thumbnail of Chicago Matters; Questions of Faith; The Heart of Religion
Hide -
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Hello, I'm Ron Magers. We set out in this documentary to try to understand the role religion plays in the life of our community, some we spoke with told us they were very religious. Others we talked to said they weren't religious at all, but many added we are spiritual. One cannot look at religion in a city like Chicago and not be confused by the diversity of rituals and traditions and beliefs, but it's our hope that this documentary will cut through all that to reveal a couple of simple and unifying truths that all human beings share the same sense of awe in the face of the miracle of life. And that all of our religions may be just different paths to the same place. In our world, this happens more than 430000 times every day. Imagine five new human lives begun every time your heart makes a beat. Nothing is more a part of life than birth. And yet, whenever and wherever it happens, it always strikes us as a miracle. So it is here in the pulse of wonder and awe, which all human beings feel in the presence of the miracle of life, that we begin to be moved toward the heart of religion.
<v Rev. Stanley Davis>Welcome to the National Conference's annual interfaith Thanksgiving observance. <v Unidentified prayer leader>[Muslim prayer sung out] <v Unidentified prayer leaders 2>[Buddhist prayer chanted]. <v Unidentified prayer leader 3>[Prayer chanted]. <v Unidentified prayer leader 4>[Religious song sung out]. <v Rev. Stanley Davis>Representatives from 12 religious traditions in metropolitan Chicago have come together with you to show how we as a community can make diversity, unite, not divide us. <v Unidentified prayer leader 5>[Religious song sung alongside guitar and harmonica]. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>This is us, this is who we are. This is what makes us Americans a people committed to the idea that despite our diversity, we can still work together to shape a destiny that will let us live together with all of our differences in harmony and peace.
<v Dirk Ficca>Today in Chicago, there are ninety thousand Hindus worshiping in 18 temples. There are more Thai Buddhists than Episcopalians. There are more Muslims than Jews, along with two point three million Roman Catholics, one point three million Protestants and 250000 Orthodox. We also have 20000 Native Americans representing 200 nations. Twenty five hundred Sikhs. Twenty five hundred Jains, two thousand Bahais. Five hundred Zoroastrians. The whole world lives in Chicago. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Religions have always played a role in defining Chicago, whether dotting its skyline like punctuation marks from the past or parading across the pages of its phone book as a profile of the present. Religion not only lies at the base of Chicago's diversity, but at its heart as well, providing the yardstick by which the city might well measure the evolution of its humanity. Ask what the word religion means and you hear the voice of diversity.
<v Commentator 1>Religion, to me is an organized form of spirituality. I think the spirituality part is more important than the religion. <v Commentator 2>I believe that there's a need to believe in a higher power. But one, two, three. I mean, that's up to you. <v Commentator 3>It means life. Pursuit of life and love. <v Commentator 4>Religion, to me, means the difference between going to heaven when I die and spending eternity up there and going to hell. <v Commentator 5>Looking to God do to save you from your sins, you know, to repent things of that nature and to reflect and to thank God for everything that's been given to you. That's basically it. <v Commentator 6>It should be a combination of sort of a code of ethics by which you lead your life with the promise of something beyond that, that, how can I say, is so intriguing to you and so compelling that you accept it on faith.
<v Commentator 7>I'm very distrustful of religion. <v Interviewer>Why is that? <v Commentator 7>Yeah, I just I just don't see where it plays a role in my life. I think it manipulates people personally. And a lot of people my age feel that way, I think. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Religion generates controversy for the simple reason that religion represents human needs, which are themselves in conflict, the needs, for instance, to be both an individual and a member of a community. Although there may be an endless number of paths an individual might follow to express personal feelings about the spiritual life, most of them revolve around one simple fact. The closer one looks at anything made by humans, the more imperfect it becomes. Move closely enough to a beautiful stained glass window, for instance, and you begin to see the bubbles and scratches left by the hand of man. But the closer one looks at anything made by nature, the more richly complex and perfect it becomes. Once again, as with birth, it is in the presence of these mysteries of life that individuals find themselves turning to religion, the path most human beings take to try to explain their feelings of gratitude and humility and awe. But it is not in our own personal individual relationship to God or the greater power or the mystery of life, that we experience the greatest conflict. That comes in the arena where religion influences our relationships with others. War is the ultimate breakdown of human relations. Bosnia represents the northernmost thrust Islam made into Christian Europe during the Ottoman Empire. And the war there today, as many others, has religious conflict at its heart.
<v Dirk Ficca>Of the hundred and thirty, so or so called wars or so-called conflicts around the world. About two thirds of them were being waged in the name of religion, and I believe there in every case. It's not religion as a way of practice because I don't believe any of those religious traditions would say wage war. No, it's religion as a source of identity. And then that gets caught up in nationalism or or ethnic or cultural identities. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>America took a great step forward a century ago when religious leaders came from around the world to attend the First World Parliament of Religions, it was convened in Chicago during the city's historic Columbian Exposition. <v Father Thomas Baima>Scholars of religion spoke of the 1893 event as changing the way America thought about itself religiously. The day before the parliament, America thought of itself as a Protestant country the day after the parliament. It thought of itself as a country of Protestants, Catholics and Jews. There was a field shift in the way our nation's self identity described itself.
<v Dr. Daniel Gomez-Ibañez>Welcome to the Parliament of the world's religions. <v Prof. Jennie Joe>When the first parliament was how Native Americans were not part of that. It is encouraging to know that you recognize that we do indeed have a religion. <v Rev. Horace Smith>I think it is appropriate to remark that, to my understanding, that the first parliament 100 years ago, that African-American Christians, for many reasons, not allowed to participate in a full manner. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>It would take another hundred years, and the Second World Parliament of Religions, before the voices of native and African-Americans, Muslims, women, children and other indigenous religious leaders who had been excluded a century earlier would be heard. But when they were heard, America's religious identity shifted again. <v Father Thomas Baima>In 1993, the day after the parliament, I think we have to reassess and say, you know, America really is a country of Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Sikhs and Zoroastrians. We are a multi religious country.
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>We know religion can bring people together in a community which human beings need, especially during those rites of passage in life when individuals need to feel as if they're part of something bigger than just themselves. <v Mohammed Kaiseruddin>Islam is very individualistic when it comes to a relationship between an individual and God. There is absolutely no intermediary between a Muslim and his creator. It's complete individuality there. The guidance from the creator is given, an individual is held responsible for understanding that guidance and obeying to that guidance. Nobody else is responsible for that. On top of that, Islam does enforce the communal living because as long as we inhabit the same planet, we need to learn to live with each other. And so there is a system of prayer, system of congregations set up which promotes the communal living. <v Dr. Ghulamhaider Aasi>It is a command or you could say obligation or guidance from God that you worship God five times a day. Muslim worship prayer also requires ablution cleanliness. So there, as bodily cleanliness prepares you to come out of the material world into the spiritual realm, coming into that, you basically prepare yourself and then stand before God. All the people are standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder for toward making a line, in other words. So the element of equality and element of all responsible and accountable to God and then further the structure of Islamic worship. Prayer is such that Muslim never praise alone. Consider their standing posture to call upon all the creation of a creature which is in a standing shape to join you in worship of God. And you bow down, you call upon all the creature who are quadruped. who are bowed, in other words, in their shape. They join too. And then when you prostrate, you are calling upon all the ?inaudible? creature to join you and worship God, and then you sit down, you again call upon all the vegetation, the grass or the stuck creature upon the earth to join you in your plan. So these basically remind you that everything else is creature. Only God is God who is worthy of worship.
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Religions reveal, rituals remind virtually every religion has its own set of rituals, hints of the sacred that remind each community of the values they share, but the same rituals that unite us in one group have the power to divide us from another, something that becomes clear in the rites of passage that surround the great threshold's of human existence, the rituals of Christian baptism and Jewish briss, for instance, that attach to birth. <v Rabbi Mordechai Tarkieltaub>May we please have your attention now, you all know that you probably heard this good news on Friday evening, I surely did. My answering machine got a, got a message. The Levithans had a nice baby boy and they were looking for a Mohel. And I feel very honored to be here on behalf of the Levithans and performing this mitzvah and a continuation of a long tradition, which is brit milah ritual circumcision, a tradition which dates back to Abraham, our patriarch ?Abramovina,? who was commanded by God to the special mitzvah. And I must say, one of the people that are the happiest here is the little Brendan there. They're four years old. Right Brendan? And Brendan promised me that he'll be singing a little song at the end in honor of his little brother, after all. Now he's got someone to boss around, right, Brendan? Good. OK, so without any further ado, let's bring the baby in. OK, [recites ritual line] Shall I get the next step in the briss ceremony is a ?inaudible? Will designate this nice couch here as the throne of Elijah. The reason why we have a throne of Elijah at every ceremony is the constitution tells us that a Prophet Elijah is presented every place for a dual purpose. First and foremost, he brings back the good tidings to God that once again the Jewish nation is faithfully gathered together to renew this covenant which God made so long ago with Abraham, a covenant that is renewed each and every time that we get together to form a briss, a briss of the covenant. And the second purpose of his visit is to bring healing to the baby from the surgical procedure. Let him at the same time that he's bringing a speedy recovery to the baby from a surgical procedure that will be going through in a few minutes. Also, bring a speedy recovery to Irving Levithan, grandfather of the baby [ritual phrase]. OK, please lift the baby up and let's give them to mom and dad. And Brendan Wright, good, OK, there you go. OK, the next step in the ceremony is will be the actual briss. It is more than a surgical procedure. A briss is a ritual. This is the time that a baby's imbued with the spirituality, the last time throughout his lifetime and beyond. And for that reason, the parents, upon bringing new life into the world and as doctor called out, it's a boy, had this task of finding for themselves some oil, who's not only training the surgical aspects of doing a briss, but in the ritual as well. And as I said before, I feel very honored to be here on behalf of Tami and Steve in helping them fulfill this great mitzvah that is incumbent upon them. Together with me, there's another person who complements the team on behalf of the parents, and that is the ?inaudible?, as we talked about before, Poppy, Jerry, ?inaudible? The grandfather of the baby, will be sitting by the baby in other circles that would like to call him the Jewish anesthesiologist because he keeps a little wine glass of wine and keeping the baby quiet. In any case, the importance of the role of the sun, I guess we'll give him wine now. Got a whole cup for you for that. Look at that, he's quiet. OK, OK, and this time if mom wants to stay she's welcome to, but usually they like to step out but don't go too far because it doesn't take too long. OK. OK, let me see. Brendan do you want to give your baby a little your brother a little kiss? Go ahead. Oh, good. ?inaudible?, this is this is for the baby, not for you. You want you got the court order. Yeah, that's why I left the bottle there. Okay, here's diapers for you. [practicing the briss ritual lines] Mazeltov. Simantov or mazel tov. Mazel tov. And this goes back to Abraham when Abraham being the first Jew to recognize the first person actually in the world to recognize God supreme being over anybody else, that the world had to be created by somebody. And he was the first person to recognize that. And then God, as part of this devotion of Abraham to God, told him what I would like you to undergo this ritual of a grace, which is, as I said, this is a covenant being the covenant between the Jewish nation and God. And from then on, they went through all generations.
<v Steve Leviton>I think, you know, Judaism always taught me that, you know, your friends, your neighbors, your family or, you know, the next thing closest to you then God. So to have them around, you know, is like, you know, it's a very religious type experience. <v Tami Leviton>To be honest, as a mother. And I'm the one who just gave birth and your child before anything at first I think the pain, oh, you know, this poor little kid when he's going through those times after realizing what is so formalized in the Jewish religion by, you know, being part of the tradition, something that you go through. So that makes me feel that it's better. You know, it's a good thing for him. <v Rev. Michael Nacius>As we do all things in God's name, we pray together this day in the name of the father and of the son of the Holy Spirit. Amen. My dear parents and godparents, you have asked to have your children baptized. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. My dear children, the Christian community welcomes you this day with great joy in its name. I now claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of the cross. We start by tracing the sign of the cross and the infant's forehead, and we will pour water over their head, we will ignite the crown of their head with oil, as well as placing a white baptismal garment on them and giving them the light of Christ. All of these symbols are important in our faith. So it is important that we begin with the sign of the cross. Then I invite the parents and godparents to do the same. And indeed it would be a wonderful practice of each night. You put your child to bed as you continue to pass on the faith that you say a prayer over them and bless them in God's name as well. Almighty God, we pray that you will come and bless this water in which your servants are about to be baptized. You've called them to the washing of new life in the faith of your church so that they may have eternal life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord and my friends. This is our faith. This is the faith of our church. And we are proud to profess in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen. And now at this time in the ceremony, I'll invite each family to come up individually for the right of baptism. Baptism, I think, puts us in touch with the fact that the gift of life is not just something that happens without a greater plan, the gift of life is precious. It's given to us by God. And the more that we're aware of that, that is a gift from God to be honored and cherished. And baptism is a celebration of that.
<v Maureen Marino>The whole time when you're pregnant, you're just you know, it is it's such a miracle. I mean, you can't even imagine that a human being is growing inside of you. And then when you have this baby and you know you have a perfect little baby, all you can do is, you know, thank God that you just have this beautiful, perfect child that he is giving you to to raise and and be a part of him. <v Rev. Michael Nacius>John Edward, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. And let's see, Godfather, can you dry him off? <v Al Marino>It's kind of an introduction of the baby to to his father, which is God. Well, you know, it's an important first step because the rest of his life will be involved in the church as well. <v Jim Day>Let's not forget what we're around here for, been on the planet for so. Think religion is important in that way? It does humbly, if not more than once a week, but every time you think about it. <v Keith McDonald>We had gone through an awful lot trying to have a child, a family of our own, and really for a little while there, lost a little bit of faith. You know, that's supposed to happen to good people. This really renewed my faith and it's come full circle. It's just been a blessing.
<v Carole McDonald>Want to share that with her. <v Keith McDonald>Share that with her. <v Carole McDonald>And give her and even we've given her family but now we want to give her an even bigger family. The Catholic faith. <v Rev. Michael Nacius>John and Eileen. Is it your will that your daughter, Nicole Marie, should be baptized in the faith of the church that we have professed with you? I think that the impact that faith has and family is that it really can be a source that can hold people together in times of crisis as well as in times of celebration. Today was a wonderful day of celebration for these people, for aunts and uncles and godparents and grandparents gathered around to say thank you, God. This morning I was with the family and we did a home liturgy. And the mother is suffering from cancer. And the family once again gathered together and they, you know, turned to their faith and something to hold on to in the midst of this mystery of life. And so just the importance of family. Family can come. Faith can come alive within the family, and faith can help people mend some brokenness and goodness that takes place in families as well.
<v Wedding announcer>I'm very proud to be the first the first person to announce the new young couple, Mrs and Mr ?inaudible? <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>While birth and death are rites of passage beyond individual consciousness or control, the one right we do enter with at least illusions of control is marriage. And it is the increasing number of mixed marriages that pose the greatest challenge to religious tradition. Marriages like this one between a Russian Jewish woman and a Romanian Orthodox man. <v Arthur Rosenblum>Both of you promise me that you would love each other and stay together as long as you live. And therefore I pronounce you husband and wife.
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Marriages like this between an interracial couple following the Buddhist faith. <v Marriage leaders>[Buddhist marriage rite] <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>And marriages like this one between a Catholic and a Jew today, some 53 percent of all Jews are marrying outside their faith, a cause of concern to many. And only a small handful of clergy will officiate at such interfaith ceremonies. <v Rabbi Allen Secher>So it is only proper that from the two face, we now pronounce God's blessing upon you. <v Father John Cusick>Patrick and Linda. May the Lord bless you and keep you. <v Rabbi Allen Secher>[Religious marriage rite]. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Have all the rites it is here in marriage to you that the conscious will of the individual and the values of the family and community have the greatest potential for conflict, especially when the partners are coming from different faiths.
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>But Father John Cusick and Rabbi Alan Secher know that reaching out beyond their own faiths and becoming friends has enriched their lives. <v Father John Cusick>For me, selfishly, what Alan has done is opened up for me an understanding of Judaism so that I can see how Catholicism and Judaism interface, more than they compete, more than they are seen as enemies in a world, and out of that has flown just the freedom of friendship, which I think can overcome an incredible amount of stereotypes. <v Rabbi Allen Secher>It's a camaraderie beyond anything I've ever known, and that the awesomeness of it all is that we can talk without ever feeling that the other is wrong. Is that this is who we are, this is what we feel, this is what we believe, this is what we cherish. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Their own friendship, encourage them to help others struggling with religious differences.
<v David Livingston>All right, thanks. Thanks, folks, for coming. This is our wedding group meeting. We try to have one of these three times a year. And we are lucky to have tonight Rabbi Allen Secher of the Makom Shalom temple and Father Bernie Peterzak of Church of the Holy Spirit in Shamberg. And they'll be talking to you about the essentials of a of a Jewish wedding service and a Catholic wedding service and contrasting the two. If you get anything from this meeting tonight, we hope that you get the idea that there's no one way of doing a wedding service. There's no one way of doing resolving any other problems that you face in an interfaith marriage. <v Michelle Silver>I know that we're going to do that in our in our daily life. And, you know, from year to year, we're going to do some aspects of both. But as far as the education and, you know, the real religious customs, we haven't resolved it yet. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Bob and Barbara Silber, who are Jewish, have come with their daughter Michelle, who's marrying a Catholic. Bob likes the young man, but still struggles with the idea.
<v Bob Silver>It bothers me, to be honest with you, that that's happening, because eventually that's going to break down the Jewish faith as far as I'm concerned. And the same may happen 100 years or 300 years or a thousand years from today. But that that could wipe out a religion as it is. That bothers me. <v Barbara Silver>I feel a little bit more mellow about it than Bob does. Basically, I think a great deal has to do with the fact that we've lost some very, very dear friends in the course of the year, a lot of dear friends through through death and illness. And I'm thinking to myself, I'm kind of reassessing what is important. <v Matt Voss>By marrying someone who's not Catholic. What does that mean for yourself? What does that mean for your future? And are you still going to be a good person or are you going to turn into this different person that we don't know? <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Ray and Lois Voss are Catholic. They've come with their son Matt, who's marrying Marci Karofsky, a Jew.
<v Lois Voss>Because of the difference in their beliefs. Were they going to be able to find something that they both could accept and still believe in God, or were they going to both put it aside so that they wouldn't have that difference so they could still get married? I think that was my main concern. <v Ray Voss>I think that was one of my and still is one of my biggest concerns is what what happens when when there's a child into the marriage. And I think if you have to answer the first question, which is what religion are you going to follow before you can even go to the second one? <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Three questions confront every interfaith couple. How do we tell our parents? How are we going to get married? And then perhaps the most vexing question of all, how are we going to raise the kids? <v David Livingston>There are a few people here who come from. Jewish, Christian marriages, it is interreligious marriages. Would you guys be willing to talk a little bit about what it feels like to be in a mixed marriage?
<v Adam Johnson>Well, with me, there's no question about it, because I am Catholic and that's what I've been raised. <v Paul Babatano>Between my family, there's a lot of pressure between each family to a figure for which is for me to decide which one, which faith I want to be. And then I'm trying decide in which faith I should be. <v Elie Cahan>Well, for me, it's just no big deal. I just I mean, I know that I'm Jewish and it's no big deal. <v Paul Babatano>I think something that I wish I wasn't so confused about. I mean, I wish I could my family and myself could try and make up my mind for which one I'd like to be. <v Mimi Dunitz>Very often the children feel torn between mommy and daddy. Am I choosing one against another? And that's very often the way children look at this situation. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Marrying outside one's faith confronts the individual, the family and the community with profound questions of identity. <v Father Thomas Baima>You know, when your daughter comes home and says, oh, I've met this wonderful young man and we've decided to get married and, you know, there's great joy and all of a sudden then you discover that there's a an ethnic difference, there's a racial difference, there's a religious difference. And all of those tensions suddenly are brought right into your home, right to your table, and they have to be dealt with probably. There's no area of our work that is more sensitive and yet more no more immediately pastoral than the work we do with couples who are preparing for what we call mixed marriages.
<v Ron Magers (Narrator)>A rabbi opposed to interfaith marriage. <v Rabbi Michael Balinsky>Can a serious Catholic marry a serious Jew in terms of religiously? I don't I don't really think so unless they each have to give up something so profound in the process that I think that to give it up would is very difficult or next to impossible. And therefore, on some level, I think they'd be living a lie as much as they may love each other. But from a religious vantage point, only a good Catholic is going to believe in the necessity of the belief in Jesus. A good Jew religiously is going to have to believe that that belief in Jesus is utterly false and repugnant to Judaism. As a Jew, I'm not sure where the room for compromise is. I'm not sure where the room for creation of something new is. As long as you maintain that belief. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>A rabbi whose own son married outside the Jewish faith. <v Rabbi Alan Bregman>That does not represent failure is a matter of fact. And our home, part of what we raised our children with was to be open to every human being. So and that's very Jewish. That was a very important Jewish value in our home. So I would not in any sense say we have either failed or he is not a good Jew because he married a non Jewish woman. As a matter of fact, he may, in fact, be moving out one of the most powerful Jewish values that we taught in our home and that everybody is equal in God's eyes.
<v Father John Cusick>Let's say you're a child who's Italian and a child who in the other half of your family is Irish. Well, you've got traditions in both families. Are you going to say I'm gonna learn about one and not the other? No. It's who you are. And I think a child born of a Catholic and a Jew that is in fact who they are. They are a child of a Catholic. They are a child of a Jew. And I think both should be celebrated, learned about taught. <v David Kovacs>I think the problem where people have in terms of identity, in terms of their kids are going to be confused is when the adults are in turmoil about what they're doing and one is trying to sneak their religion to the child around the other person's back. And that that kind of thing. I mean, the kids pick up on tension between grown ups. It's just in the air. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Almost everyone has a story to tell about the pain that comes as part of the legacy of religious intolerance. <v Father John Pawlikowski>A long way. I remember my mother telling me a story. My mother grew up in a house that apparently was adjacent to a Greek Orthodox church. And as you know, if you've ever seen a Greek Orthodox wedding, you know, they're very colorful. And and so, you know, obviously the young girls in the neighborhood were very curious about and intrigued by by this sort of thing. And so they one time they when, you know, they opened the door to the church when the wedding was going on. And my mother told me when she recalls telling her mother that they did this and my grandmother was very, very upset and told her that, you know, she would be struck dead if she ever did this again. Well, I mean, those sorts of attitudes, you know, and it was a very profound effect on my mother, you know, to tell a child you're going to be struck dead if you do this sort of act of opening a door to someone else's church. That's not the church of your own tradition. I mean, this you could see what kind of impact that would have on a young child and would carry. I think implant's something that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. And that's why I think Vatican II represented such a profound change, which a lot of people found difficult to accept because they were victims of such such ideas and being implanted in them.
<v Newsreel>Pope Paul VI is borne into the Basilica of St. Peter's to open the third session of the Ecumenical Council, Vatican II. This council has already been termed a towering milestone in church progress toward many diverse goals initiated by the late Pope John XXIII. The council has already done much to bring the Roman Catholic Church in close contact with other faiths. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Reforms wrought during the Second Vatican Council, revolutionary changes to the Catholic Church's relationship with other Christian faiths and to the non Christian world. <v Unidentified woman>So what are we going to do or you can't blow these candles out? <v Marsha Arons>So you know. That's right. We can't blow the candles out. Oh, I have a really good idea. Why don't I teach you all some Hebrew words that we can say and while we're saying we might be able to help these candles go out a little bit. One, two, three. <v Class>[kids say the words out loud].
<v Marsha Arons>Now we need one more word for word, what about a Hebrew word like ?inaudible? Two, three. <v Class>[kids say the word out loud]. <v Sister Mary Ellen Coombe>All right, good. One of the reasons that I even had the idea of going into into schools is because when I work with adults and talk with adults who are open to dialog, almost every single one of them has a story to tell about when they were a child, about something that happened when they were a child. That's meant they could be open a story from a Jew about helping her neighbor decorate their Christmas tree. And she remembers that experience to this day. And she's my age in that she believes was the beginning of some kind of openness for her. She didn't know any of that was about at six and seven years old, but she remembers that experience. And so I really believe we must have those kinds of positive experiences when we're young.
<v Chorus>[Performance of a gospel song] <v Wilfred Reid>We first have to have a sense of our own worth and believe what we believe strongly enough to be able to dialog if a man is fearful and has a sense of insecurity within himself. He can never dialog with anybody else. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Though religions may differ in their rituals, traditions and beliefs, most of us would agree that the true measure of a spiritual life is not determined by one's dogma, but by one's deeds. <v Dr. Ghulamhaider Aasi>Service to God, worship to God. A love of God cannot be demonstrated and expressed until and unless it is shown in action by helping our respecting and caring for our fellow human beings. <v Dr. Chuen Phangchab>One day when the Buddha saw the young man he was worshiping eastern and western, north and south turn up and down 6th direction and the Buddha saw him and greeting him and ask him, why did you do this ?inaudible? And he said, I am doing this one because I know my fathers who worked before he passed away. He told me I want to get the blessing from the court sitting in the six directions so I should do this thing. And the Buddha say, Well, you were wonderful, son. You are such a wonderful son, your ?inaudible? To your father. You honored your father the words and. But I have something to share with you. OK, your father die. Your mother is at home. So east direction is your parents sitting in the east direction. The first one that you should watch respect, love and care for. That's your God who created your life for without them you would not be here. But your dad passed away. Your mother was at home. You care for her.
<v Father John Cusick>If the driving force of my life is really my religious tradition, then it's a God who says all things can move together. I'm driven by that and Allen knows that I'm driven by that. Part of the journey of Jesus was to literally bring people from the edge to the center. He's bringing people who were trashed, seen as outcasts in a center, is seen as paralyzed as tax collectors seen. Everybody was bringing everybody in. And the only people in my read that got it in the neck from Jesus were the religious leaders. That's my group. Because what they did is they talked a good game, but they didn't deliver. And so it seems to me that religious faith for me I only can speak for me is not what I believe, but it's the activity of my life prompted by what I believe the name of the game is action.
<v Funeral priest>The name of the father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Lord be with you. Let us pray. Lord, our God, you are always faithful and quick to show mercy, our brother Ethan was suddenly and violently taken from us, coming swiftly to his aid and mercy on him and comfort his family and friends by the power of the cross. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. <v Ron Magers (Narrator)>Even the funeral of Ethan Kane, a popular 21 year old shot to death while sitting in a car outside his house. <v Father James Vorwoldt>My name is Jim Borholt. I am a Jesuit priest who teaches art and photography at St. Ignatius College Prep. As fate would have it some four years ago, Ethan and I met and from that very first moment we were friends. So it was that this Sunday that I went to our schools open house with a very broken heart.. But then a pair of parents with a seventh grade boy stood in front of me, and while they were talking, I glanced at the youth and our eyes met and I saw the fire, the spark and the light that I had known. And Ethan. And from that point to this moment, I think that what has touched me is a deep sense of thankfulness, thankfulness to God for letting me know Ethan came. It's a thankfulness for letting Ethan touch my life and my heart.
<v Matthew Graham>When I think of Ethan, I think the leader, I think, of someone who never hesitated to state his peace. He was blessed with many talents and surrounded by many friends. <v Ryan Holden>This is very apparent, if you take a look around at the people that have come to pay their respects, he saw straight to the core of a person and judged only on the content of character, not on race or background or anything else. <v Tony Graziano>He seriously was a legend. I mean, I was talking to someone who said he hadn't waited this long for the mayor's funeral. He was He was incredible. He touched everyone I love him. <v Funeral priest>Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
<v Denise Kane>He was a unique individual, but what protected us from the outside world, whatever the outside world is, is there's a whole community was community of his friends and high school and grammar school we grew up in this neighborhood, was baptized at St. Clements. He got his first communion at St. Clements. He got in trouble at St. Clements. What went on in that church? That's what makes us all safe and it makes us safe from the alderman now wants to build what was it always with fences and gates on it? <v Off-camera woman>He was to put up fence up. <v Off-camera man>Wall building. <v Denise Kane>And then the whole mass was about, you know, let's go with peace and walk out of here was not about vengeance. It's not about any of those things that I don't understand or the mysteries it was about, which is about all of us and and keeping your faith and believing in hope and, you know, love and also, you know, music and friendship and laughter and life. That's, you know, that's pretty much what I thought was all about.
<v Funeral priest>You may be seated or kneeled during the communion period as you wish. <v Kate Greenfield>I haven't heard one word come out of her mouth during this whole thing about when she was angry that he was gone, but I didn't I never heard her say anything about being angry at the people who took his life. And she is the kindest, most honest, genuine person that I know. She she instilled that in other people and I believe the same way. And she brought up her boys that way. And they affect other people in that way and they pass it on. And everything that I know about being a good person, just about I learned from Denise. I learned from the example of her kindness to other human beings.
<v Tom Graziano>She teaches us all about that because she knows other people's pain. <v Stephano Robertson>I think this whole family is made up of teachers. You know, as Nic was saying, is the younger generation maybe of the Kanes might not go to church every Sunday, but that to me, that's not what's important. That doesn't mean that they're not practicing their religion because they go out every day and they exemplify what it is to be a good Christian or a good Catholic. They do that through their actions. You know, I've lived here 13 years and I've met more good people and totally different people through them. They've taught us all what it means to be a good person, a caring person and a person of action. Not not just words.
<v Funeral priest>Even Easter Sunday, we were never at a church, so fall was a wonderful thing, of course, as you can see, how many young people of high school and college students came. Men and women, wonderful tribute to Ethan and to the feelings of young people about this kind of tragic crime and also an outpouring of love for his family. And, of course, they themselves are such compassionate people. They stretch out to the young people themselves and they need our support and friendship. At this time. No words can describe, of course, sadness. All of you know that very well. It's more like we're just reaching arms out to hold them, let them know, stand with them in loving their faith or Christian faith. It's this very sad time. Our brother Ethan has gone to his rest, and the peace of Christ made the Lord now welcome him to the table of God's children in heaven with faith and hope in eternal life. Let us assist him with our prayers. <v Greg Kantowicz>I was impressed with that. For at least one day the Catholic Church and religion brought together all of Ethan's and the Kane families, different communities, and actually showed its worth for at least one day. To me, it showed it showed that it was working for probably the first real time in my life. And that was important and it sort of justified. The Catholic schooling and all the other stuff that went along with growing up Catholic, that pretty much everyone in this room has been through.
<v Mary Bird>I don't think you can think about it that much and not have some serious doubts and questions. And since then, you know, the part about, you know, is there God and can you be sure about a God? It's certainly not irrelevant at all. But the more important thing to me is the the living it out. And and you just sort of I mean, at some point you sort of take a gamble and you say, well, you know, this what makes sense to me is the gospel and what it says about how you live every day and how Jesus lived and, you know, whether he was something that people created to make sense out of life. It doesn't really matter that that is the only way that makes sense to me to live. And much of that is through, you know, people's example like Denise. And a lot of times when you talk about religion, you talk about family and and now there's so much fundamental religion and getting back to the family and and, you know, this family has sort of redefined family. They have a traditional family, but they have a very inclusive family, you know, with foster children and neighbors and other people's children. And and I mean, I think that's what religion has to be to to have that view of the world.
<v Funeral priest>And a very wonderful way. I can't help but say to Jim and Denise and to the whole family here that this number of people who have come here is probably the greatest tribute to you as a family, to Ethan, as a young man and to all who shared in this moment. <v James Kane>May I say something. <v Funeral priest>Sure. <v James Kane>When bad things happen, good people come to help. That's what restores our faith in humanity. Anybody who knew Ethan, you know he liked a good party. We're going to go back to Saint Clements, you know where he loved to play, and we're going to have a good party. Thanks again. <v Funeral priest>Once again, let us pray to God of holiness and power, accept our prayers on behalf of your servant. <v Denise Kane>The family of your thinking, wishes to thank all who have offered their support and prayers for our loss. Ethan was a gift to us. He touched so many people. We only wish that each of you could have shared in the gift of Ethan for he was a giver. He was not a taker and he especially gave to children. Let his memory be a guide to all for peace, harmony and an understanding that we all belong to the family of man. And it is only when we see one another's family that we can do away with violence and harm.
<v Funeral priest>Oh, boy, oh. <v Funeral priest>Queenie's. I love. <v Funeral priest>And I stop, I pull back and as I said and I say <v Dirk Ficca>We speak of religious harmony, not unity, religious unity suggests we're somehow going to become one world religion or we can kind of boil all the religions down to a certain set of principles. And most religious traditions resist that. And I, I don't see that it's possible. It's kind of like mixing metaphors. I don't think you can do that. Religious harmony, however, says we can be respectful of each other. We can learn from each other. We can work together while retaining the uniqueness and the specialists of our own traditions.
Chicago Matters
Questions of Faith
The Heart of Religion
Producing Organization
WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
Window to the World Communications, Inc.
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-526-dr2p55fk27).
Episode Description
Certain life events often compel us to turn to religion in search of meaning, comfort, and community. Producer Len Aronson examines the role religion plays through three 'Rites of passage,' birth, marriage, and death.--supplemental material.</p
Series Description
"Each year WTTW devotes its Chicago Matters Series to a subject of concern to the community. This year, the series presented an in-depth look at religion. Joined by WBEZ Radio and The Chicago Public Library, the series addressed QUESTIONS OF FAITH through documentaries, weekly radio programs and public discussions. "No matter what religion we are ascribed, there are certain life events that often compel us to turn to religion in search of meaning, comfort and community. THE HEART OF RELIGION examines the role religion plays in our personal and spiritual life through three 'rites of passage,' birth, marriage and death. "CHICAGO'S SACRED TREASURES takes viewers on a visual tour through the city and suburbs to illustrate how religious communities express their faith through the arts. Through music, dance, sculpture, calligraphy, painting, stained glass and even needlework the program conveys the idea that in all religions there are those who are inspired to express their devotion through some sore of creative expression. "A special edition of CHICAGO TONIGHT, WTTW's nightly public affairs series, introduces viewers to Chicago's fastest-growing and second-largest religion--Islam. Host John Callaway moderates this discussion about beliefs, practices, and stereotypes with four area Muslims, including a leader of the offshoot Nation of Islam. "The CHICAGO MATTERS MINUTES served as public service announcements as well as promotion for the series. As a community service to our viewers, the CHICAGO MATTERS SERIES utilized various mediums to promote religious understanding and tolerance among the different faiths through dialogue. "RECOMMENDED VIEWING: THE HEART OF RELIGION and CHICAGO's SACRED TREASURES"--1996 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
This content is owned by Window to the World Communications, Inc. (WTTW). For more information, visit or
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Window to the World Communications, Inc.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-66cad89883e (Filename)
Format: Betacam: SP
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Chicago Matters; Questions of Faith; The Heart of Religion,” 1996-04-08, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “Chicago Matters; Questions of Faith; The Heart of Religion.” 1996-04-08. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Chicago Matters; Questions of Faith; The Heart of Religion. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from