FEATURE Image: Old Testament prophets window, Mausoleum, Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois. This is one of scores of original stained glass and artifacts in the mausoleum in Chicago’s near western suburbs.
The crucifix today is located in a southern section of Queen of Heaven cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. The cemetery is almost 500 acres that offers extensive in-ground burials as well as large indoor and outdoor mausoleum complexes where each year there are thousands of new burials. Since 1947, many notable Chicago-area figures from the world of politics, sports, religion, and business, including several gangland figures, are buried in these consecrated precincts. Overall, there are around 125,000 burials in the cemetery.
In the expansive mausoleum is a gallery of stained glass, statuary and carved wood and statuary in marble, bronze and mosaic. The art of the main building was created mostly by DaPrato Studios of Chicago, with an international array of artists and architectural designers.
The miraculous crucifix’s connection to Medjugorje visionaries.
That there is a “miraculous” crucifix on the grounds of Queen of Heaven cemetery gained noteriety starting around 1990.
The story is told about Joe Reinholtz, a retired railroad worker from neighboring Westchester, Illinois, who had lost his sight in the early 1980’s. Reinholtz, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune published in July 1991 (see – https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1991-07-24-9103220302-story.html), claimed to have been directed to the 15-foot-tall crucifix by one of the Medjugorje visionaries when he visited the Catholic pilgrimage site in Bosnia on two occasions in the late 1980’s.
After being directed by the Medjugorje visionary to pray before the crucifix in Queen of Heaven, Reinholtz (who died in 1996) and others reported that the figure of Christ on the cross bled. When more visitors reported that they too had seen the crucifix bleed, the cemetery staff investigated. They reported that they found nothing out of the ordinary at the crucifix site.
Cures and signs.
At the same time that the crucifix was seen to bleed, Joe Reinholtz was healed of his blindness. He also reported having seen the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared at the crucifix site, accompanied by angels, including St. Michael the Archangel.
More of these many kinds of appearances continued to take place in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These were accompanied by other miraculous signs, many defying ready explanations. For example, some claimed the beads of ordinary rosaries had turned to gold after they prayed with them at the site.
Despite an incident of vandalism in 1994 where the feet of Jesus were broken off, inexplicable occurrences continued to be reported regularly at the crucifix into the mid1990s when they slacked off.
Into the first quarter of the 21st century, people still slowly drive past the crucifix, while others are found at the foot of the crucifix sometimes alone, or with family or friend, or in larger groups. Many look to be praying at the “miraculous” crucifix, some certainly looking for a healing miracle like Joe Reinholtz experienced there in 1986.
On Saturday, June 7, 1924, Ruth M. Anderson was married in this sleeveless wedding dress (left) to William Noling in Evanston, Illinois. The dress is now on display in the Charles Gates Dawes House in Evanston. Dawes was Vice President of the United States from 1925 to 1929 under President Calvin Coolidge.
The Noling-Anderson wedding was held in the house of the bride and her parents, Isak and Jennie (née Johnson) Anderson, at 1035 Ridge Avenue in Evanston. Built in 1914, the house still stands as it did 100 years ago.
The dress is made of silk satin in an egg shell color. It is accented by an oval medallion with bands also made of silk satin. The medallion is embroidered with faux pearl and other glass beads.
While the wedding dress was very fashionable for the mid1920’s – sleeveless tops of all shapes and sizes were the rage in 1924 – it probably was not allowed in one of Evanston’s houses of worship. The fact that it was sleeveless and au courant would be deemed by many as risqué for showing too much bare skin inspired by a thoroughly modern flapper style. It was only in 1924, for instance, that the Methodist Episcopal General Conference first lifted its ban on going to the theater as well as dancing though dance music was the radio’s most popular programming.
The bridesmaid dress (right) was the height of women’s style in 1924 – a mainly straight, knee-length skirt gathered slightly or cut with front pleats. Short sleeve and sleeveless tops were the rage in 1924 reflected in Hollywood by the Mack Sennett girls who starred in movies where they pranced on the beach in a chorus line in not much more than bathing caps and short swim suits.
The fashionable bride and her court likely sported the latest style of facial make-up which is hinted at in the 2015 display– masklike with garish, even orange, lipstick and heavy red rouge on the cheeks. Popular fashion accessories from 1924 are also evident – pearls knotted at the neck and simple, though elegant, arm bracelets.
The bride’s father, Isak Anderson, was born in Sweden and came to the United States at 20 years old in 1890. In 1891 he married Jennie Johnson and they had Ruth and another child. Ruth’s father was a bank director and partner in a local tailoring business in downtown Evanston at 608 Davis that today is a noodle shop.
With Prohibition starting in 1920, guests at the wedding may have been served the latest popular highball whose recipe called for fruit juice and raw eggs. Their morning could have started with a bowl of Wheaties at breakfast, since the cereal of champions made its first appearance in 1924.
SOURCES: Dawes House, Evanston Illinois; The Swedish Element in Illinois: Survey of the Past Seven Decades, Ernst Wilhelm Olson, p. 586; American Chronicle, Lois Gordon & Alan Gordon, Yale University Press, New Haven & London,1999, pp. 230-238; Chicago: The Glamour Years (1919-1941), Thomas G. Aylesworth & Virginia Aylesworth, Gallery Books, NY, 1986, p.14.
I. Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come”
Field of Dreams is a 1989 sports fantasy from Universal Pictures and starring Kevin Costner. It is a creative film about, one could say, the intersection of reality and fantasy on the American landscape—or simply the intersection of what are different realities.
Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, is a young husband and father, who hears voices to build a baseball field on his low-income Iowa farm. Ray is promised that “If you build it, he will come.”
The “he” is Kinsella’s own deceased father John who had played baseball as a young man, got old too quick, and died after he and teenage Ray had a falling out over the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox team.
The late-1980’s Ray, married with a family, still thinks about his relationship with his father that was cut short. The film asks whether it is possible for adult Ray to meet his father and baseball player John Kinsella on his “field of dreams.”
Ray never doubts his voices but is never sure what they mean except when he tries to connect the dots by traveling across long distances of place and season to meet strangers for whom the answers most matter.
Ray’s efforts lead to surprising, mysterious and ultimately fulfilling encounters for those who come to play on his field of dreams—or are there simply to watch.
II. Hinduism and the Christian Ashram Movement
Bede Griffiths (1906-1993) was a Catholic English monk. He is known as Swami Dayananda (bliss of compassion) as he dedicated his life’s work to the Christian Ashram Movement and its role in the development of dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism.
Swami Dayananda said in an interview: “I feel that in the Christian view, which I share, the body is of very great importance. There is a tendency in certain forms of Hinduism, certainly, to think that the purpose of spiritual exercises is to get beyond the body.
But in my understanding, the human being is body, soul, spirit, and it is an integrated whole. Body and soul – the body is dependent upon and integrated with soul, and body and soul are dependent upon and integrated in spirit. The body is part of the wholeness of the human being.
And that’s why incarnation is very important. God enters the psycho-physical realm and assumes it and doesn’t discard it. And at the resurrection the body is not discarded, it is assumed into the life with the soul and the spirit. I think the place of the body is a significant part of the Christian contribution. It is the total human being which is to enter into the life of the spirit.”
SOURCE: Marvin Barrett, “The Silent Guide,” Parabola, v.xi, no. 1.
III. Public Clothes & Private Self
There is a drive in today’s society to be singular, intimate, and well known in a society that, paradoxically, is vast and impersonal, and common and conventional.
Seeking to be “authentic” in the public domain, we are also insecure or unsure about the people we meet there. Many don’t know their next door neighbors but look or presume to be intimate with the wider world. To be intimate and authentic in a vast and alien society― which is evident as one surfs the internet― is today’s growth industry.
Yet even in the public space there are less flashy moments of behavior about the private self. Such is the thriving language of love—a raised eyebrow; dropped glove; the rush to light the actual and proverbial cigarette. Each small, well-timed gesture and inflection of voice helps raise the romantic pitch and without loss of boundaries between the private self and public space.
These silent cues can be applied in many venues, although often replaced by the importance of interchangeble self-image striving for immediate intimacy—that is, a glimpse of the inner self, the cult of personality—in the public space.
Fashion changes clothes every season in the age-old attempt to convey private personality (“taste”) in the public forum. The popular, and therefore, important, social model is to take the world by storm—and each and every time. That allows for the chic costumed and yet exposed private self to stand up to public scrutiny or be destroyed by it. This increasingly happens online in the social media “mob.”
Clothing provides a rich metaphor for the dilemma of the private self in the public space. It serves those seeking to make hyperbole of their private personality and its fluctuating nature as well as those seeking to downplay and hide the same.
In a world of omnipresent cellphone and security cameras airport pat downs, the notion of clothing to exclude public encroachment on the private self appears to bemore and more gone with the wind.
Even at Christmas the use of clothes in a sacred context is important. In the Gospel of Luke the angel told the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people….there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 10-12).
In the Bible a major teaching tradition is that when a person discovers the Divine—as God makes every attempt to self-disclose—that moment of recognition is like putting on a new garment tailored to that individual’s exact measurements.
This Divine garment endows a person with a sense of dignity and private self-awareness―a highly personal investiture that turns the modern notion of the private-as-public self upside down.
This rule of clothes extends to John the Baptist—a figure who is important in both Christianity (as saint and prophet) and Islam (as a prophet).
John is described as coming out of the wilderness wearing “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3). When God “dresses” humanity in the divine image something is expected of them in ways other than the modern idea of a new image or appeal.
It is an inner and private change which takes on a significantly different meaning than just one more public role.
SOURCES: Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man, W.W. Norton, 1976; Joseph Wolf, “Divine Clothing,” Parabola, v.xix, no. 3.
IV. Crisis of Child Hunger in U.S. Today
Hunger is defined as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food as well as an exhausted condition caused by want of food.”
While being homeless as an adult is a harsh test, to be homeless as a child is worse. Society’s striving to make homelessness nonexistent or scarce is painfully incomplete. Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children who are the country’s future.
In presidential and other political campaigns there is rhetoric by candidates of the major parties about the importance of safety and security from terrorists who do bodily harm. Yet each night, such as tonight, more than 15 million American children go to bed hungry, according to Feeding America.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the United States today has an all-time high population of 74 million children. More than 20% of these children are food-insecure.
In a land of plenty, where more than 2 in 3 adult Americans are considered to be overweight or obese, food injustice is a daily problem.