The Simple Gift of Prayer

I was passing South Wacker street earlier this week, when someone threw me a lifeline. I had just come from a difficult meeting. I was in that stupor you feel when you have done the best you can, for as long as you can, and it just hasn’t matched the need of the moment. I... Read more »

Sukkot in Chicago: The House Behind the Daley Center

One of the things I love the most about Chicago is the uneasy peace treaty we have made between our public spaces and our religious expressions. Nowhere is this more clearly visible than on the concrete bazaar surrounding the Daley Center. There’s a new building, and it’s here for Sukkot. Several times a year, the... Read more »

The First Amendment is for Pastafarians, Too

After lunch on Sunday, my wife and I were walking home through Nichols Park. We were amused to see a priest in a soutane playing catch with some teenagers. A soutane is that long, dress-looking robe that is tailored on the top and has a skirt on the bottom. It is distinctive. So distinctive, in... Read more »
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The Ghost Dome

You get above the tree line in Hyde Park, and you begin to notice the domes. I spotted the first one when we moved into our apartment in 2013. I was looking out the windows, around a hundred feet up. I could see the green dome of the Museum of Science and Industry to the... Read more »

Hair of the God that Bit You

For most of our adult lives, my wife and I have been what she calls “professionally religious.” When we first got married, she worked for a number of years as a hospital chaplain. When we moved to Chicago, she spent another couple of years as an editor at a Catholic magazine. Me, I’m a little... Read more »

The Pakistani Ralph Macchio

Over this past weekend, I spent some time at Chicago Theological Seminary, for their Raging Issues of Today Conference (RIOTcon, for short). It brought together academics and activists from across a progressive spectrum of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. While I was there, I got the chance to meet Fawzia Mirza, a wiry woman with a... Read more »
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A Matter of Time

Back when I was a religion professor, I used to teach courses in American religious history with a focus on the Constitution. Because of that, I occasionally receive calls from journalists who want to get some perspective on religious liberty issues and the workings of the First Amendment. I was talking to a reporter the... Read more »

The Pedway Proclaimers

I’m sure you’ve seen them. If you spend any time walking in the Loop, you’ll have passed more than one pair of them – standing on a corner, or tucked under an awning. Two by two, they gather across the pathways of the city. Males and females, African American and caucasian, well-dressed and pleasantly expectant.... Read more »

700 Words on the Death of David Bowie

The shock rocker GG Allin used to promise that he would commit suicide on stage, in a supreme act of performance art. He never pulled that off, though. He died of a heroin overdose in a dive hotel. St. Mark’s Place, just like the Replacements sang it. The last night of his life, he played a... Read more »
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Two City Blocks: A Thesis Statement

A few weeks ago I was walking east on Jackson Street at about eight in the evening. Crossing over Franklin Street, I passed by two men outside a restaurant, kneeling on the ground. They were Muslims. They were praying. A Salaam alaikum. Namaste. Shalom. Welcome to Chicago. We have more seminaries here than any other... Read more »