Here are a dozen tips for exploring religion in the Fox River Valley, garnered over the years:
In the midst of a world that the media claims is leaving the orbit of religion, Elgin is holding on to it, and, unlike other communities in the area that convert used churches into restaurants, antique shops, and office space, actually has an unwritten practice of passing those buildings on to other churches in need of worship space. Might have something to do with the next point . . .
The area and general shape of downtown Elgin's "Holy Hill" neighborhood is amazingly close to that of Vatican City.
It is acceptable to talk about religion and politics in the same sentence. Think about the past month . . .
The way people pronounce "Amen" just may provide a clue to their religious preference, or at least that of their upbringing.
One who practices Canon Law does not generally facilitate arms treaties.
Lords Park has nothing to do with Jesus.
A priest, a rabbi, and a minister actually do walk in to the same places together..
Virtually every world religion is represented in the Fox River Valley.
In Elgin, 56% of the population is affiliated with a house of worship, compared to 50% nationwide. Of those, the widest variations occur among Catholics, with nearly 35% of Elgin as members, compared to almost 22% nationwide; the Lutherans with 6% locally, compared to 2.5% nationwide; and Baptist, who make up slightly more than 2%, compared to slightly more than 8% across the country.
Some congregations still occasionally baptize people in local bodies of water, such as the Fox River and Tyler Creek.
An increasing number of congregations have set up or are looking into establishing columbaria at their worship centers to hold the cremains of members and their families. One such church, Holy Trinity Lutheran near downtown Elgin, has a columbarium inside in one of its rooms.
Spirituality and rituals are something everyone and everything has, including organizations, corporations, and communities.
And let me add one more:
Never, ever, assume anything about someone else's religion/faith tradition/ spirituality. Don't. Just . . . don't. Everyone has their own interpretation, based on their world experience, so, dogma aside, it's perhaps best to simply ask open-ended questions and listen, really 'hear', their answers.
Oh, and one other observation:
Of all the famous personalities in the world of religion I have been privileged to interview over the years, the most popular with my readers is still my interview with the Easter Bunny. That may explain all of the other things in this column. That having been said, it really was a great interview; those floppy ears, huge eyes, wrinkled-up nose . . .