Thursday, February 9, 2012

The latest Reader performing arts reviews and previews

Posted By on 02.09.12 at 02:45 PM

Shame is an overwhelming emotion. When it mixes with religion, it becomes an explosive force. Two plays this week go right ahead and light the fuse: Hesperia and Disgrace. In the former, a porn star joins an evangelical community, hoping to regain her innocence. In the latter, a corporate lawyer tries to run as far away from his Muslim upbringing as he can. Reader critic Zac Thompson recommends Hesperia, saying that playwright Randall Colburn paints his characters as, well, real characters, rather than chick tract stereotypes.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Watching in awe

Posted By on 01.25.12 at 09:03 AM

Terry Lakin, patriot and martyr
  • Terry Lakin, patriot and martyr
A Tina Hampton of Greenville, South Carolina, told the New York Times why in the end she voted for Newt Gingrich in her state’s primary. The reason was fidelity to values. “We’re a party that says ‘Where’s the birth certificate?,’” she said, “yet how can we have a candidate who says he might release his taxes? It should be a no-brainer.”

I would have suggested to Tina Hampton that a better question is whether the Republicans should be the party that says, where’s the birth certificate? But no one changes minds by questioning first principles, strange as those principles might seem to an outsider.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Breaking! Fox News "unearths" 1995 Reader article about Obama

Posted By on 01.23.12 at 01:57 PM

Over the weekend a Google alert alerted me to this headline: "UNEARTHED: Acid-Tongue Obama on Christian Right"

Fox sour-cherry-picked from a 1995 Reader story by Hank De Zutter, "What Makes Obama Run," to come up with this nugget: "Obama Once Accused Christian Right of Intolerance, Narrow-Mindedness"

Here's the quote cited: “The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have,” he told the Chicago Reader. “But it’s always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.”

Judging by the comments on the Fox site, the article proves Obama is anti-Christian, atheist, Muslim, socialist, and/or communist.

Read De Zutter's story yourself. You decide.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Partial confession is good for the soul

Posted By on 01.09.12 at 01:00 PM

  • Thomas Quine
Statement from Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago—Jan. 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.


Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. During that week, I swore at my brother three times and punched him twice. I am personally distressed that he took this negatively.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Emanuelism, my new best unbelievable faith

Posted By on 01.05.12 at 03:30 PM

I've been considering taking up religion for the New Year. I'm one of those recovering Catholics—I have fond memories of Saint Rita High School, especially the theology fables. Some years ago I wrote a Reader story on a debate in southern Illinois between a Baptist preacher and a member of American Atheists on whether God exists. I thought the infidel won, and I've been a heathen ever since.

But now I'm thinking of converting to Rahm Emanuelism. The perks sound great, at least the reincarnation bit.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

In the beginning, God created smug teenage boys

Posted By on 12.23.11 at 08:00 AM

  • Konstantin Goldenberg/Shutterstock
As it was for my brothers, my bar mitzvah portion was "Bereishit," or Genesis 1:1. You know, creation, Adam and Eve, snakes and apples. The whole deal. My parents had reserved this portion for all four of their children, which, at my synagogue, was tantamount to going to Wrigley Field and buying up all the seats on the first-base line for four seasons straight.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Testament in Rogers Park

Posted By on 12.22.11 at 08:07 AM

Last Friday night while running a few errands, I was surprised to find carolers standing in front of Morse "L" Liquors, a corner right by the el stop where you're far more likely to encounter panhandlers or crazy people. "Would you like some hot chocolate?" a young man asked, pointing to a large orange thermos. "No, thanks, I'm here for the bourbon," I said. I got my Maker's Mark, stayed for a rousing version of "Hark! the Herald," and continued with my rounds.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Testament Week: the Book of Jim & Artie

Posted By on 12.21.11 at 08:00 AM

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin (1852)
  • The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as not depicted by the Mitchell Brothers
I started reading the Bible seriously around the same time that I became aware of sex as something other than an abstract concept. The two experiences were surprisingly compatible, as I found plenty of grist for my burgeoning imagination in the Book of Genesis alone. And few verses proved more inexhaustible than these lines from Genesis, chapter 19. It comes from the denouement of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a passage I’d recommend to any adolescent unable to get his hands on the 1980s classic Taboo:

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Woman's Bible

Posted By on 12.20.11 at 08:00 AM

  • carthesian
“Listening to the varied opinions of women,” wrote Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the late 19th century, “I have long thought it would be interesting and profitable to get them clearly stated in book form.” Stanton proposed a book to augment the good book: The Woman’s Bible, which would append to the holy text feminist critiques authored by women’s rights activists. Their claim, an early expression of the sort of thinking that would later be called “liberation theology,” was that it was possible to read from the book an argument for the equality of women. Stanton wrote in the introduction:

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Testament Week: Salvation terminator

Posted By on 12.19.11 at 08:00 AM

As Hannukah arrives and Christmas and Kwanzaa approach, the prospect of doing "Gift Week" here on the Bleader has proved too revolting for common consent. So instead we're going to go all Linus Van Pelt this week and break up the party with our favorite religious texts. When people ask about my beliefs, I always say I'm religious but not spiritual. After all, an excess of feeling can be a real impediment to forcing one's views on others.

My text comes from the Book of Luke, chapter six, when Jesus comes down from praying all night in the hills to deliver his Sermon on the Plain. "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well."

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