rsquo;m just going to be on (the TV show) &lsquo;Hoarders&rsquo;,&rdquo; she said with a laugh.</p><p>These Jain beliefs seemingly clash with some of the most powerful forces in American culture. Yet Jains are finding ways to adapt and even thrive here in the U.S. They&rsquo;re passing these beliefs on to the next generation during their holiest holiday this week, called <a href="http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/images/31/PARYUSHAN_PARVA.htm">Paryushan</a>, at their temple in Bartlett.</p><p>To celebrate Paryushan, Hemali Shah&rsquo;s been fasting for almost a month. She hasn&rsquo;t consumed anything but boiled water since July. The time she used to spend preparing food and eating, is now spent reading religious materials.</p><p>&ldquo;It does get me closer to my soul, &lsquo;cuz I know that&rsquo;s what the whole process is for. It just takes away all the other distractions like television, or music, or food,&rdquo; Shah said.</p><p>Unlike previous generations, Shah grew up surrounded by Jains. She has Jain friends, and even Jain bosses. That&rsquo;s because she lives in the northwest suburbs, which you could almost call Jain central. That&rsquo;s where many families settled, near the temple in Bartlett.</p><p>A bell rings out at the temple. A dozen men and women in colorful Indian robes and dresses sit on the gleaming white marble floor of the Jain temple. They&rsquo;re praying and reading scripture.<br /><br />Several wear cloths covering their mouths to prevent insects or other organisms from getting swallowed and dying.</p><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/jain-temple.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Members of the Jain community pray and read scripture in their Bartlett Temple. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /><div class="inserted-credit">&nbsp;</div><div class="inserted-credit">&ldquo;What we are celebrating is known as Paryushan, and what that really means is staying close to your own soul,&rdquo; said Dr. Mukesh Doshi, a trustee of the <a href="http://www.jsmconline.org/">Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago</a>. &ldquo;It is a time of reflection, it is a time of observing austerities, it is a time to get engaged in religious activities and to get our soul as close to its own original-in-heaven pureness as possible.&rdquo;</div></div></div><p>Along with embracing nonviolence and non-possession, Jainism also tries to respect multiple viewpoints. But the religion wasn&rsquo;t necessarily an easy sell to Jain children back in the &lsquo;60s.</p><p>There were only about 20 families here then. Dr. Doshi said they didn&rsquo;t have a temple, a guru, even a place of worship. They met in a doctor&rsquo;s home.</p><p>&ldquo;At that time it was a challenge even to find a vegetarian food when you are going out. And many of us have spent time eating nothing but the corn chips during the day because here is no other vegetarian food&hellip;only corn chips,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Times are different. The Jain Society in Bartlett now numbers 1,700 families, and has the largest Jain temple in the U.S.</p><p>Vegetarian food is easy to come by.</p><p>Still, Dr. Doshi said, &ldquo;We have to make some changes which are appropriate for the Western world. Like for example, devout Jains should not be eating anything, consuming either food or water after sunset, and it is very difficult to observe.&rdquo;</p><p>Jains aren&rsquo;t supposed to eat at night, because they believe preparing food can inadvertently kill insects or organisms.</p><p>Dr. Doshi said Jains aren&rsquo;t supposed to eat garlic, onions and root vegetables, either. Onions and garlics are believed to increase desire, while harvesting a root vegetable kills bugs and uproots the entire plant.</p><p>But avoiding these foods has been nearly impossible in the U.S., so many don&rsquo;t follow that requirement.</p><p>Paryushan is based on the lunar calendar, but so many people work Monday to Friday, Jain officials here had to shift the dates so people could come.</p><p>Dr. Doshi said the Jain Society also translates texts and prayers into English so youth can understand what they&rsquo;re saying.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our main goal at this time is since our kids are exposed to the Western culture, where a meat-eating population is the norm, to keep them vegetarian. Another biggest challenge is to keep them free of drugs, free of liquor, no smoking and we try to insist on no premarital sex,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The Jain Society teaches these traditions with religious education at its temple and community center, and through giant gatherings like the Paryushan observance.</p><p>Nearly 3,000 people sat in the audience at the Jain community center in Bartlett Saturday, watching raptly as a man dressed in gold robes led them in religious songs.</p><p>Several Jain families paraded around the stage and the auditorium, each led by a young woman carrying a gold object on her head. They were part of a sacred pageant celebrating the birthday 2,600 years ago of a great Jain teacher called Lord Mahavir. Many modern Jain teachings flow from him.</p><p>But some young Jains like Hemang Srikishan didn&rsquo;t come for the pageant. Instead of performing rituals like worshipping idols, they were downstairs at a seminar on how to apply ancient Jain teachings to the modern world.</p><p>&ldquo;Rituals and practices that were very common amongst my parents&rsquo; generation and much more so among previous generations are simply not enough, I think, for people in my generation to connect to,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Instead, Srikishan said some young Jains are pushing the principles behind the religion even further. Many are concerned about the living conditions of dairy cows and becoming became vegan. Others are careful about avoiding toiletries made with animal products or testing.</p><p>Srikishan -- who&rsquo;s Jain and Hindu -- practices the tenets of Jainism at work. He&rsquo;s a middle school math teacher, and students are good at pushing their teachers&rsquo; buttons.</p><p>&ldquo;I see it as not just as a process of failure, but a process of building up the kind of person you want to be and getting to continuously self improve,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the essence of the teachings of Jainism.</p><p>Rather than succumbing to anger, Srikishan said, he tries to reflect, and to change his actions and his reactions to help his students.</p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tiny-religious-sect-thrives-chicagoland-despite-cultural-clash-110712 Mormon feminists find grounds for hope, fear in changing church http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/mormon-feminists-find-grounds-hope-fear-changing-church-110646 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mormon feminists 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jillian Paul sits at the kitchen table, putting together a Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle and pouring Cheerios for her two sons. Before they start to eat, she and her boys bow their heads for a moment in prayer.</p><p>As a woman, Paul is living the Mormon ideal: She&rsquo;s staying at home in Plainfield, raising her kids. But about a year ago, she began questioning her role in the church.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish we could hear less about how your most important job is a mother. I already know that,&rdquo; Paul said. &nbsp;&ldquo;I do wish there would just be more of a focus on developing your own relationship with God, and finding the path you&rsquo;re supposed to be on. Just worrying less about checking all the boxes: getting married in temple, having children. Those things will come when someone feels like God is telling them to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Paul is part of a small but vocal group of Mormon women who say they feel equal at work and in school, but not in the place that matters most to them &mdash; their church.</p><p>&ldquo;When I open our church magazine and see kind of a centerfold of all the leadership of the church and it is two pages of men, men, men, men, men. I think how am I supposed to feel equal? How am I supposed to feel like women have an equal voice?&rdquo; Paul asked. If you look at a<a href="https://www.lds.org/church/leaders?lang=eng"> general leadership chart</a>, it&rsquo;s not until you get down to the women&rsquo;s auxiliary and children&rsquo;s groups that you find women.</p><p>Paul and other Mormon feminists in the Chicago area say they are so small in number, there may be only one or two women who share their views in their congregations, known as wards.</p><p>But online their movement is gaining momentum. They&rsquo;re finding each other through websites like <a href="http://youngmormonfeminists.org/">YoungMormonFeminists.org</a> and <a href="http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/">FeministMormonHousewives.org</a>.</p><p>They say they had been encouraged by signs of change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But now they&rsquo;re treading lightly following the recent excommunication of prominent feminist <a href="http://ordainwomen.org/">Kate Kelly</a>, who forcefully advocated for women to gain the priesthood.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng">Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints</a> teaches that men and women have equal dignity, and are equally valued by God and the church. <a href="https://www.lds.org/manual/family-guidebook/organization-and-purpose-of-the-family?lang=eng">That equality comes through different roles</a>. Men preside over their families, and only men hold the priesthood, the authority to act in God&rsquo;s name so they can lead congregations, perform baptisms and bless the sick. Parts of that authority comes as early as age 12 for boys.</p><p>Kate Kelly&rsquo;s excommunication was &ldquo;really, really disappointing, just disheartening,&rdquo; said local Mormon Stefanie Franc. &ldquo;I really felt up until that moment actually that things were really changing in the church, and for the better.&rdquo;</p><p>Franc, who&rsquo;s an attorney at the Cook County Public Guardian&rsquo;s Juvenile Division, was initially encouraged by some nuanced changes. The Church allowed women to lead opening and closing prayers at the big general conferences. It changed the leadership structure locally so a few women could hold seats on each Ward Council. It allowed women to take on weighty doctrinal issues in speeches.</p><p>But after hearing about Kelly&rsquo;s excommunication, Franc said, &ldquo;It just kind of made that whole idea just come crashing down around me.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Franc wonders where the Latter-day Saints will draw the line on her own feminist activism. For instance, she joined in the annual <a href="https://www.facebook.com/WearPantsToChurchDay">Wear Pants to Church Day</a> protest, and now wears pants there regularly. (Mormon women typically wear dresses or skirts to church.)</p><p>Franc, who teaches Sunday School, pointed to a Bible lesson that she found problematic. It was about Deborah, a famous judge from Israel who also led men into battle.</p><p>&ldquo;The lesson manual wanted me to ask the question, &lsquo;How was Deborah a good friend?&rsquo; It made me so mad,&rdquo; Franc said. &ldquo;How was Deborah a good friend? I&rsquo;m sure she was a good friend, but she was also a good judge. She was also a good Army leader.&rdquo;</p><p>Instead, Franc asked the class about what leadership qualities Deborah had.</p><p>Franc said she appreciates the way the church cherishes women, but she can find it limiting.</p><p>&ldquo;The LDS church kind of puts women on this pedestal where we are gentle and kind and sweet,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I think it gets in the way of seeing women as legitimate forces for change and power.&rdquo;</p><p>But another local Mormon woman finds a different, more traditional power within the church.</p><p>Before she got married, Jesika Harmon traveled the world on mission trips, and co-hosted a teen TV competition on ABC Family. But when she had children, she opted to stay at home with them in their Buffalo Grove house.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t even tell you how I have seen with my husband having the priesthood, how that has empowered me in our family,&rdquo; Harmon said. &ldquo;Just because I can&rsquo;t baptize my child when they&rsquo;re 8 or just because I can&rsquo;t give my child a blessing when they&rsquo;re sick, I feel like just as equal in power and in authority by my husband&#39;s side, praying with him and adding my faith.&rdquo;</p><p>Most Mormon women share Harmon&rsquo;s views. A landmark 2012 <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2012/01/12/mormons-in-america-executive-summary/">Pew survey</a> found that 90 percent of women do not &nbsp;think females should hold the priesthood &mdash; compared to 84 percent of Mormon men.</p><p>More than half the women, 56 percent, said the best marriages were ones in which the husband worked, and the wife stayed home with the kids. Just 38 percent preferred marriages in which both spouses worked and jointly cared for kids and the home. You&rsquo;d have to invert those percentages to reflect the U.S. general public&rsquo;s view.</p><p>Harmon said she felt societal pressure to keep working outside the home, and appreciates the church&rsquo;s backing.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re given so many opportunities to teach and to serve and to stretch yourself that I feel like it has given me more and more confidence to say &lsquo;I am enough, just like this.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not enough for Chicago Mormon Nikki Ricks. She&rsquo;s a freelance urban planner who works from home. She favors putting women at the highest levels of the church and giving them the priesthood.</p><p>Holding these views can be so isolating, Ricks said, she started a group for Mormon feminists here in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, emotionally and spiritually and intellectually. It&rsquo;s been like hell,&rdquo; she said with a laugh. &ldquo;Just because you feel like you&rsquo;re going back on everything you&rsquo;ve ever known.&rdquo;</p><p>Winnetka psychotherapist Jennifer Finlayson-Fife calls these tensions &ldquo;the crucible of pressure.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Finlayson-Fife works with Mormon couples, and is Mormon herself. She said the church was more patriarchal when she was growing up in the 1970s, and in recent years, it has emphasized a more egalitarian view of marriage. But she&rsquo;s struck by how many Mormon clients still struggle with that issue compared to other clients.</p><p>Finlayson-Fife says many women find a strong sense of purpose and place in the church. But she says there are other women active in the faith who feel like the church is putting them in the back seat. They have a growing sense that women&rsquo;s roles in society are outpacing their religious experiences.</p><p>&ldquo;I see a lot of women who feel they have more credibility, that they&rsquo;re taken more seriously in their work than they are taken in the church, and so the incongruity is difficult,&rdquo; Finlayson-Fife said.</p><p>For Nikki Ricks, one of the most challenging moments in the faith was the blessing of her daughter, which is traditionally done by the husband and other men in the church.</p><p>&ldquo;I really wanted to be part of it,&rdquo; Ricks said. &ldquo;This is my baby girl, I&rsquo;ve nursed her every two hours and have gone through this pain and labor, and I wouldn&rsquo;t be part of this really beautiful part in her life.&rdquo;</p><p>After months of discussion, Ricks and her husband ended up doing it at home by themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;It just kind of felt nonsensical that anatomy is what differentiates one person from another,&rdquo; Ricks said. &ldquo;If we, all men and women, can become like God, why wouldn&rsquo;t we all be able to hold the power of God of Earth?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Most Mormon feminists are what I would call moderates in that they are not actively militating for ordination or for other major structural changes,&rdquo; said Professor Patrick Mason, who chairs Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re just saying, &lsquo;We want more of a voice&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>Mason said he thinks the Latter-day Saints is starting to hear them. He said changing economic conditions mean more women are becoming primary breadwinners and more men stay-at-home dads. There are more dual-income families. He said the church isn&rsquo;t sealed off from larger society, and in response, it&rsquo;s becoming less dogmatic about traditional gender roles.</p><p>But Mason thinks the most significant change is the way the church recently lowered the age for young women to become missionaries from 21 to 19. (Young men moved from 19 to 18.)</p><p>Lowering the age makes it easier for young women to go now because they won&rsquo;t be in their final year of college, and are less likely to be in a committed relationship. Mason said, as a result, they&rsquo;re signing up in droves.</p><p>&ldquo;And they&rsquo;re going to have a lot more leadership opportunities. Those women are going to come home, and I think that&rsquo;s going to be the really interesting dynamic moving forward. What are those women going to expect in terms of participation in their local congregations?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.neylanmcbaine.com/">Neylan McBaine</a>, a blogger and the founder <a href="http://www.mormonwomen.com/">The Mormon Women Project</a>, a library of interviews with LDS women, thinks the cultural importance of this change can&rsquo;t be overstated.</p><p>&ldquo;These girls who have led other missionaries, both male and female missionaries, in the mission field, are going to come home and they&rsquo;re going to have to assimilate back into their local practices,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And they&rsquo;re going to bring with them a lot of best practices from their missions, and they&#39;re not going to put up with a lot of our current local practices.&rdquo;</p><p>McBaine, who&rsquo;s considered a moderate on LDS women&rsquo;s issues, called the LDS doctrinal position on women &ldquo;glorious,&rdquo; pointing out Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. She said the church gives her a place to fully explore what it means to be a woman.</p><p>But McBaine thinks there are many things the LDS church can do locally to give women a stronger voice, without making major structural or doctrinal changes. She wrote a book highlighting these ideas called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Women-Church-Magnifying-Womens-Impact/dp/1589586883">Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women&rsquo;s Local Impact</a>, which is due out later this month.</p><p>For example, McBaine recommends making sure the budgets for young men and young women&rsquo;s programs are equitable. She&rsquo;d like to see girls get to go on home teaching visits with their mothers, the way boys 12 and up get to do with older men now.</p><p>Neither McBaine nor the Chicago feminists expect a change in the male priesthood anytime soon. But they do think going to church could look a little different for the next generation of Mormon women.</p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/mormon-feminists-find-grounds-hope-fear-changing-church-110646 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