Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, July 13

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What the Solidarity Hijab Means

Wheaton College students planned to wear hijabs on their flights home for the holidays in solidarity with Muslims and in support of suspended professor Larycia Hawkins (previously). Meanwhile, TouchVision's Mariam Sobh explains why Hawkins' decision to wear the hijab means so much.

Christian Professor Suspended for Hijab

Wheaton College political science professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended for wearing a hijab during Advent "in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book."

This morning, I partook of the Eucharist, the culmination of the Christian liturgy where Christians through the...

Posted by Larycia Alaine Hawkins on Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spraycans Raised to Heaven

Chicago Reporter profiles Milton Coronado, founder of Street Art Ministry, which uses graffiti to deliver a message of peace and spirituality to kids tempted by gang life.

I Don't Practice Santeria... OK, Maybe I Do.

Firefighters responding to a fire in a Chicago Lawn botanica discovered charred bones, prompting a call to the morgue; they were determined to be chicken bones.

Gapers Block's documentary series The Grid visited botanicas in 2013.

RIP Cardinal Francis George

Chicago native Cardinal Francis George died after a long battle with cancer.

West Ridge Hate Crimes

Anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on synagogues and garages in the Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park Sunday night. Police are investigating.

Knock Three Times

Last night, Archbishop Blase Cupich began the three-day process of succeeding Cardinal George as head of the Chicago Archdiocese with a knock on the door at Holy Name Cathedral.

Sins of the Fathers

The Chicago Archdiocese released thousands of files relating to cases of 36 priests accused of sexual abuse of minors, along with analysis of the data [PDF] connected to the cases.

Robbed for Rauner?

Burglars stole about $8,000 from the church of Pastor Corey Brooks, best known as the "rooftop pastor" for his time on the roof trying to close a problem motel. Brooks claims it's because he endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor.

"Chicago has always been a target."

New warnings of terrorism threats mostly get tuned out, but there's been growing evidence that ISIS may be recruiting in Chicago.

New Archbishop Announced

In case you missed it in the news Friday or at church on Sunday, Pope Francis named Bishop Blase Cupich, the current bishop of Spokane, WA, to be the next archbishop of Chicago, succeeding the ailing Cardinal George.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Spreads to Chicago

Thousands of protestors marched in front of the Israeli consulate Sunday in protest of the invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli military forces. Meanwhile, someone put threatening anti-Jewish flyers on cars in the Pulaski Park neighborhood.

No Logo

Sufi Muslims protested on Michigan Avenue Sunday night against a logo used by perfumer Roberto Cavalli that they believe is based on a Sufi icon for Allah.

The Devil Wants You!

"Thee Satanist Church" once practiced in Lawndale, as well as spots in Oak Park and elsewhere, in the early 1970s. It was run by Terry Taylor, an occult bookstore owner who acted as high priest -- but who didn't believe in the devil.

Blasphemy vs. Anti-Authoritarianism

Sun-Times political reporter Dan Mihalopoulos wrote about a column about how Pussy Riot members' upcoming performance at RiotFest is an affront to Chicago's Orthodox Christians. Whet Moser argues that he might be missing the point behind the band's actions. (In Russia, reaction to their guerrilla performance in Christ the Savior Cathedral was mixed.)

Life without a Hijab

A Chicago woman whose hijab was completely covered by her winter hat and scarf found her reception by both Muslims and non-Muslims changed drastically -- for the better and worse. [via]

Archdiocese Releases Abuse Documents

The Chicago Archdiocese released decades of files related to priest sexual abuse cases today, and took the opportunity to highlight the Protect & Heal project from its Office for the Protection of Children and Youth. The Tribune and Sun-Times have already begun reporting off the documents.

Separate, Not Always Equal

NPR's "All Things Considered" reported on the often drastic difference between prayer spaces for men and women in mosques in America, inspired in part by the photo project Side Entrance by Chicagoan Hind Makki.

Building Peace Between Faiths

The Niagara Foundation, recently in the news in connection to charter schools and Speaker Madigan, is hosting the Chicago Interfaith Gathering, a three-day conference on inter-religious dialogue, peace-building and community support, Feb. 3, 4 and 6.

Remembering the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire

On Dec. 1, 1958, 92 students and nuns died in a tragic fire at Our Lady of the Angels School. On the 55th anniversary, the Sun-Times' Mitch Dudek spoke with some of the survivors. GB's Robyn Nisi wrote about the 50th anniversary in 2008.

Gazing into ...Something

New age spiritual healer Braco recently visited Evanston. Time Out's Jake Malooley and Laura Pearson paid their $8 to find out what all the staring is about.

Upward to God

The Christian Science Society of Dixon in western Illinois is getting a lot of attention this week after the Internet noticed the shape of its new church on Google Maps.

Gathering Light Center for Spiritual Seeking- penis church

The church is showing it has a sense of humor in light of the attention: its Facebook profile cover photo now features a "giant fig leaf" over the Google Maps image.

gathering light - figleaf

Unite Together Among Ourselves

In March of 1963, Malcolm X was interviewed on WMAQ-TV's "City Desk" program about the "Black Muslim movement." [via]

Still the Cardinal

A year after submitting his (mandatory at age 75) resignation, Cardinal Francis George is still working. The Wall Street Journal looks at reasons why.

White Flight Resister

As African-Americans moved into Chatham, Crerar Memorial Presbyterian Church's white congregants began to leave. Marie Moe stayed put.

The Internet is Essential

Chicago will be a test city for a new digital literacy campaign that brings cheap internet and computers into low-income neighborhoods. It's a partnership with non-profit Connect2Compete and Comcast.

Orthodox Bishop, Unorthodox Conduct

Bishop Matthias, head of the Midwest diocese for the Orthodox Church in America, will step down due to a sexual misconduct scandal.

God by the Highway

A Chicago Sojourn takes you inside St. John Cantius, Holy Trinity, St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Mary of the Angels, the four massive churches visible from the Kennedy Expressway.

Media-Savvy Nuns

Ever wonder about that Catholic bookstore on Michigan Avenue? It's run by the Daughters of St. Paul, an order whose mission is to spread the gospel via whatever technology is available, which nowadays means Twitter, blogs, Facebook and more.

Making the Vatican Vaguely More Progressive

Cardinal George is uncharacteristically publicly addressing sexual abuse and corruption while at the Vatican for the "general congregation."

Are You Active on the South Side?

The U of C's Cultural Policy Center and the Southside Arts & Humanities Network want to know what you do on the South Side. The survey touches on civic engagement through art, music, work, worship, and research, and should take about 10 minutes.

Catholic School Closures Announced

Chicago Public Schools aren't the only ones contracting. The Chicago Archdiocese announced it is elimintaing 75 jobs and closing or consolidating five schools.

A New NOI Land

Among Louis Farrakhan's pronouncements at the annual Saviours' Day event is that he wants the Nation of Islam to buy large amounts of land in the Midwest.

Muslim Chicago

Islam is alive and well -- and growing -- in Chicago, even as religious affiliation in general is on the decline in the US.

Building a "Legacy" in West Chatham

Hobby Lobby donated the former Soft Sheen beauty products factory site in West Chatham to the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on New Year's Eve. The 14.5-acre property will be redeveloped into a mixed use complex, including a megachurch as well as retail and restaurant spaces. Here's a recap of how the transaction occurred.

Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church produced this video detailing the plan.

Ethnically Segregated but Religiously Diverse

Trulia analyzed Association of Religion Data Archives data and found that Chicago is the fifth most religiously diverse metropolitan area and is tied with Detroit for the highest percentage of Muslims.

Obama Backs State Gay Marriage Bill

President Obama threw his support behind the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act," aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois. The bill, which was introduced by Chicago's state Sen. Heather Stearns and Rep. Greg Harris, could be voted on as soon as next week.

Red, Green & Black Candles

Time Out asks, does anybody celebrate Kwanzaa anymore?

The Struggle on the Bus

A new set of CTA bus ads by Council on American-Islamic Relationsaims to promote a more positive interpretation of "jihad," the Arabic word that means "struggling in the way of God," not just holy war.(Previously.)

After We Die

Is the afterlife a pale shadow of life or one of complete fulfillment? Depends on who you ask, UofC researchers found.

Sculpture to a "Cult Leader" in Lincoln Park?

The Peace Garden in Lincoln Park, at the Buena Avenue underpass, contains an unexpected sculpture dedicated to Daisaku Ikeda, leader of the controversial Japanese religious group Soka Gakkai.

Hanukkah Events

Chicago Quirk has put together a Hanukkah 2012 celebration guide complete with Jewish history, musicals and Star of David cupcakes.

Proposed Mosque Draws Controversy on Muslim Holiday

On the first day of Eid al-Adha comes the news of controversy surrounding a proposed mosque at the site of the old Eisenhower Library building in the Harwood Heights neighborhood.

Is Racism a Sin?

That's the question posed to four progressive Christian leaders by Rev. Joan R. Harrell on

The Pastor's Walk

The "rooftop pastor" Corey Brooks is back from his walk across the country to raise money for Project Hood. He only raised $500,000 of his hoped-for $15 million, but says he's not giving up on that goal.

"It's a way of saying, 'We're human'"

The suburban conservative synagogue Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah's unconventional advertising campaign is written up in the NY Times Media & Advertising section.

Passover that Exam

Gov. Quinn chose the end of Ramadan to sign into law a bill that gives college students the ability to reschedule tests or assignments when they conflict with a religious holiday.

Muslim Graves Graffitied

Several Muslim gravestones in an Evergreen Park cemetery were desecrated with anti-Muslim graffiti this week, the latest in an up-swelling of hate crimes in recent weeks.

Politics & Preservation in Palmer Square

In Mechanics, Jason Prechtel gives an in-depth overview of the battle between parishioners, preservationists and Alderman Colón over the future of St. Sylvester's rectory on Palmer Square. Meanwhile, Ben Joravsky reports in the Reader on another political preservation fight.

Corey Brooks Makes a Pit Stop

Pastor Corey Brooks has been walking across the country (previously) to raise money to build a community center on the site of the seedy motel he helped get demolished. He stopped here at home this weekend, halfway through his journey.

Southern Whites on the North Side

Newcity's David Witter provides a contemporary treatment of Uptown's Appalachian influences and history. For further reading, view Whet Moser's January post about the history of Appalachian migration to Chicago.

Follow Pastor Brooks from Home

You can follow rooftop Pastor Corey Brooks' new cross-country walk "to end violence" on the project's website, as well as in more immediate words and photographs.

Catholic Schools Avoid Steppenwolf Play With Gay Bullying Themes

Catholic schools that ordinarily patronize the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series are steering clear of FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life, an original piece by Sarah Gubbins that touches on issues of bullying gay students. Sex columnist Dan Savage of the It Gets Better Project is making a special appearance this Friday in a post-show discussion with his brother, Bill Savage. The play runs through March 18, with matinee performances available for school groups, and public performances Saturdays and Sundays.

The Cardinal Apologizes

Cardinal George finally apologized on Friday for his comparison of the gay pride parade to the KKK (previously: 1, 2). The planned LGBTQ protest Sunday was canceled, but some still marched.

Here's Cardinal George's apology statement, for posterity:

Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
January 6, 2012

During a recent TV interview, speaking about this year's Gay Pride Parade, I used an analogy that is inflammatory.

I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan. I do not believe that; it is obviously not true. Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I. We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.

I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church's liberty. This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Cardinal George: Stand Ground, Step Down or Retire?

Cardinal George issued a statement clarifying his comparison of the Chicago Gay Pride Parade and the Ku Klux Klan, but stopped short of apologizing. The LGBT community continues to call for his resignation -- meanwhile he's expected by the Vatican to offer to retire on his 75th birthday Jan. 16.

For posterity, here is Cardinal George's statement:

Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
December 27, 2011

The Chicago Gay Pride Parade has been organized and attended for many years without interfering with the worship of God in a Catholic church. When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. When the pastor's request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940's, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.

It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm. These tragedies can be addressed, however, without disturbing the organized and orderly public worship of God in a country that claims to be free. I am grateful that all parties concerned resolved this problem by moving the Parade's start time so as not to conflict with the celebration of Mass that Sunday.

Cardinal George: Pride Parade Leads to KKK

Cardinal George ignited a firestorm by saying in an interview on Fox News Chicago, "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism."

Occupying the Super Motel

Rev. Corey Brooks has been living in a tent on top of an abandoned motel across from his church for the past 12 days. Last night, Occupy Chicago protestors joined him.

Last Rites of a Church

The historic Episcopal Church of the Epiphany awaits its fate after serving its last mass this past weekend.

Inner Peace and Warm Heartedness with the Dalai Lama

If you wanted to see the Dalai Lama's interfaith talks in July but missed them, you may want to watch one main event or this clip on YouTube.

LOLing in the Pews

GB contributor Dan Kelly has a new book out: Hilaretic collects his church reviews from the Chicago Journal and elsewhere.

Rape Survivor Forces Catholic Leaders to Apologize

Cardinal Francis George and the Catholic Conference of Illinois are doing some pretty fast backtracking after learning the actual facts of an event they protested without knowing the event's details.

"Nerdy Lord Ganesha" is not OK

During Diwali, Threadless received criticism from an Indo-American Hindu for design submissions depicting the Hindu god Ganesha in possibly disrespectful ways.

Unitarian Universalists Get a New Home

The Meadville Lombard Theological School made a big move from rural Pennsylvania to Hyde Park in 1926, where it has been located ever since. That's going to change by the end of the year, when it's moving to the Spertus Institute building at 610 S. Michigan Ave.

In Honor of the Holiday

In celebration of the Jewish New Year,Rosh Hashanah, Chicago offers several places to find your kosher needs from food to wine.

Check Your Deed

The deeds to at least 30 homes in Chicagoland have been mysteriously transferred to the Moorish Science Temple of America, an obscure religious sect -- including the home of City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.

Breaking the Fast

The Lupe Fiasco Foundation is working with the Block By Block initiative to feed at least 100 people each day Aug. 15-31 in honor of Ramadan.

The Skyscraper Church

Speaking of churches, ever wondered about that church on top of a skyscraper in the Loop? It's Chicago Temple, and there are free tours on the weekends -- or your could go on Chicago Detours' version and get an experience that ends with Champagne on the pastor's balcony.

Old St. Pat's Expands

Old Saint Patrick's Church is adding an elevator and a cloister -- the first-ever additions to the 155-year-old church.

And Yet It Moves

A few people in Chicago and elsewhere are taking literal interpretation of the Bible to new extremes: believing the universe revolves around the earth -- a belief the Vatican and even a lot of creationists don't support.

Clergy Flout Church Position on Same Sex Marriage

Local Methodist pastors have joined more than 200 other Illinois Methodist clergy in a proclamation that they will perform marriages for same-sex partners in defiance of church rules.

Notre Dame, Not Our Women

Roxanne Martino was forced to resign from the Notre Dame University board of trustees over donations to Emily's List and the Chicago Foundation for Women.

New School Religion in Lakeview

The Chicago News Cooperative examines the connection between the soon-to-open American Islamist College and controversial religious leader Fethulla Gülen.

Holy Turtle

The Rapture may not have happened on Saturday, but Chicagoland's rich tradition of finding the Virgin Mary where you'd least expect her carried on.

Mysterious Ways

There's a whole lot to read on, whose author grew up in Chicago and writes about the city frequently. (Sensitive readers be warned.)

A Third Miracle for Pope John Paul II?

A Chicago woman credits late Pope John Paul II for restoring sight in one of her son's eyes. If the event is deemed a miracle, it could be the event that justifies his sainthood.

We've Got That Going for Us, Which is Nice

The Dalai Lama is coming to Chicago July 17 and 18.

Father Pfleger Suspended

Father Michael Pfleger, activist and longtime pastor of St. Sabina Parish, was suspended from his duties by Cardinal Francis George yesterday, following Pfleger's threat that he would quit the Catholic Church if he was forced to take a new position. Read the Cardinal's letter [PDF]. Pfleger's supporters are rallying outside of Cardinal George's residence this morning at 10:30am.

Like Us not into Temptation

St. John Cantius has a website and even an online store, but in this week's church bulletin church elders warned parishioners to stay away from that den of temptation, Facebook. (Seems OK for the Pope...)

Oh, and then There's That

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan spent two hours on Thursday discussing Gaddafi and his support of the NOI, but the best part of the Trib summary is the last sentence: "Farrakhan says originally he wasn't going to talk about Libya and had scheduled the news conference to warn America a huge earthquake is coming."

Regrets, I've had a Few

A study by two professors at Northwestern and U of I found that romantic regrets were the most common among typical Americans.

Scientology Protest Tomorrow

You may (or may not) want to steer clear of Michigan and Wacker around noon this Saturday: Anonymous activist organization Anonymous is planning a protest against Scientology, marking L. Ron Hubbard's birthday.

Heaven for Non-Christians?

Theology professor Scot McKnight of North Park University (and his blog) is featured in a NY Times piece about the uproar generated by an evangelical pastor suggesting that non-Christians like Gandhi may not eternally burn in hell.

Saviours' Day Roundup

The Nation of Islam's annual Saviours' Day event in Rosemont was quite the looker this year, with talks about the role of UFOs in Islam and Minister Louis Farrakhan's prouncements that Middle Eastern style protests are coming to the US and that he and Gadhafi are still pals.

Chicago's Next Saint

The Archdiocese of Chicago has begun the next phase of canonization for Father Augustus Tolton, the first black Catholic priest.

Seeking Peace in the Suburbs

In A/C, Ted McClelland explores Vivekananda Vedanta Society, a suburban Hindu mission with roots in Chicago's Columbian Exposition.

Fighting the Devil

The thing about demonic possession is, there's usually a "natural, organic explanation," says Chicago's official exorcist.

'Tis the Season for Giving

Hanukkah starts Dec. 1, and Jewish Chicago's Dasee Berkowitz has some thoughts on how to make it less about consumerism.

Old Saint Pat's

Take a tour of St. Patrick's Church with Designslinger: part one, part two.

You Mean it's Friday

An anonymous employee shares a glimpse in Esquire of what it was like at an area synagogue after the terrorist bomb plot came to light.

LGBT Jewish Group Targeted by Terrorists

One of the bombs discovered on two cargo planes last week was addressed to Congregation Or Chadash, an LGBT Jewish congregation on the North Side. It surprised them to be the target of terrorism, but they vowed not to be cowed by it.

Dodge These Balls

Jockey (provider of utilitarian and utterly acceptable undies) want you to help them. The company is looking for the man (or woman) with the right stuff to help and set a new world record. Which world record? Duh! The world record for biggest dodgeball game played in your skivvies. (Really? You had to ask?) They need 1,200+ to accomplish that feat, and, yes, in fact, they are looking for gents and ladies to partake. So strip down and dodge those balls. And by the way, for every registrant $5.00 will be donated to kicking prostate cancer in the -wait for it- balls. Participants get a free pair of undies and a tee.

DIY Calaveras de Azucar

The Mondragon family has been demonstrating how to make sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead at the National Museum of Mexican Art every year since 1995.

Underpass Mary's Still There

Five years after "Our Lady of the Underpass," aka "Underpass Mary," persists -- or at least her shrine and her followers do.

111 Feet of Lawsuit

A Chicago-area atheist is suing the state government and others over a $20,000 grant the state provided to the custodians of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace, a.k.a. the massive downstate cross.

Notes from the Anti-Gay Conference

In Mechanics, Timna Axel reports on her undercover visit to the recent Americans for Truth Academy conference.

Sun-Worshipers in Chicago

Ever heard of Mazdaznan? Neither had I, but it's a spiritual movement with roots in turn-of-last-century Chicago. Here's a cookbook first published by the sect in 1901.

Muslim Youth in Action

Tomorrow is Illinois Muslim Action Day, and local Muslim youth are heading to Springfield in hopes of getting the attention of state politicians.

A Saint in Chicago?

Fr. Augustine Tolton (previously mentioned on GB here) was America's first African-American Roman Catholic priest, and if Cardinal George's efforts pan out, he may become our second resident saint (I believe Mother Cabrini was the first). [via]

Go to Church, Go to Jail

A Chicago man may go to jail because he allegedly took his 3-year-old daughter to church, in violation of a court order -- he's Catholic, his estranged wife is Jewish.

Uniting the City Through Film

One Chicago, One Nation is a new initiative aiming to "unite people of all cultures, faiths and social backgrounds to build communities for the common good" through digital storytelling, community conversations and more. To start, it's holding an online film contest worth $50,000.

One Day Only: Quimby's Becomes Svymby's

Hey, Chicago hipster old-timers (and young-timers): Steven Svymbersky, founder of Quimby's, is visiting from Amsterdam and hanging out at the store (1854 W. North Ave.) today from 1 to 5 p.m. He'd love to see all his old friends, so stop by!

Chicago Religious Leader Passes Away

Chicago-based Archbishop Job of the Orthodox Church of America passed away on Friday. Get Religion paid tribute to him, along with a litany of other sources referenced in their post.

Bowing for Buddha

The Dalai Lama's favorite musician is cellist and Northwestern grad Michael Fitzgerald. Esther Cepeda interviews him about opening for His Holiness.

Faith and Good Work

The Trib reports that his work as the founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core has netted Eboo Patel the $200,000 Grawemeyer Award.

Meet Your New Neighbors

The Church of Scientology has announced plans to move their Illinois headquarters to Printer's Row in 2010.

This is Taqwacore

The Sun-Times profiles the local Muslim punk scene.

Contemplative Pumpkin

Billy Corgan has launched a new website, Everything from Here to There, which is intended to be a place "to discuss openly and without fear concepts of Mind-Body-Soul integration." If that's the sort of thing you're into, he's apparently taking submissions. [via]

Ramadan Mubarak!

FYI, Ramadan (or perhaps Ramzan) started on Saturday. Learn more about the holiday and related events around the city at

Westboro Baptist Protests Edgewater Synagogue

The Westboro Baptist folks protested at Emanuel Congregation in Edgewater this morning; the Edgewater Community Religious Association held a counter-demonstration. Leah Jones took photos. UPDATE: Some video here.

Articles of Faith

The Morning News showcases photos of storefront churches in Chicago by photographer Dave Jordano.

"Roadmap to Beace"

Comedian and radio personality Ray Hanania notes how language complicates Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Elie Wiesel to Speak at Illinois Holocaust Museum

A public grand opening ceremony Sunday for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie will feature Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, in addition to former President Bill Clinton and a host of local and international dignitaries. Thousands of guests are expected, so plan ahead for transit, and get more details in Slowdown.

Nizzle of Izzle

Snoop Dogg announced that he's joined the Nation of Islam after appearing at Saviours' Day celebrations here in Chicago this weekend.

What's the Outrage?

He didn't get arrested for anything, and no one knows what he actually did, but Reverend Steve Wu has left his post at the Willow Creek megachurch, admitting "sexual impurities."

Holy Name Up in Flames

Fire broke out this morning in the attic of Holy Name Cathedral.

Go Ahead Make Some Noise

A federal judge has ruled that the Illinois state law that requires a moment of silence in public schools is unconstitutional as it "forces students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion."

One Way to Upset the EEOC

Dentist James L. Orrington may like you to work for him if you will submit to Scientology, among other problematic practices.

Synagogue Vandalism Spree

Over the weekend, two synagogues and one Jewish school suffered broken windows and anti-Israel messages.

The Gift of a Humerus Bone

Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii has received a relic from the body of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini Green, partial namesake of Cabrini-Green and the first canonized US resident.

High Holidays Dot Com

The Jewish holiday Yom Kippur begins today; why not celebrate it online with "Oprah's Rabbi"?

Reappropriating a Symbol of Racial Hatred

The First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple has installed a crucifix made from a cast of a cross burned at a 1963 KKK rally.

Creatively Unclear

Apparently Roger Ebert's creationism post was written by him, not a hacker -- but his intention in posting it remains unclear in his responses to comments regarding it. Perhaps Ebert is learning that satire doesn't translate online without context. UPDATE: Ebert finally did explain the article, and affirmed that it was satire.

Hindu Universal Temple Open 115 Years Later

The Vivekananda Vedanta Society has realized its dream of opening its universal temple in Homer Glen.

My Cousin, The Rabbi

The already-diverse Barack Obama family just keeps getting more diverse. Meet Michelle's rabbi cousin.

Just call me 'Pfleger Pfleg''s quiz finally solves the age-old question: "Which inflammatory pastor are you?"

Don't Put Religion on Your Door

That's the word from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case in which the condo association at Shoreline Towers repeatedly removed a mezuzah from the door of a resident. The association has since changed its practice, but the case is causing a stir in Jewish communities here and nationwide.

Pfleger Gets A Second Chance

A little more than a week after being removed as head of the St. Sabina parish, Fr. Michael Pfleger is heading back to the church on June 16 - with the caveat that he keep his political viewpoints out of the pulpit.

Wright Not So Retired

It's obvious Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. doesn't plan to spend his retirement in quiet rest -- but apparently he also doesn't want to give up the pulpit at Trinity United just yet, either.

Underpass Mary All Over Again?

Some say bugs chewed the name of Muhammad on a piece of bark in Skokie.

More Political and Religious Controversy

Speaking of Obama, the Chicago priest who vigorously endorsed Obama and mocked Hillary has been asked to take a leave of absence by Cardinal George.

Chicago, Welcome Saint Death

The Roman Catholic church may not recognize Santa Muerte, but her presence is growing in Chicago.

Happy Birthday, Buddha!

If you've driven past Wilson and Ashland lately, you've probably seen this impressive display in front of the Truc Lam Buddhist Temple. It's part of the temple's annual celebration of the birth of Buddha -- this year's celebration is this weekend, with an outdoor concert scheduled for Saturday at 8pm and an indoor ceremony Sunday at 10am. Call 773-506-0749 for more info.

Moving Bodies to Move Bodies

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal involving O'Hare and the St. John's United Church cemetery, knocking aside another barrier to the airport's expansion plans.

A Different Kind of Blood

Six members of Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War protested the Iraq war during the Holy Name Cathedral's Easter Mass today.

Breaking the Mold

The New York Times profiles Capers C. Funnye, Jr., the first African-American member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and head of the Southwest Side's Beth Shalom B'Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation.

Sanctuary, Again

Flor Crisostomo, a Latin American immigrant arrested in 2006 on immigration charges, may flout her deportation orders and seek refuge in Adalberto United Methodist Church, the same church where Elvira Arellano sought refuge.

Eight Days Recycled

Chicago students are building menorahs from recycled materials, inspired by the idea that just-enough-oil-to-last-eight-days is a green sentiment.

Spertus Almost Ready

The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies' new building will be open to the public starting on November 30 with a series of events and a new range of amenities.

Lutheran Lesbian Ordained Sans Celibacy

Jen Rude, a lesbian who refuses to take a vow of celibacy, has been ordained by a Lutheran church in Chicago. It comes about as a test of a new resolution that gives bishops room to discipline or not, such actions. Wayne Miller, Chicago's bishop, said, "My goal is to keep people in the conversation, and I do not see this as an issue that should be dividing the church."

It's Official

Cardinal Francis George won 85 percent of the votes to become the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Enjoy Family Life"

Has anyone else out there received a handwritten proselytizing letter like this?

Closer to a Chicago Anglican Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago has included the Very Rev. Tracey Lind as a top five nominee for the 12th Bishop of Chicago. Because Lind is a lesbian, her nomination once again sets up the potential for conflict with the more conservative Anglican Communion.

The Old Latin Mass Is The New Thing

If you're still firming up your weekend plans and are looking for a hip Latin Mass (Tridentine) to balance things out, the Archdiocese of Chicago says you should look at: St. John Cantius (825 N. Carpenter) and St. Thomas More (2825 W. 81st).

What Precisely Is a Homo-sex?

Ruben Israel is a very vocal fellow, currently demanding the right to march, proclaim anti-gay rhetoric, and carry his apparently bottomless supply of tastefully designed signs in the Annual Pride Parade—something he's done streetside for years. Naturally, in being denied the ability to heap judgment and preach hellfire against folks all along the parade route, he feels he's being discriminated against.

Koran Shenanigans

A local woman is publishing a new English translation of the Koran, which, surprisingly, has caused absolutely no controversy in the Muslim community. And if you believe that... Additional note: It seems the Russians think the Olsen twins are somehow involved.

Church and City

Opinions flared over the holidays last year when city officials opposed the showing of a movie trailer for The Nativity Story at Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Those same emotions will likely again be stirred after installation of a 19 foot cross was green-lighted for Easter.

Learn to Talk to Buddhists

Ever feel like the cat's got your tongue whenever Buddhists (with their "ancient, complex, trendy" religion) are around? Apparently you're not alone! Evangelical Christians are organizing workshops on how to "talk" to Buddhists in conjunction with the Dalai Lama's US Tour. The nearest workshop looks to be in Wheaton. The Dalai Lama will be in Chicago on May 6th, check slowdown for details. [Note: The Sun-Times wants you to know that while in Chicago the Dalai Lama will be staying in a hotel suite with 3 bathrooms]

Getting You Ready for the Big Weekend

Still haven't figured out what to do for Passover or Easter? Christine Blumer has you covered with this week's Drive-Thru feature.

Money for Something

Congratulations to Charles Taylor, NU Philosophy Prof, for bagging the world's biggest monetary prize awarded for research into spirituality; and it's a big'un. The Tribune has the story.

Dalai Lama-Rama

The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, The Dalai Lama, will be in Chicago on May 6th. Tickets are still available for his afternoon address on "Finding Inner Peace in a World of Turmoil" at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Auditorium.

The Good News in Education!

Making no mention of what the bad news might be, South Side Congressman Daniel Lipinski's resolution praising "Catholic Schools for their ongoing contributions to education" passed unanimously. The resolution was planned to coincide with Catholic Schools Week (Jan 28-Feb 3). There are over 250 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Wright Before Obama

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright has been an influential Chicagoan long before being known as Senator Barack Obama's pastor.

From Slave to Priest

Interesting article on Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in America, who preached in Quincy and the South Side of Chicago in the late 1800s.

The Nativity News

Hey, remember how the City decided not to show the trailer for The Nativity Story at the Christkindlmarket back in November? Well, a church group apparently decided it was important to take a stand, so it's now showing on a continuous loop at the fair, although with the sound off. And 32 Baby Jesuses, stolen from nativity scenes around the city, turned up in a St. Symphorosa Church parishoner's yard, sorted by design.

Call for Nominations: 35 Under 35

The Community Renewal Society is requesting nominations for their 35 Under 35 Leadership Awards. This Chicagoland-oriented award recognizes individuals under the age of 35 who are "using fresh approaches to tackle pressing social issues."

Window to Chicago Muslims

Did you know there are over 350,000 Muslims in the Chicago area? Yeah, that's a lot. So you have to know that a site like is a pretty valuable resource for area Muslims and friends of the Islamic Faith. Daily prayer times, socio-economic outreach projects, and articles on Islam are all there. Be sure to keep an eye on the events section for the "Window to Islam" class--open to all--if you want to learn more about the Islamic Faith.

"Prayer Seiges" Based in Chicago

There's a group in Chicago called Bound 4 Life. No, it's not a band — well, not that kind of band. This group of young adults aims to demonstrate, through "Prayer Seiges," their opposition to abortion. At first I was just really excited to see what a "Prayer Seige" was, but after reading some history of the group I had these flashbacks of driving down Ridge with all these graphic anti-abortion posters surrounding me and... well, you can read about Bound 4 Life right here.

You Need a Transition

Transitions Bookplace -- a locally-owned store specializing in spiritual, growth, and grief lit -- is in danger of closing their doors after this month without more patronage. Take a break from online and chain retailers and check them out. They are located at 1000 W. North Ave.

Islamic Studies Near You

I was looking for Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad) events in Chicago for this week (which, apparently, there are none) when I came across the website for the American Islamic College (640 W. Irving Park). While the website is a bit 1998, the actual university looks pretty cool--they offer weekend and evening Arabic courses. Or, of course, if you're interested in getting a 4-year degree from an Islamic perspective, this might be for you.

She's Still There

Speaking of our roadways, Eric Zorn checked in on Underpass Mary one year after the miraculous mineral stain appeared on Fullerton Avenue, and found she's mostly still intact and still receiving flowers.

Religion for prisoners & families

Prison Fellowship Ministries has a focus on "fellowshipping with Jesus, visiting prisoners, and welcoming the children of prisoners." Their site is rather extensive and includes campus ministries (which look rather awesome), a pen pal program, and an angel tree. Pretty cool stuff.

Virtually Jewish

Send a Virtual Jewish Chicago postcard. Photos all courtesy of Chicago Jewish News.

Selling One's Soul for Good

In yesterday's WSJ, the story of an atheist who sold his soul on eBay and ended up critiquing local church services.

St. Patty's Lenten Option

There's an optional memorial for St. Patrick on March 17. If you're fasting for Lent, Chicago Cardinal Francis George gave a general dispensation reminding Catholics that they can choose not to abstain from meat on that special Friday. That means that if you're already fasting for Lent and you choose this option, you will need to choose another form of penance for that day.

Happy (almost) Ayyam'i'Ha!

Baha'is of the world start their 19-day fast on March 2. Before that, though, they party for about four days as heartily as non-drinking folks can in a holiday called Ayyam-i-Ha. Come celebrate it with them at the stunning Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette. More in Slowdown. (Info on regular activities here).

Anti-Semitic Vandalism Countered With Spiritual Gathering

One week ago, the Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation synagogue (5029 N. Kenmore in Uptown) was defaced with anti-semitic graffiti. Today, Sunday, to counter this act of violence, they are holding an anti-hate rally at the site -- religious leaders from all religions from all over the city will be in attendance as well as members of the Interfaith Youth Core. The graffitti, also, will be painted over at this event. See slowdown for more details.

"A Whole Bunch of Presbyterians and Lutherans proudly present 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!'"

All donations will benefit The Night Ministry, which provides food and medical services to the homeless in Lakeview and Uptown. Click "more" for showtimes...

Showtimes: Friday, Feb 10, 7 pm: St Gertrude's, 1420 W Granville, Chicago; Saturday, Feb 11, 7 pm: Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave, Evanston; Sunday, Feb 12, 3 pm: Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1500 W Elmdale, Chicago; Sunday, Feb 12, 7 pm: Trinity Lutheran Church, 3637 Golf Road, Evanston

Welcome Back, Hajis!

You may be one of the 2 million Muslims to recently come back from hajj (annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia)--welcome back, and hajj mubarak! (Want to know more about hajj? Wikipedia can help out, so can this article in the Sun-Times.)



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