WBEZ | Religion http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Wheaton “Resolution” Just a Beginning, for Some http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/wheaton-%E2%80%9Cresolution%E2%80%9D-just-beginning-some-114818 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Wheaton_Hawkins.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Wheaton College and a former professor signalled an end this week to a highly public conflict over religious expression. But at the very same hour, students at the conservative evangelical Christian school launched a faith-based action to elevate social justice issues that they say the rift highlighted on the campus and beyond.</p><p dir="ltr">Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at the evangelical Christian school, will be leaving Wheaton College. Hawkins was put on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-23/wheaton-professor-talk-next-steps-wbez-114270">administrative leave</a> in December for comments she posted on Facebook. She cited Pope Francis in saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The school <a href="http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/Media-Relations/Statements/Wheaton-College-Statement-Regarding-Dr-Hawkins">said</a> Hawkins&rsquo;s social media remarks &ldquo;appear to be in conflict with the College&rsquo;s Statement of Faith,&rdquo; which articulates the school&rsquo;s doctrinal beliefs, and which all faculty are required to sign and affirm each year.</p><p dir="ltr">At a joint press conference on Wednesday, where school administrators and Hawkins declined to take questions from the media, no information was shared regarding the mutual decision to part ways. But Wheaton College President Philip Ryken acknowledged that the conflict caused pain and stress for the school community over the last two months. &ldquo;We are saddened by the brokenness that we have experienced in our relationship and for the suffering this has caused on our campus and beyond,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And yet we are grateful to come to a place of resolution and reconciliation.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Ryken thanked Hawkins for developing the school&rsquo;s Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies, and announced that the college will establish an endowed scholarship to fund summer internships for students in that discipline.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In saying that Wheaton College is reconciled to Larycia Hawkins, we are not saying that everyone on every side of this conflict is totally satisfied, nor are we saying that we simply move on without addressing the issues that brought us to this place,&rdquo; Ryken said. &ldquo;But we are saying that we are moving forward in genuine friendship, wishing each other well, and wanting to bless each other in our work.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hawkins noted that their announcement fell on Ash Wednesday, the beginning to the Lenten season leading up to Easter. &ldquo;A season to reflect on where we are on our spiritual journeys, who we are, and what we are becoming,&rdquo; she said. Hawkins exhorted her supporters to express their acts of &ldquo;embodied solidarity&rdquo; to fight social injustices.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;May we, as people, stand with all of our neighbors, and not ever categorize or demonize our neighbors. And call upon our politicians and elites in society to do the same,&rdquo; said Hawkins. &ldquo;From their religious pulpits, to their presidential pulpits -- to call us as one. To call humans humans, and not categories of people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>40-day Fast</strong></span><br />At the same hour, students, alumni and supporters from other Christian institutions gathered outside the west suburban school&rsquo;s chapel, singing Christian songs. They were kicking off a nationwide 40-day Fast of Embodied Solidarity. Sophomore Esther Kao said the fast is students&rsquo; way to continue what Hawkins&rsquo;s had started on campus.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going to allow ourselves to be a homogenous community that just agrees with the administration without questioning it,&rdquo; said Kao. &ldquo;And I feel like this protest is--It&rsquo;s a hopeful protest, and we hope for changes to happen on campus.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The handling of Hawkins&rsquo;s case prompted serious and uncomfortable discussions among students and faculty about how the school treats minorities, how it engages with outside religions and social issues, and its overall position within the evangelical Christian landscape. Hawkins was Wheaton&rsquo;s first tenured, female African-American professor. A leaked memo by the school&rsquo;s faculty diversity committee <a href="http://time.com/4208102/wheaton-college-larycia-hawkins-discrimination/">reportedly</a> found that the handling of her case was discriminatory on the basis of race, gender and possibly even marital status.</p><p dir="ltr">Student Maryam Bighash said Hawkins created a space on the campus finally to discuss those issues. &ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s not about Dr. Hawkins anymore,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about, really, minorities. People who are not being heard, people who don&rsquo;t have a voice.&rdquo; Bighash said she wants to see students engage more actively with real-world issues that haven&rsquo;t penetrated what she describes as a Wheaton &ldquo;bubble&rdquo; -- such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and treatment of Muslims in the U.S. She and other organizers of the fast kicked off the observance with a training session with activists from outside religious institutions, to begin learning the basics of faith-based organizing. They plan to continue training with those religious leaders during the remainder of the school year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Reconciliation and questions</strong></span><br />For many on campus, questions remain -- such as, what was the role of outside players, including wealthy donors and influential cultural and political figures, in fanning the controversy? Why, ultimately, did Hawkins agree to leave the campus, and what were the terms of her departure? Will a review of the handling of the case, tasked to the Board of Trustees, be fair and honest? And what does &ldquo;reconciliation&rdquo; -- a term used many times in the school over the past week -- really look like?</p><p dir="ltr">Some on campus say a reconciliation has gotten off to a promising start, beginning with a campus-wide email sent by Provost Stanton Jones. In it, Jones apologized for his handling of Hawkins&rsquo;s administrative leave, the &ldquo;fracture&rdquo; of her relationship with the school, and for &ldquo;imposing administrative leave more precipitously than was necessary.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I believe that his email was one of the most important communications in this whole controversy,&rdquo; said Noah Toly, a professor of Political Science and International Relations. &ldquo;It was humble, courageous and gracious. An extraordinary act of confession.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Toly said the school also was right to hold a &ldquo;reconciliation service&rdquo; this week, where Hawkins spoke to the community for a final time. He and about a dozen other faculty converged at a downtown Wheaton pub after the worship service.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I do think that we began to do the work tonight that we&rsquo;re going to need to do,&rdquo; said Toly, reflecting on the service. &ldquo;It may take a long time. The chaplain pointed out it could take 40 days of Lent, it could take 40 weeks, it could take 40 years to handle some of the structural institutional issues -- that are real -- that are behind all this.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Yolanda Perdomo contributed to this report.<br />Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/wheaton-%E2%80%9Cresolution%E2%80%9D-just-beginning-some-114818 An Unkillable Myth About Atheists http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/unkillable-myth-about-atheists-114593 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/atheism.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In his new book,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/11/11/455573765/like-it-or-not-we-may-be-meaning-junkies">The Big Question: Why We Can&#39;t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God</a>, Alister McGrath argues that &quot;we need more than science to satisfy our deep yearnings and intuitions.&quot; That something more for McGrath is God, specifically, the Christian God.</p><p>As he develops this argument, again and again&nbsp;<a href="http://alistermcgrath.weebly.com/biography.html">McGrath</a>&nbsp;characterizes atheists who embrace science but not God as stuck in a place devoid of full understanding or meaning. There&#39;s a &quot;richness&quot; in the Christian engagement with nature that atheists miss, for example.</p><p>McGrath understands the foundational atheist perspective to be this: &quot;Since science discloses no meaning to the universe, the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no meaning to find.&quot;</p><p>Here, yet again, is the unkillable myth, the persistent blind spot about atheism that apparently no amount of explaining can make go away. No matter how lucidly atheists explain in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatheistbook.com/products/abetterlife">books</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.argumentsforatheism.com/arguments_against_meaning.html">essays</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2014/09/16/348949146/is-atheist-awe-a-religious-experience">blog posts</a>&nbsp;that, yes, life can and does for us have meaning without God, the tsunami of claims about atheists&#39; arid existence rolls on and on.</p><p>Where does this persistent (is it also willful?) misunderstanding come from?</p><p>McGrath offers some quotes from atheists that may seem, at first glance, to support his stance, as in this excerpted passage from&nbsp;The Atheist&#39;s Guide to Reality&nbsp;by Alex Rosenberg: &quot;What is the purpose of the universe? There is none. What is the meaning of life? Ditto.&quot; Yet, to conclude from these lines that atheists&#39; lives suffer from a lack of meaning amounts to conflating two very different things.</p><p>First is the understanding, emergent from evolutionary theory, that neither the universe as a whole, nor we humans within it, have evolved according to some plan of design. Cosmic evolution and human evolution unfold with no guiding hand or specific goals. Most atheists do accept this, I think.</p><p>Second is to embrace as a logical next step the idea that our own individual lives have no purpose or meaning. Do you know of any atheists who believe this? I don&#39;t.</p><p>Nor do I recognize the scientific communities of which I am a part &mdash; both online and offline &mdash; in McGrath&#39;s insistence that a &quot;sense of cosmic pointlessness haunts many today, particularly within the scientific community.&quot;</p><p>An anthropological perspective teaches us that we humans are a quintessentially meaning-making species. We create love and kindness (hate and violence, too), and also work that matters. We recognize and protect (or, too often, harm) our sense of connection to other animals, to plants and trees, to all of nature&#39;s landscapes. What are those acts if not ones of meaning and purpose?</p><p>Another new book, this one published just last week, takes up questions of meaning and purpose. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/books/review-in-when-breath-becomes-air-dr-paul-kalanithi-confronts-an-early-death.html">When Breath Becomes Air</a>&nbsp;is a memoir by a physician confronting, at age 36, a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer, made all the more poignant because we readers know at the outset that Kalanithi died at age 37, before he could fully complete the book.</p><p>Lurking within passages that speak to creating meaning in the face of death &mdash; passages beautiful enough to cause me to recommend the book to anyone and everyone &mdash; is a version of the unkillable myth. Kalanithi writes:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;To make science the arbiter of metaphysics is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning &mdash; to consider a world that is self-evidently not the world we live in. That&#39;s not to say that if you believe in meaning, you must also believe in God. It is to say, though, that if you believe science provides no basis for God, then you are almost obligated to conclude that science provides no basis for meaning and, therefore, life doesn&#39;t have any.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Kalanithi describes the &quot;sacredness&quot; of his work as a neurosurgeon, the burdens that make medicine &quot;holy.&quot; His view, though powerful and rewarding to read about, doesn&#39;t render his equation &mdash;&nbsp;<em>science provides no basis for God = life has no meaning</em> &mdash;&nbsp;into a truth.</p><p>Let&#39;s return to McGrath. His central theme in&nbsp;The Big Question&nbsp;revolves around &quot;the ultimate coherence of science and faith.&quot; I&#39;d like to say that open dialogue about the interweaving of scientific and religious narratives that McGrath champions &mdash; dialogue asking if that interweaving is really a possible, or even a desirable, goal &mdash; is the way forward. At the same time, I find intriguing and persuasive the perspective of physicist<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/05/i_won_t_take_money_from_templeton_science_and_religion_can_t_be_reconciled.html">Sean Carroll</a>, who explains why he takes no money from the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.templeton.org/who-we-are/about-the-foundation/mission">John Templeton Foundation</a>&nbsp;by saying it is because its underlying goal is to further this very notion of consilience.</p><p>It&#39;s a real irony that McGrath spills a lot of ink in his book railing against Richard Dawkins&#39; reductive judgments about people of faith &mdash; which I, too,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2012/03/26/149310560/atheist-firebrand-richard-dawkins-unrepentant-for-harsh-words-targeting-faith">have questioned</a>&nbsp;&mdash; while McGrath himself makes reductive judgments about atheists.</p><p>I&#39;m yet another atheist voice&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2014/08/28/343952506/atheists-feel-awe-too">chiming in</a>&nbsp;to say that my life, thanks very much, is full of meaning.</p><p>Now, how to make this unkillable myth about atheism into a moribund myth?</p><div><hr /></div><p><em>Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, often writes about human evolution, primate behavior and the cognition and emotion of animals.&nbsp;Barbara&#39;s most recent book on animals is titled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/176686699/how-animals-grieve">How Animals Grieve</a>.&nbsp;You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/bjkingape">@bjkingape</a></em></p></p> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/unkillable-myth-about-atheists-114593 Thou Shalt Not Toss Food: Enlisting Religious Groups To Fight Waste http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/thou-shalt-not-toss-food-enlisting-religious-groups-fight-waste-114546 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/plymouthchurchcompost-ea9f544a4e74bc4e151b8963d6f1d2ca443ea0d6-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res463210872" previewtitle="Brother William Valle of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Chillum, Md., loads potatoes onto his cart at the Capitol Area Food Bank, in Washington, D.C. A new government initiative seeks to engage faith-based groups on food waste — for instance, by using their existing relationships with food banks to redirect excess food to the hungry."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Brother William Valle of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Chillum, Md., loads potatoes onto his cart at the Capitol Area Food Bank, in Washington, D.C. A new government initiative seeks to engage faith-based groups on food waste — for instance, by using their existing relationships with food banks to redirect excess food to the hungry." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/foodbankpriest_custom-8709421c018f88560d9beede1aa5530b41bf921c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Brother William Valle of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Chillum, Md., loads potatoes onto his cart at the Capitol Area Food Bank, in Washington, D.C. A new government initiative seeks to engage faith-based groups on food waste — for instance, by using their existing relationships with food banks to redirect excess food to the hungry. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Separation of church and state? When it comes to fighting food waste, the U.S. government is looking to partner up with the faithful.</p></div></div></div><p>The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday launched the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epa.gov/communityhealth/foodsteward">Food Steward&#39;s Pledge</a>, an initiative to engage religious groups of all faiths to help redirect the food that ends up in landfills to hungry mouths. It&#39;s one piece of the agency&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/16/440825159/its-time-to-get-serious-about-reducing-food-waste-feds-say">larger plan</a>&nbsp;to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.</p><p>&quot;We can make leaps and bounds in this process if we tackle this problem more systemically and bring a broader number of stakeholders to the table,&quot; EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tells us. By engaging religious communities, she says, &quot;we are tapping into incredibly motivated and dedicated people.&quot;</p><p>Food waste connects to the core values of many faith communities, particularly helping the poor and feeding the hungry, McCarthy notes.</p><p>As we&#39;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/16/440825159/its-time-to-get-serious-about-reducing-food-waste-feds-say">reported</a>, more than 1,200 calories per American per day are wasted, according to U.S. government figures. Loss occurs on the farm, at the retail level and in homes. We consumers often toss out foods because they&#39;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/12/26/167819082/dont-fear-that-expired-food">passed their sell-by date</a>&nbsp;&mdash; but are still just fine to eat &mdash; or because we buy more than we can eat before it goes bad.</p><div id="res463248692" previewtitle="Members of Parroquia's San José Latino ministry glean from the fields of Angelic Organic's farm in Caledonia, Ill."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Members of Parroquia's San José Latino ministry glean from the fields of Angelic Organic's farm in Caledonia, Ill." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/angelicorganic_wide-369fe8ec03bf954e7ff68fd5435dcc4fed83fec1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Members of Parroquia's San José Latino ministry glean from the fields of Angelic Organic's farm in Caledonia, Ill. (Courtesy of Parroquia San José)" /></div><div><div><p>As McCarthy notes, a lot of that is discarded but still edible and wholesome and could be used to feed some of the 48 million American who struggle to get enough to eat.</p></div></div></div><p>At the consumer level, changing behavior is key, says EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, and faith-based groups can help make that happen in a variety of ways. For instance, when these organizations hold potlucks, the leftovers can go to the local food bank.</p><p>EPA says groups can also work with local grocers, schools and restaurants to direct food to food banks and shelters that would otherwise be wasted. They can hold seminars for the faithful and the broader local community to teach them how to menu plan and shop their own refrigerators first to avoid buying excess food, and how to compost the leftover scraps. EPA has developed a toolkit with lots more suggestions for groups that sign its &quot;Food Steward&#39;s Pledge.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Getting out the message &mdash; particular what individual families can do ... local community leaders are critical in doing that,&quot; Stanislaus tells us. And because faith-based leaders are often trusted advisers in their communities, &quot;we thought they were a natural ally.&quot;</p><p>Food waste is closely tied to another growing concern for many faith-based organizations: climate change, a problem that disproportionately affects the world&#39;s poor. Food waste is the single biggest material in U.S. landfills, according to the U.S. Agricultural Department. As this waste decomposes, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.</p><div id="res463212011" previewtitle="The compost/recycle system at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minn. According to Creation Justice Ministries, it's just one example of the various projects churches have implemented to reduce waste."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The compost/recycle system at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minn. According to Creation Justice Ministries, it's just one example of the various projects churches have implemented to reduce waste." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/plymouthchurchcompost-ea9f544a4e74bc4e151b8963d6f1d2ca443ea0d6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The compost/recycle system at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minn. According to Creation Justice Ministries, it's just one example of the various projects churches have implemented to reduce waste. (Courtesy of Plymouth Congregational Church)" /></div><div><div><p>Last summer, Pope Francis made headlines around the globe when he issued a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/18/415429852/pope-francis-climate-change-a-principal-challenge-for-humanity">papal encyclical</a>&nbsp;urging action on climate change. That call helped energize new conversations throughout the Catholic church on environmental issues &mdash; including food waste, says Cecilia Calvo, who coordinates the environmental justice program for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She says more Catholics are asking, &quot;Rather than contributing to a culture of waste, how can we be conscious of our choices?&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Many other faith-based groups already have programs targeting food waste.</p><p>For example, in the past year, the&nbsp;<a href="http://creationcare.org/">Evangelical Environmental Network,</a>&nbsp;a policy and advocacy group, launched its own &quot;Joseph&#39;s Pledge&quot; program: It teaches churches how to minimize food waste through actions like donating to food banks, planting community gardens and composting. (The program&#39;s name refers to the biblical Joseph, who helped guide ancient Egypt through seven years of famine.) About 200 churches have signed up so far, EEN President Mitch Hescox tells us. The goal is to reach 1,000.</p><p>&quot;Evangelicals are primarily conservative politically,&quot; Hescox notes. &quot;They want to take action by themselves. And this is one step they can do themselves to help people to address the problem. And it&#39;s a win-win. &quot;</p><div id="res463216657" previewtitle="A compost station for organic waste created by fifth graders at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island in Providence."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A compost station for organic waste created by fifth graders at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island in Providence." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/15/hazoncompost_edited_custom-14c86fbaedefb9fea44ae18b328be261f889024b-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 229px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A compost station for organic waste created by fifth graders at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island in Providence. (Courtesy of Hazon)" /></div><div><div><p>Shantha Ready Alonso, executive director of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.creationjustice.org/">Creation Justice Ministries</a>, an environmental justice group spun out of the National Council of Churches, says the 100,000 congregations in her organization&#39;s network, representing 45 million people, have a variety of programs to address food waste.</p></div></div></div><p>She points to the&nbsp;<a href="http://ferncliff.org/">Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center</a>&nbsp;in Little Rock, Ark. Run by the Presbyterian Church, she says it&#39;s a model program where 100 percent of food scraps get composted. She says some churches grow food in on-site gardens and direct it to the needy. And she notes that churches and individuals with gardens are also encouraged to donate to&nbsp;<a href="http://ampleharvest.org/">Ample Harvest</a>, a nonprofit that connects gardeners to local food pantries.</p><p>&quot;Good stewardship is part of our DNA,&quot; she tells us. &quot;And the idea that 1 in [7] people in America are going hungry and yet we are wasting [so much] food is awful.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://hazon.org/">Hazon</a>, a Jewish environmental organization, already has several programs focused on food and sustainability, says Becca Linden, the group&#39;s associate program director. But &quot;this will be the year we make food waste a priority,&quot; she says.</p><p>Among other actions, she says Hazon will screen the food waste documentary&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/18/456489490/in-just-eat-it-filmmakers-feast-for-6-months-on-discarded-food">Just Eat It</a>, publish a compost guide and raise awareness that expiration dates don&#39;t necessarily mean food is no longer fit to eat.</p><p>Meanwhile, Muslims around the world have been calling attention to the food&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28168162">waste that occurs during Ramadan</a>, a period when fasting is followed by feasting that can result in over-purchasing of food. The Quran says Muslims should &quot;eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.&quot; In the U.S., the group&nbsp;<a href="http://www.greenmuslims.org/">Green Muslims</a>&nbsp;is trying to spread awareness of Islam&#39;s environmental teachings. For instance, the group offers a&nbsp;<a href="http://greenmuslims.org/DCGM%20Green%20Iftar%20Guide.pdf">guide</a>&nbsp;to hosting a zero-waste&nbsp;iftar.</p><p>Of course, action on food waste transcends Abrahamic religions. One example:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.whiteponyexpress.org/">White Pony Express</a>, a program in Contra Costa County, Calif., that rescues food from farms and farmers markets, grocers, restaurants and caterers. It was founded by the leader of Sufism Reoriented, an American spiritual order.</p><p>Cecilia Calvo of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says there&#39;s a growing recognition that protecting the environment is everyone&#39;s moral duty. As Calvo notes, the question for many has become: &quot;What does it mean to care for our common home?&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/18/463109192/thou-shalt-not-toss-food-enlisting-religious-groups-to-fight-waste?ft=nprml&amp;f=463109192" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 09:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/thou-shalt-not-toss-food-enlisting-religious-groups-fight-waste-114546 A Religious Forecast for 2050: Atheism is Down, Islam is Rising http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/religious-forecast-2050-atheism-down-islam-rising-114291 <p><p>By the end of the century, Muslims could outnumber Christians for the first time in history, according to a<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;released by the Pew Research Center.</p><p>&quot;Another way of thinking about it is Christianity had a seven-century head-start on Islam, and Islam is finally catching up,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/staff/alan-cooperman/" target="_blank">Alan Cooperman</a>, the director of religion research at Pew.</p><p>Christianity is currently the world&#39;s largest religion, making up a third of the world&#39;s population with 2.2 billion adherents. Pew research shows that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The religious group will make up 30 percent of the world&#39;s population by 2050, compared to just 23 percent of the population in 2010. That means the number of Muslims in the world will nearly equal the number of Christians by 2050.</p><p>If Islam&#39;s growth spurt continues, Pew data shows, Muslims could outnumber Christians soon after the year 2070.</p><p>That&#39;s not to say that the total number of Christians is decreasing; Christianity&#39;s growth rate is just not as fast as Islam&#39;s. While the number of Christians will increase from about 2.1 billion to 2.9 billion by 2050, Muslims will jump from 1.6 billion to 2.8 billion.</p><p>This growth has to do with the relatively young age of the Muslim population as well as high fertility rates. Other religious groups have aging populations. Among Buddhists, for example, half of adherents are older than 30 and the average birth rate is 1.6 children. By contrast, in 2010, a third of the Muslim population was under 15. What&#39;s more, each Muslim woman has an average of 3.1 children, while the average for Christian women is 2.7.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PF_15.04.02_ProjectionsOverview_projectedChange640px.png" style="height: 819px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></div><p>The Pew research revealed two other interesting shifts in world religious perspectives, Cooperman says.</p><p>Atheists, agnostics and those who do not affiliate with religion will make up a smaller percentage of the world&#39;s total population by 2050 &mdash; even though the group is growing in the U.S. and Europe. The decline is primarily because those who are unaffiliated religiously have low fertility rates, with women bearing an average of 1.7 children in their lifetime.</p><p>Between now and 2050, the hub of Christianity will also shift &mdash; from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2010, the majority of the Christian population &mdash; 25.5 percent &mdash; lived in Europe, but sub-Saharan Africa will become home to nearly 40 percent of the world&#39;s Christians by 2050. Fertility rates are also behind this change. Christians living in sub-Saharan African have the highest fertility rates among Christians worldwide: Each woman has, on average, 4.4 children.</p><p>Cooperman emphasizes that a lot could change between now and 2050.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re not saying that this will happen; it&#39;s if current patterns and trends continue,&quot; Cooperman says. &quot;We do not know what&#39;s going to happen in the future. There could be war, revolution, famine, disease. These are things no one can predict and that could change the numbers.&quot;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/12/25/460797744/a-religious-forecast-for-2050-atheism-is-down-islam-is-rising?ft=nprml&amp;f=460797744">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 25 Dec 2015 23:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/religious-forecast-2050-atheism-down-islam-rising-114291 Global Activism: ORPHANetwork http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-orphanetwork-112695 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220134903&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a54d33cc-4c4b-8795-5bb3-5c88eb0baa35">When a church&rsquo;s high school group went on a trip to Nicaragua in the 1990s, they were &ldquo;shocked&rdquo; by the poverty they witnessed. The students then committed to doing what they could to make a difference. As they kept going back to Nicaragua, they left with &ldquo;a high that never went away.&rdquo; To help, they began selling off their personal belongings, including literally, the clothes off their backs. The trips were the genesis of what would become the <a href="http://www.orphanetwork.org">ORPHANetwork</a>. For </span>Global Activism, we&rsquo;ll talk with the group&rsquo;s executive director, Dick Anderson and Travis Simone, one of those original high-schoolers whose life was changed in Nicaragua. Today, Travis is senior pastor of Williamsburg Community Chapel in Williamsburg, Virginia.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-a54d33cc-4c6a-9ae6-c88a-024156f51aac">EVENT</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr">5th annual <a href="http://www.partywithapurposechicago.com">&#39;Party With a Purpose</a>&#39; to benefit&nbsp;1,100 children in the community of Nueva Vida</p><p>Donald E. Stephens Convention Center</p><p>9291 Bryn Mawr Ave</p><p>Rosemont, IL 60018</p></p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 09:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-orphanetwork-112695 Iranian rappers speak about hip-hop and its future in Iran http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/iranian-rappers-speak-about-hip-hop-and-its-future-iran-112571 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Zedbazi_Doc.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&quot;Our group was the first group that used what they call explicit language in Iranian music.&quot;</p><p>So says Alireza Jazayeri, a rapper whose stage name is Alireza JJ, who originally gained fame as a member of a hip-hop group called Zedbazi, &quot;Even before the revolution there was no explicit language or curse words in art. We were the first who actually brought it to mainstream, like they did in American hip-hop in the late 80s.&quot;</p><p>The Iranian rap scene blew up in the mid 2000s in Tehran. Zedbazi formed in 2002, in the middle of this boom, and steadily gained popularity through the 2000s with their controversial language and lyrics.</p><p>&quot;Now rap is undoubtedly the most popular genre of music among 18-25 year old Iranians. Even 13-17 rap is like the main thing teenagers like to listen to,&quot; said Jazayeri.</p><p>If you listen to Iranian rap and hip-hop you&#39;ll hear frequent references to 021, the area code for Tehran and calling card for Iranian rap as a whole. &quot;I want you to throw your hands up high, higher/ throw 021 up forever&quot; raps Hichkas, lauded as the godfather of Iranian rap, in his 2008 song Bunch of Soldiers.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QU1NNAH6b_g" width="620"></iframe></p><p>But not all Iranian rappers live in the 021. Jazayeri and his group are currently based in France: &quot;I don&#39;t think in the near future we&#39;re going to be legal musicians in Iran,&quot; he said.</p><p>All musicians in Iran must have their music approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to legally produce or perform music. The rules are strict and the stamp of approval is hard to come by. In 2010 the deputy of the ministry stated that only 20 percent of music reviewed receives approval.</p><p>Inside the country Iranian rappers have formed a lively underground music scene. Djs mix beats in their bedrooms, rappers record in basements, and everything is shared for free online.</p><p>&quot;I would say inside of Iran 99 percent of rappers are working underground. They&#39;re not exactly being arrested but they can&#39;t legally perform or sell their music,&quot; explained Jazayeri. Some musicians have faced difficulties: Hichkas currently lives outside Iran after an arrest and trouble with authorities. Rapper Shahin Najafi fled to Germany after a fatwa was issued against him for rapping about a revered imam.</p><p>&quot;Iranian Hip-hop is at a very interesting stage of its life. But in the process of it becoming the most popular genre of music among the Iranian youth it went through a lot of transformation,&quot; commented rapper Salome MC, hailed as Iran&#39;s first female rapper, who now lives in Japan. &quot;It started from one website and few people that put their songs in it. Then it turned into something bigger that none of us could probably foresee back then.&quot;</p><p>Those who identify themselves as part of the 021 or Iranian hip-hop have formed an international musical community: collaborating on music, performing at &quot;virtual shows&quot; projected on computer screens, and promoting each others&#39; work from Paris to London to Tehran.</p><p>&quot;Because we record outside of Iran and we don&#39;t do any political stuff, they just consider us foreign artists who use the Persian language,&quot; said Jazayeri, &quot;We are not Iranian artists in the eyes of the government because Iranian artists have to have permissions to sell records and give concerts in Iran, and I don&#39;t see us getting that anytime soon.&quot;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UdlL5nQ3W3k" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Jazayeri says his hope for the future of Iranian rap is that it becomes legal, and that his music will become legal.</p><p>And with the recent Iranian nuclear deal, things may soon be changing. Trade will increase between the US and Iran, and travel between the two countries may become easier.</p><p>&quot;I doubt there will be a grand culture shock, at least for the middle to upper class,&quot; Said Salome MC, &quot;but the changes in economy as the key element of a social structure will effect everything, and hip hop will be one for sure. Will we have live hip-hop shows? I doubt it will happen in the near future, but I do think that once we have a bigger middle class and less people in poverty line, the demand for a more free public domain will increase, more people will start to realize the lack of human rights and make an issue off of it.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t know what will happen,&quot; concludes Jazayeri, &quot;I think when Iran&#39;s doors begin to open to the west there are some things that are going to change for sure. I think they&#39;re going to be more relaxed in some areas especially with a lot of foreign investors and people coming in and tourists. But that&#39;s going to take time. A country doesn&#39;t do a 180 in just a few years time so we&#39;ll see. But I&#39;m optimistic. It was a good deal, and it was great for Iran I think.&quot;</p><p>Listen to more Iranian rap here:</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/111594044&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 11:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/iranian-rappers-speak-about-hip-hop-and-its-future-iran-112571 Pope's encyclical takes on climate change http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/popes-encyclical-takes-climate-change-112207 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/popefrancis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN&nbsp;</strong><em>The Vatican will release a rare encyclical on the environment Thursday. A leaked draft of Pope Francis&rsquo; letter came out earlier this week. In the draft, the Pope reportedly calls for urgent action to fight climate change and says global warming is &ldquo;mostly&rdquo; due to human action. </em>Morning Shift<em>&#39;s Tony Sarabia asked Sister Dawn Nothwehr, the Erica and Harry John Family Endowed Chair in Catholic Theological Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union, to discuss what this means.</em></p><p>VATICAN CITY &nbsp;&mdash; There&#39;s something of a whodunit going on in the Vatican to discover who leaked Pope Francis&#39; environment encyclical to an Italian newsweekly, deflating the release of the most anticipated and feared papal document in recent times.</p><p><em>L&#39;Espresso</em> magazine published the full 191 pages of &quot;Laudato Si&quot; (Be Praised) on its website Monday, three days before the official launch. The Vatican said it was just a draft, but most media ran with it, given that it covered many of the same points Francis and his advisers have been making in the run-up to the release.</p><p>On Tuesday, the Vatican indefinitely suspended the press credentials of <em>L&#39;Espresso</em>&#39;s veteran Vatican correspondent, Sandro Magister, saying the publication had been &quot;incorrect.&quot; A letter from the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, to Magister advising him of the sanction was posted on the bulletin board of the Vatican press office.</p><p>Magister told <em>The Associated Press</em> that his editor, not he, obtained the document and decided to publish it.</p><p>&quot;I just wrote the introduction,&quot; Magister said in a text message, adding that he had promised the Vatican to keep quiet about the scoop.</p><p>In the draft of the encyclical, Francis says global warming is &quot;mostly&quot; due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. He calls for a radical change in behavior to save the planet for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.</p><p>Several Vatican commentators hypothesized that the leak was aimed at taking the punch out of Thursday&#39;s official launch of the encyclical, in which the Vatican has lined up a Catholic cardinal, an Orthodox theologian, an atheist scientist and an economist to discuss the contents.</p><p>They noted that conservatives &mdash; particularly in the U.S. &mdash; attacked the encyclical even before it was released, chiding the pope for talking science in a church document and insisting that global warming isn&#39;t a scientific reality. It would be in their interest, the argument goes, to fudge the pope&#39;s message via a scoop by<em> L&#39;Espresso</em>, since Magister has championed views of the conservative Catholic camp hostile to Francis.</p><p>Italian daily La Stampa suggested that the leak might have come from conservatives inside Vatican, noting that Francis&#39; reform plans for the Vatican bureaucracy have been resisted by the more conservative old guard who would have an interest in sabotaging Francis&#39; labor of love.</p><p>A leak, however, was to be expected, given that drafts of the document have been circulating for months and that the text had been translated into multiple languages before its official release.</p><p>Not to mention that the Vatican has had a long and storied history of leaked documents: The last big scandal in 2012 resulted in the pope&#39;s butler being put on trial for stealing his private papers and passing them off to an Italian journalist. He was convicted but was eventually pardoned by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.</p><p>In the aftermath of the &quot;Vatileaks&quot; scandal, the Vatican City State updated its criminal code to include severe penalties for anyone who leaks a Vatican document or publishes news from it: Up to two years in prison and a 5,000 euro ($5,600) fine.</p><p>Vatican commentator John Allen, writing for the Boston Globe&#39;s Crux site, said the leak highlighted the clash of cultures at play at the Vatican over different understandings of embargoes: The Vatican regularly provides accredited journalists with embargoed documents to give them time to read them and prepare articles, with the understanding that they will only publish at a fixed time.</p><p>While the Vatican cried foul that the encyclical embargo had been violated,<em> L&#39;Espresso </em>obtained the article independently of the Vatican press office, and thereby wasn&#39;t beholden to the noon Thursday embargo that had been set.</p><p>&quot;As a final observation, the frenzy probably will boost interest in Thursday&#39;s official presentation, if for no other reason than to see whether there are actually any substantial changes between the leak and the real deal,&quot; he said.</p></p> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/popes-encyclical-takes-climate-change-112207 Global Activism in India: Pravah helps youth overcome caste, sexism and religious intolerance http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-india-pravah-helps-youth-overcome-caste-sexism-and-religious <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/india%20ga%20pravah%20manisha%20and%20husband.JPG" title="Manisha emotionally talks of how much of India society considered education wasted on a woman from a lower class. But after working with the NGO, Pravah, she and her husband - pictured - are inspired to achieve. Manisha is now a business owner. Taken at Pravah's Delhi offices February 1, 2015 (Photo by Steve Bynum)" /></div><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-ebcdae0c-3049-7fee-9931-6c6284daf4f9">We continue our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888">Global Activism in India</a> series with a visit to Delhi. We and <a href="http://idsusa.org/">India Development Service</a>, met with the NGO, Community Youth Collective Learning and Leadership Journey is a partnering initiative of the NGO, <a href="http://pravah.org/">Pravah</a>. The project tries to inspire India&rsquo;s youth to become leaders and overcome traditional societal barriers, such as <span id="docs-internal-guid-ebcdae0c-3049-7fee-9931-6c6284daf4f9">caste, sexism and religious intolerance</span>. Pravah received attention when co- director, Neha Buch, introduced President Obama before one of his speeches during his visit to India. We&rsquo;ll chat with co-director, Sonal Chaturvedi and young people about how they now dream and achieve in areas that at one time were cut off from them.</span></p><p><strong>Jerome McDonnell and Steve Bynum of WBEZ&#39;s <em>Worldview</em> and </strong><strong>India Development Service (IDS)</strong><strong> share their adventures in India</strong></p><p>Sunday, May 17th, 2015, 5:00pm-7:30pm</p><p>The Meadows Club</p><p>2950 Golf Road, Rolling Meadows</p><p>Free of Charge - Dinner Included</p><p><strong><a href="https://mycity.sulekha.com/development-unveiled_buy_2090130">Reserve Tickets Here</a></strong></p></p> Thu, 07 May 2015 13:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-india-pravah-helps-youth-overcome-caste-sexism-and-religious Catholics say final farewell to Chicago's Cardinal George http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/catholics-say-final-farewell-chicagos-cardinal-george-111930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/george funeral_lk.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 6:08 p.m.</em></p><p>About 1,200 people packed Chicago&rsquo;s Holy Name Cathedral Thursday to say goodbye to the late Cardinal Francis George.</p><p>The smell of incense rose into the rafters as nearly 70 Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops filed slowly into the cathedral. They were joined by top political leaders, priests and religious sisters, as well as George&rsquo;s family, friends, co-workers and parishioners.</p><p>The mass ended three days of visitation, including an interfaith service and an overnight vigil Wednesday.</p><p>&ldquo;He offered a brilliant mind in love with God,&rdquo; said Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who gave the homily. &ldquo;No one could ever dispute the extraordinary intellectual gifts God gave Francis George, nor could one ever dispute the enthusiasm with which he put these gifts to use for the good of the church and for the world.&rdquo;<br /><br />George, who was the first Chicago native to become archbishop here, died at home Friday after his third bout with cancer. He retired in November, and was replaced in the role by Archbishop Blase Cupich. George was 78.</p><p>The cardinal was known as an intellectual leader and prominent conservative voice in the church here and abroad. As former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he led the bishops&rsquo; battle against the Obamacare contraception mandate and against same-sex marriage. He was a fierce fighter for religious liberty, and often warned of the dangers of rising secularism.</p><p>Sartain said he first heard of George more than 20 years ago, when he read a talk George had given while still bishop of Yakima, Wash.</p><p>&ldquo;Here was a clear voice, a voice I wanted to listen to, a pastor who helped me understand the faith and taught me how to teach it,&rdquo; Sartain said, adding George had a &ldquo;keen ability to communicate clearly what he believed.&rdquo;</p><p>Sartain described the cardinal as someone having &ldquo;a profound interior life motivated by hope, hope in the Lord,&rdquo; and a strong sense of compassion for the suffering learned at an early age after contracting polio at 13.</p><p>Before the mass started, the line to get into the cathedral wrapped around the block. It was by invitation only, and seemingly everyone had a story of knowing the cardinal.</p><p>Mary Anne Yep said the cardinal supported her company&rsquo;s fight over a religious liberty issue. Triune Health Group joined a lawsuit to protest the contraception mandate, saying it would force them to go against their conscience.</p><p>&ldquo;The cardinal took the time to give us his home phone number. How many times can you actually be calling a cardinal to say, &lsquo;Cardinal, guide us through this, help us on this?&rsquo; Yep said. &ldquo;He helped us write a whole declaration for religious liberty &hellip; He was so profound and so succinct in what he had to say.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He was always smiling, always approachable to young people as well,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;He knew my kids&rsquo; names. It was beautiful.&rdquo;</p><p>She attended an event where someone asked his sister if there was anything people didn&rsquo;t know about George. His sister replied that he was in pain every day, but never let anybody know it.</p><p>Yep said she&rsquo;s glad he&rsquo;s no longer in pain, a common refrain this week.</p><p>Graciela Contreras, who served as the coordinator for Hispanic ministry at one of the vicariates here, said George&rsquo;s death is a great loss for Latinos. One of his first acts was to create a pastoral plan to make Latinos feel welcome and increase archdiocesan programs for them, work started under Cardinal Bernardin, she said.</p><p>George created an Office for Racial Justice after the beating death of a black boy by white teens. The office created anti-racism training for thousands of employees and school leaders that led to workshops, unity events and a book. It gave new prominence to the issue.</p><p>He appointed Sister Anita Baird to head the effort, and she was one of two people vying to be first in line Thursday. She described the cardinal as a &ldquo;dear mentor and friend&rdquo; who was approachable and had a great sense of humor.</p><p>&ldquo;He loved to hear hear people&rsquo;s opinions, he loved the challenge. He would challenge you, but he wanted you to also voice your opinion, and you were always treated with respect.&rdquo;</p><p>The director for campus ministry at Chicago State University, Corrine Grant, said George had great warmth and never declined a request to speak to students.&nbsp; &ldquo;That was his problem, he never said no. He&rsquo;d always find a way to work it into his schedule. That helped our schedule, but I know it crowded his schedule.&rdquo;</p><p>A college student from Benedictine University who got to know George in high school said he respected the way the cardinal kept his core beliefs.</p><p>&ldquo;He wasn&rsquo;t scared to cause a little controversy,&rdquo; Joe Ward said. &ldquo;Everything was black and white with him, and that&rsquo;s one thing I really respected about him. He didn&rsquo;t let the public change his mind. He stuck to the Catholic teachings, and that&rsquo;s awesome.&rdquo;</p><p>That strict sense of Catholic teachings, that sense of black-and-white, didn&rsquo;t describe George as a person, said longtime family friend Jack Norton of Westchester. Norton described George as kind, understanding, generous and supportive, while being firm in his faith.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&#39;t think we realize yet what a loss it was and how much he has done in the last 17 years for us,&rdquo; Norton said.</p><p>Cardinal George was buried in his family&#39;s plot at All Saints Cemetery in nearby Des Plaines Thursday afternoon.</p><p><br /> </p></p> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/catholics-say-final-farewell-chicagos-cardinal-george-111930 Portage Park church mourns 'favorite son' Cardinal George http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/portage-park-church-mourns-favorite-son-cardinal-george-111906 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cardinal francis george as altar boy_picmonkeyed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Parishioners at Cardinal Francis George&rsquo;s boyhood church are mourning the late Roman Catholic leader.</p><p>George grew up in the Portage Park neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side at St. Pascal Church. He went to Catholic school here and was ordained here. He&rsquo;s described on the church website as their &ldquo;Favorite Son.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/remembering-chicagos-cardinal-francis-george-111900" target="_blank">George died Friday</a> after a long fight with cancer.</p><p>Photos lining the back of St. Pascal&rsquo;s show George at every stage of his life: as a baby, an altar boy, graduating from school here, and years later, greeting the Pope.</p><p>Parishioners gathered around the photos and shared memories before mass started Sunday.</p><p>&ldquo;No matter where he came to visit, he came back with a smile and hope,&rdquo; Danny Klbecka, a longtime parishioner recalled. &ldquo;He was a great man, and we&rsquo;re sorry he&rsquo;s gone. We&rsquo;re going to miss him, we&rsquo;ll all miss him.&rdquo;</p><p>The cardinal often returned to visit the church and to see childhood friends.</p><p>&ldquo;He was our great success story,&rdquo; said St. Pascal&rsquo;s Pastor Paul Seaman. &ldquo;He was symbolic of what St. Pascal and the Catholic church is all about. He was a man of faith, he was a man of service, he cared about people, and he was very genuine in the life he lived.&rdquo;</p><p>The pastor and parishioners alike described George as a kind man who was devout in his faith, and they offered insight into the longtime spiritual leader.</p><p>In his sermon, Father Seaman said George talked about his bouts with cancer. At one point, the cardinal felt he was sure he was dying. He said he felt cold inside and out. But a nurse held his hand and told him to fight.</p><p>George said he learned the only thing we take into eternity is our relationships. And although his most important relationship was with God, Seaman said, during a meeting with priests the cardinal said he regretted not becoming friends with more of them. He always wanted to be fair and didn&rsquo;t want anyone to feel they were &ldquo;in&rdquo; or &ldquo;out,&rdquo; Seaman said, adding that such an attempt at fairness came at a high personal cost.</p><p>The cardinal had a strict interpretation of church teachings and was often described as rigid or rule-driven by some.</p><p>Rev. Seaman said George believed that if we learned merely from our experience, our range of knowledge would be too narrow. He saw the history and teachings of the church as a broader and wiser teacher.</p><p>Seaman said the point wasn&rsquo;t the rules, but a relationship with God. Without that relationship, the cardinal said, religion was just a set of burdensome rules.</p><p>St. Pascal isn&rsquo;t the only parish remembering the cardinal. Churches across the region said prayers for him over the weekend, and tributes came pouring in from religious and political leaders.</p><p>Muslim and Jewish leaders here offered sympathy. Leaders of the Muslim Community Center said George made arrangements for Muslims to pray within Chicago churches, denounced injustice and collaborated on public policy issues.</p><p>&ldquo;The Muslim Community Center along with the world will miss this truly committed person of interfaith understanding,&rdquo; leaders said in a statement.</p><p>&ldquo;Leaders of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago join with the entire Jewish community in remembering with joy, respect and gratitude the faithful friendship of Cardinal George,&rdquo; a statement said, adding George &ldquo;continued the path of his predecessors, Cardinal Cody and Cardinal Bernardin, in building a relationship built on foundations of mutual respect.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Pope Francis sent this telegram from the Vatican:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;To the Most Reverend Blase Cupich<br />Archbishop of Chicago</p><p><br />Saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. With gratitude for Cardinal George&rsquo;s witness of consecrated life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, his service to the Church&rsquo;s educational apostolate and his years of episcopal ministry in the Churches of Yakima, Portland and Chicago, I join you in commending the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn the late Cardinal in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Details: <a href="http://www.archchicago.org/passing-of-francis-cardinal-george/schedule" target="_blank">Funeral services</a> for Cardinal George.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes covers religion for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/lynettekalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/portage-park-church-mourns-favorite-son-cardinal-george-111906