Orphan Awareness Month: Moving Beyond Awareness


By Jenny Eaton DyerNovember is Orphan Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness and funding for the millions of children around the world displaced by HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty.  According to UNICEF, there are over 153 million children worldwide who have lost one or both parents. Of these orphans, HIV/AIDS has orphaned 17.9 million of these children, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.There is good news.  The peak deaths has been reached, in 2005, and s … [Read more...]

Mormon Homophobia and the Unintended Theological Crisis

By Stuart Parker.On Thursday, November 5th, 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), colloquially known as the Mormons, announced a new set of policies to reinforce the hard line it has taken against homosexuality. Since becoming the primary sponsor and proponent of Proposition Eight, the 2008 amendment to California’s state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, the LDS have jockeyed for position among conservative American religions to distinguish themselves as the … [Read more...]

Infant Mortality Disparity in the Developing World


By Dr. David Vanderpool, M.D. As a surgeon practicing in the U.S., I rarely encountered the issue of infant mortality. While I occasionally saw babies die in the U.S., the overwhelming resources we have at our disposal fortunately made this a rare event.  However, after I was called to sell my surgical practice and permanently moved to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, infant mortality became a desperate daily struggle.Defined as death within the first … [Read more...]

Chicago Jains Celebrate Annual Fast for Self, Neighbor, and the World


By Brianne Donaldson. Editor’s Note: This reflection is Part 2 in a series exploring the Jain festival of Paryuṣana at the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago. Read Part 1 here. Also, the names of Jain community members under the age of 18 years old have been shortened to their first initial.   A row of large plastic pitchers lines the serving table at the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago. Each pitcher is filled with a different kind of water prepared with either coconut, lemon, mung bean … [Read more...]

Behavioral and Social Scientists: Witch Doctors of the 21st Century?

By Thomas M. Doran.Someone’s got to say it. Many, if not most, behavioral and social scientists are wreaking havoc. But how dare we question them, because they know better than we do. Don’t they have access to knowledge and information we don’t? Don’t they offer a progressive vision of the next stage of human development, calling us to abandon our former bigotry and superstitions?A recent Wall Street Journal reference to an article by Monya Baker—“Over half of psychological studies fail r … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Realities of Climate Change

By Sharon Friedman.Dear Pope Francis, I know you don’t know about climate change. I know because I worked in the business (as climate advisor to a U.S. government executive, pretty much the equivalent of a mid- level bishop in the Roman Catholic Church).  So, like any high level person, you are listening to your advisors.  But I think they may be leading you in a direction that is not the best one for you as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, nor for the rest of the world. I don’t know if … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Jews


By Michael Deschamps. The Roman Catholic Church is an institution with nearly two thousand years of history. As far as religious institutions go, it is rather unparalleled; most religions have survived through the centuries through their followers but the institutions surrounded them have long ago crumbled. As such, the church carries a great deal of contradiction as it juxtaposes itself against the centuries of history that it carries. Naomi Klein noted in her article in The New Yorker about … [Read more...]

Chicago Jains Celebrate Ancient Ritual of Repentance and Non-Harm

Jain Nuns in India / Image by arjunstc – Arjun © CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

By Brianne Donaldson. In the dimly lit basement of the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago last Thursday, 17 September, two hundred children, teenagers, and young professionals sit down upon the floor slowly, careful not to squash any insects. The gesture is largely ceremonial, as there are not many insects inside the meticulously clean and modern educational hall, which has been transformed for the night into a ritualized space for reverent self-reflection. These second- and third-generation … [Read more...]

Dangers of Legitimizing Bigotry

lculig / Shutterstock

By Richard Cizik.Last week, a Sikh American resident from the Chicago suburbs was brutally assaulted by a random stranger.  The perpetrator told the man, “Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!” before the victim fell unconscious. This innocent individual—a member of his local community and a father of two—was identified with terrorists, and bigotry was used to justify a horrific beating.  The origin of the word “bigot” dates as far back as 1598.  According to Wikipedia, the story … [Read more...]

The Martyrs of La Florida Missions

Supannee Hickman / Shutterstock.com

By Jonathan Shea.In the run-up to Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, much ink has been spilled and many pixels exploded over the pending canonization of Bl. Junipero Serra, the founder of the California missions. The controversy, centering on how the native peoples of California were treated by the Spanish (be it the mission priests, colonial government, etc.) has been well-treated in both the Catholic and mainstream press.Remarkably, on the other side of the country the story … [Read more...]