With 11 children shot just a few weeks ago in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on February 21 the expansion of a program to offer therapy, field trips and mentorship to young people deemed at high risk of experiencing gun violence and trauma.
Based on a pilot run last summer, the program promises a three-year investment, starting with $1.1 million this summer, to offer more than 2,000 young people emotional and social support.
Besides helping teens cope with the fallout of violence, the program also aims to convince them not to pick up a gun, or engage in conflict that could end in violence.
“If you’ve picked up a gun, you’ve picked up a ticking time bomb,” Lightfoot said at a press conference at Phillips High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
Chicago has a responsibility to help young people make good choices, the mayor said. “As a city, we have a fundamental obligation to ensure young people who are involved in gun violence have the resources and supports they need to get back on the right path.”
Young people in Chicago are disproportionately likely to be involved in gun violence — they are 11% of the city’s population, but make up 19% of homicide victims and 25% of homicide suspects.
Many of the victims, and those actively involved in violence, are likely to have attended an alternative school. In the four years through 2016-17, one-quarter of the 425 Chicago Public Schools students who died by violence had been attending those schools. While only 2% of district enrollment, alternative school students are disproportionately affected by violence in the city, according to a Chicago Reporter investigation.
The city’s new initiative will focus on alternative school students, schools chief Janice Jackson said at Friday’s press conference. The program also will serve students involved in the justice system, previously victimized by violence, or not on track to graduate on time.
A review by the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs found that students involved in the pilot program had 32% fewer misconduct incidents in schools than the control group.
Even as the mayor pushed to involve young people in the program, known as Choose to Change, she acknowledged that they don’t control all the violence. Of last weekend’s shootings involving children, at least three were accidental.
“Adults, we have to be better,” Lightfoot said.
Speaking at the press conference, Acting Police Superintendent Charlie Beck said two adults were prosecuted over the weekend for endangering young people by allowing access to guns.
The mayor also acknowledged that efforts to end gun violence run up against intractable social problems.
“It’s an unfortunate fact that it is easier for them to get access to a handgun than to get a job, easier to handle things on the street than it is to get access to social-emotional support,” Lightfoot said.
If the summer program is any indication, the new program will provide some support for young people, but might not change the harsh reality they face each day.
Kayla, one of the students who participated in a six-week pilot program over the summer, said the program was a welcome respite but, like the rest of the students, she would return to communities that struggle with a lack of jobs and housing and an excess of violence.
“Y’all took kids that ain’t had nothing and gave them something,” she told Chalkbeat last summer. “It’s a positive thing, but it’s just for the moment.”
The season of Lent is upon us. This is a holy season for Christians who seek to identify with Jesus Christ’s 40 days of fasting as he prepared to be tested and later crucified. In order to identify with Christ’s self-sacrifice, Christians often join in a symbolic fast, giving up certain foods such as meat or chocolate or even giving up certain practices.
In recent years, fasting from the internet or other forms of technology has become popular. Fasting from technology is encouraged by many religious leaders as the ideal way for individuals to reflect on their daily dependency on technology. Sometimes called taking a “digital Sabbath,” it refers to the Christian and Jewish practice, in which one day a week is set aside as sacred.
On such a day, secular practices such as using media are halted in order to help believers focus on God and their faith. This is based on the premise that the best way to critically engage with technology is to unplug from it. It’s a way to remember that true communication is unmediated by technology and grounded in being with one another in the “real world.”
Unplugging from social media or limiting one’s internet use for a set period such as during Lent can be helpful for some individuals. My research, conducted over two decades, however, shows that some of core assumptions on which digital fasting is based on can be problematic or misguided.
Technology can, in fact, be good for religion. The question is, how do we engage with technology thoughtfully and actively?
In my recent book, “Networked Theology,” my coauthor Stephen Garner and I discuss how some religious communities believe the media primarily promote immoral values and frivolous entertainment. Therefore, they insist interaction with media via digital devices should be controlled, just as is done during a digital fast.
In “Networked Theology,” we explain how abstaining from media is based on an assumption often referred to as “technological determinism.” It is a theory that argues media technology shapes how individuals in society think and act. Technology is presented as the central factor driving society, and its character is often described as selfish and dehumanizing.
This view presents the internet as a medium that creates environments that disconnect us from reality. For example, YouTube could be seen to promote entertainment culture over wisdom, Facebook encourages self-promotion over community-building and Twitter facilitates tweeting whatever comes to one’s mind rather than listening.
People are not passive users
The truth is digital media is increasingly a part of daily routines. People learn, do business and communicate with technology. Often technology enhances our daily lives, such as eyeglasses correcting vision or the telephone helping people communicate across time and space.
The problem, however, comes when we assume that people have only two options: to engage technology and inevitably be seduced by it, or refuse to use it in order to resist its power.
Digital fasting follows this second option. It presents individuals as slaves of technology. Taking the occasional timeout from the all-powerful grip of technology is done in order to simply regroup and prepare to again face its irresistible seduction.
In my view, such an approach places too much emphasis on the assertion that technological devices now dictate most people’s lives. It also does not take into account that technology users have the ability to make their own choices about how they approach it. So people can choose to use technology in ways that fulfill spiritual goals.
In “Networked Theology,” we argue that digital technology can be reshaped by users. As others have written, we agree that people should take more responsibility for the time spent with their devices.
Deepening devotion with technology
So, instead of resisting technology during Lent, individuals could use this space of holy reflection to actively consider how to integrate technology to support their spiritual development.
Religious groups have the ability to determine the culture technology promotes, if only they take time to prayerfully create their own “theology of technology.”
I describe part of this process as being “techno-selective.” What this means is reflecting on the technology we select and how and why we use it. It also means being proactive in shaping our technologies so they enhance and not distract from our spiritual journeys.
A digital Lent can become about considering how our devices can help us do justice, practice kindness and demonstrate humility in our world. For example, people could ask if their postings on Facebook are helping in creating a positive or more abusive world? Or, whether the apps they use or their cellphone etiquette promotes peace and social change?
Apps for social justice
In the last five years I have been working with a team of students at Texas A&M University to explore how social and mobile media are being developed that can support a variety of religious beliefs and practices. We found there are religious apps to help people do that. Internet memes also provide unique insights into common stereotypes about religion within popular culture.
Memes can be crafted to counter such misconceptions. For example, the wearing of hijabs, or headscarves, by Muslim women is viewed by many outside the religion as oppressive, but wearing the veil and modesty are themes frequently affirmed in memes created by Muslims.
Further, our research on religious mobile apps has found increasing numbers of apps are available that help individuals stay faithful in their religious practices on a daily basis. Apps can help with the reading of sacred texts, provide religious study aids, help locate kosher or halal products to maintain a holy lifestyle and connect people with places of worship and also to other beliefs.
Also apps designed to encourage involvement in social justice causes, such as TraffickStop, Lose Weight or Donate and CharityMiles, help raise awareness of key issues and even help users link their daily practices, such as what they eat, to micro-donations to social justice organizations.
A digital Lent?
Lent is a great time for religious individuals and groups to pause and consider not only their own technological practices and how they shape our world but also the ways in which digital resources can be integrated into their communities to support their beliefs.
So instead of giving up Facebook for Lent, consider doing Lent digitally.
Practicing 40 days of technoselectivity might actually have a longer-term impact socially and spiritually on one’s daily life. It could even deepen religious devotion.
From the moment of capture, through the treacherous middle passage, after the final sale and throughout life in North America, the experience of enslaved Africans who first arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, some 400 years ago, was characterized by loss, terror and abuse.
The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 made it illegal to buy and sell people in British colonies, but in the independent United States slavery remained a prominent – and legal – practice until December 1865. From this tragic backdrop one of the most poignant American musical genres, the Negro spiritual, was birthed.
Sometimes called slave songs, jubilees and sorrow songs, spirituals were created out of, and spoke directly to, the black experience in America prior to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, that declared all slaves free.
West African roots
Spirituals have been a part of my life from childhood. In small churches in Virginia and North Carolina, we sang the songs of our ancestors, drawing strength and hope. I went on to study, perform and teach the spiritual for over 40 years to people across the U.S. and in various parts of the world.
Despite attempts, white slave-owners could not strip Africans of their culture. Even with a new language, English, and without familiar instruments, the enslaved people turned the peculiarities of African musical expressions into the African American sound.
Rhythms were complex and marked by syncopation, an accent on the weak beat. Call-and-response, a technique rooted in sub-Saharan West African culture, was frequently employed in spirituals. Call-and-response is very much like a conversation – the leader makes a statement or asks a question and others answer or expound.
An example of this is the spiritual, Certainly Lord. The leader excitedly queries, “Have you got good religion?” and others jubilantly respond, “Certainly, Lord.” Using repetition and improvisation, the conversation continues to build until everyone exclaims, “certainly, certainly, certainly, Lord!”
In Africa, drums were used to communicate from village to village because they could be used to mimic the inflection of voices.
As early as 1739 in the British colonies, drums were prohibited by law and characterized as weapons in an attempt to prevent slaves from building community and inciting rebellion.
As a result, enslaved people “played” drum patterns on the body. Hands clapped, feet stomped, bodies swayed and mouths provided sophisticated rhythmic patterns. This can be observed in Hambone, an example of improvised body music.
Some spirituals were derived from African melodies. Others were “new,” freely composed songs with a melodic phrase borrowed from here and a rhythmic pattern from there – all combined to create an highly improvised form.
The spiritual was deeply rooted in the oral tradition and often created spontaneously, one person starting a tune and another joining until a new song was added to the community repertoire. The sophisticated result was beautifully described in 1862 by Philadelphia musicologist and piano teacher Lucy McKim Garrison.
“It is difficult to express the entire character of these negro ballads by mere musical notes and signs,” she said. “The odd turns made in the throat; the curious rhythmic effect produced by single voices chiming in at different irregular intervals, seem almost as impossible to place on score.”
Textually, the spiritual drew from the Hebrew-Christian Bible, particularly the Old Testament, with its stories of deliverance and liberation. Songs like “Go Down Moses” direct the awaited deliverer to “go down” to Southern plantations and “tell ole Pharaoh” – the masters – to “let my people go.”
Songs of survival
For the slaves, the spiritual proved to be an ingenious tool used to counter senseless brutality and the denial of personhood. In order to survive emotionally, resilience was critical. In the spirituals, slaves sang out their struggle, weariness, loneliness, sorrow, hope and determination for a new and better life.
Yet these are not songs of anger. They are songs of survival that voice an unwavering belief in their own humanity and attest to an abiding faith in the ultimate triumph of good over systemic evil.
Interspersed within these seemingly hopeless texts are phrases that reflect the heart’s hope: the words “true believer” amid the acknowledgment that “sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” for example; and “glory, hallelujah” interjected after the text, “nobody knows the trouble I see.”
People whose every movement was dictated audaciously declared, “I’ve got shoes. You’ve got shoes. All God’s children got shoes. When I get to heaven gonna put on my shoes, gonna walk all over God’s heaven.” In the same song they denounced the hypocrisy of the slaveholders’ religion: “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t going there.”
Spirituals weren’t simply religious music. In his seminal work, “Narrative Of The Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave,” published in 1845, the abolitionist explains,
“they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.”
The spiritual served as a mediator between the dissonance of oppression and the belief that there was “a bright side somewhere.”
Four hundred years after the birth of slavery, as the world still struggles with racial division, injustice and a sense of hopelessness, spirituals can teach how to build hope in the face of despair and challenge the status quo.
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is hoping his decades of experience at the Texas Capitol set him apart in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Photo credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
Royce West was not on the ballot in 2006, the year Democrats swept Dallas County and wrested a GOP stronghold into Democrats’ firm grip. But the longtime state senator still earned a spot onstage at the Adam’s Mark Hotel for the victory party, memorably mimicking a Johnny Carson golf swing and serving as hype man for the members of his party who joined him that night in elected office.
“All these Democrats,” he told winning candidates late that night, as favorable returns poured in, “they are fired up.”
And when a reporter turned to him, he summed it up nicely.
“Democrats have long been on the outside looking in,” West told The Dallas Morning News. “We now have the leadership of this county.”
Thirteen years ago, West was a pivotal player in a campaign to flip Dallas County the same way his party now hopes to flip Texas. This year, West aims to be on the ballot himself if the big swing comes, competing against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who is expected to easily win his own primary. But first, West, the elder statesman in a crowded field with no clear front-runner, has to make it through the March 3 primary.
In 2006, West helped engineer a turnout machine that capitalized on demographic changes to the county, propelling Democrats to victory with the support of black and Hispanic voters. That strategy became a model for flipping other Texas districts and will undergird the Democratic approach in 2020. As he sprints toward this year’s primary, with early voting starting Feb. 18, the 27-year state senator said he’s looking back to 2006 for “the formula that it takes in order to get it done.”
“Look at Dallas County, and Harris County, which just turned blue. You’ve gotta be able to put together coalitions,” he said. “That’s the lesson that I’ve learned.”
The first clues that Dallas County might be ripe for a turnover came in 2004.
George W. Bush beat John Kerry there by nearly 10,000 votes, and Republican candidates for Railroad Commission and Texas Supreme Court won the county. But on the same election night, Dallas Democrat Lupe Valdez shocked the nation by becoming the first openly gay Hispanic woman elected sheriff in the United States. And more Democrats than Republicans pulled the straight-party lever to vote for every candidate on the party’s slate.
A small group of Democrats gathered at West’s law office and began to sketch plans, recalled Domingo Garcia, a former state representative from the area who is now the national president of League of United Latin American Citizens. (LULAC is neutral in the race.) Demographic shifts were benefitting Democrats as white people moved out of the county and black and Hispanic families moved in. The Democratic vote in the county had increased 2 points every election cycle since 1998, the party’s statisticians reported. If Democrats in 2006 could turn out unprecedented numbers of voters of color and build coalitions with white Democrats, they could seize control of the county.
According to interviews with five of the operation’s key players, West was a critical leader of the coordinated campaign, a “trusted messenger” to African American communities both inside and outside his South Dallas district, and a major credibility booster to donors who might otherwise have been skeptical of the effort’s viability. He went on the radio, appeared in television ads, attended church with the Democratic nominee for governor and sponsored fish fries.
“Royce had been an elected official in the area for a long time,” said Matt Angle, a Democratic operative who worked on the campaign. “He did enough work on television, got on the radio enough, that his voice had influence on African American voters beyond the boundaries of his district.”
After 5 p.m., West’s law office and others’ offices turned into phone banks. Volunteers stayed on the lines until 9 p.m., as Garcia recalled. They dialed up “people who had never been called before,” Garcia said — part of an effort to expand the Democratic base. Dozens of judicial candidates pooled resources to fund the campaign.
It was West’s idea, Garcia said, to bus voters straight from church to the polls — an effort that shot up turnout in African American and Hispanic communities on an early voting “Super Sunday.”
West spent thousands of his own campaign funds on a race he was not competing in. When donors were skeptical — could Dallas County ever go blue? — he vouched for the effort, securing crucial dollars.
And West, allies said, was determined to get out the vote in his own district — critical work that many politicians are unwilling to take on when their own seats are not at stake.
“If Royce West’s district did not turn out, we would not have gotten over the line. That’s a fact,” said Jane Hamilton, a Democratic consultant who led the effort.
The result: A Democrat, Jim Foster, won the county’s chief executive job; Dallas elected its first black district attorney, Democrat Craig Watkins, who wept before he took the stage on election night. Dozens of Democrats won benches from Republican judges. And West gained credibility as a political leader.
“He became the power broker of Dallas County,” Garcia said. “Everybody who was running statewide or countywide knew that they had to make a stop at Sen. West’s office. And his support could make you or break you in a countywide race.”
Now the North Texas kingmaker is leaning on those relationships and that record as he competes in his most difficult political fight in decades, battling 11 opponents for a chance to take on Cornyn. West’s team hopes name recognition and support in the Dallas area will get him to the May 26 runoff election, when the top two vote-getters from March’s primary will compete for the party’s nomination.
Coalition building defined West’s long political career. He has the endorsement of all but one of his Democratic Senate colleagues, as well as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who backed West as the “best choice not just for Houston, but for Texas” over a Houston City Council member and a former Houston congressman.
“My path is to make sure, No. 1, I unify African American and Latino voters in the state of Texas,” West said, harkening back to the approach that won his county in 2006. He cited an endorsement from the Texas Tejano Democrats and his top vote-getter status in a recent statewide poll conducted by the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats as evidence that he’s done that.
At the Texas Capitol, West muscled through funding for a new University of North Texas campus in South Dallas, the first public university in the area. He takes pride in a 2009 law that offers stipends to family members who take in children who would otherwise grow up in foster care and a measure establishing dash camera requirements for police officers.
All, he said, required building bipartisan coalitions in a GOP-dominated Legislature where Democrats’ priorities tend to flounder.
West’s challenge will be communicating those legislative achievements to the many voters who pay little attention to the Legislature. West, 67, is a moderate consensus builder at a time when some Texas Democrats want flame-throwers, and an elder statesman when many in his party are eager for new blood. He does not support a Green New Deal or mandatory gun buyback programs.
West said he is “not that person” who “throws bombs and hand grenades 24/7.”
“I’m more focused on getting things done,” he said. “No Democrat can win in Texas without being center-left.”
Polls show West toward the front of a still-shifting pack, though many primary voters remain undecided. He finished the most recent campaign finance reporting period with $526,000 cash on hand. That put him behind just one candidate, combat veteran MJ Hegar, who has positioned herself as the candidate to beat with a high-profile endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
West has often faced scrutiny for his business dealings. As an attorney in Dallas, West has made millions in legal fees representing public entities, including the school districts of Houston, Dallas and Crowley and the cities of Houston and Fort Worth, The Texas Tribune reported in September. In the Texas Senate, he is a leading Democrat on the education committee.
West insisted that his stature as a state senator does not make it easier to secure lucrative clients and said there are no conflicts of interest between his public office and private business.
For now, West is busy crisscrossing the state, including stops in rural areas that rarely hear from Democrats. If he is to win in November, the independent and moderate Republican voters he seeks to bring out will form an important part of his coalition.
But first, he needs to secure Democratic support broad and deep enough to propel him to victory statewide for the first time.
Garcia said the senator’s chances are good.
“If he gets to the runoff, I think he’s the nominee,” Garcia said. “If he’s able to consolidate his North Texas base and expand into other urban areas like Houston, Austin and San Antonio, then I think he will lock it up.”
Disclosure: The University of North Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Justice Clarence Thomas, the member of the Supreme Court known for his reticence, speaks for much of a new two-hour documentary about his life.
Part of the story he tells in “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” centers on his longtime Catholic faith — nurtured by his grandfather who raised him in his Georgia home, nuns who taught him in school and people who prayed with him during his confirmation process to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Producer/director Michael Pack interviewed Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, for 30 hours for the film that is currently in 20 cities, including Washington, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. Pack recently served as president of Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, but has produced documentaries for PBS about George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and “God and the Inner City.”
He talked to Religion News Service about what he learned about Thomas’ religious life as he filmed his latest documentary. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What struck you most about Clarence Thomas’ faith?
I’m struck by the depth of Clarence Thomas’ faith. It was strong when he first had it, but when you have a faith, lose your faith and come back to your faith, in some ways it’s stronger then. I’m also impressed at how Justice Thomas relies on his faith to get him through the difficult and dark moments of his life, especially his contentious confirmation hearing.
Could you talk about the role of his grandfather and how the Bible shaped his philosophy and the lessons he passed on to Thomas?
Thomas’ grandfather was functionally illiterate. So what he would do with the Bible is he would try to get a few words by heart and rely on those. The values he gave to Clarence Thomas, he felt were rooted in the Bible: working from sun to sun, never quitting, being true to yourself.
In addition to his grandfather, Thomas cites the influence of nuns at a segregated Catholic school he attended.
As he says in the documentary, he felt that they loved him and he worked hard to live up to that. And even though it was segregated Savannah, he felt they were on his side. They believed in these young boys and girls. And he adopted the faith they instilled in him. He continued to visit those nuns until several of them passed away.
He has spoken in the past about wanting to be a priest at a young age, and he attended seminary before he went to college. What drew him to seminary life?
That’s right. He went first to a minor seminary for his last year of high school and then he went to a seminary for his first year of college so he went to two different seminaries. He loved the ritual. He loved the prayers. He loved the Gregorian chant. I think he loved the entire religious environment that he lived in. He found it appealing. It spoke to something deep in his soul.
He ended up leaving that second seminary. Why?
It was racist incidents. We tell a story in which he was in one class where some kid passed him a folded note and on the front of the folded note it said “I like Martin Luther King Jr.” You open it up and it said “dead.”
This sort of mockery of somebody he thought was important and of the civil rights movement was upsetting to Justice Thomas. But it confirmed his feeling that the Catholic Church wasn’t doing enough for civil rights. And don’t forget this is the late ’60s and he’s swept up in the mood of the times as well. It’s the time of black power, of rebellion, of urban riot and, I’d say, that as a young man, Justice Thomas got caught up in those ideas too.
Clarence Thomas’s yearbook picture from Holy Cross College, 1969-1970. Photo courtesy of Leola Williams
How does that fit with his attendance at College of the Holy Cross?
I think that he felt he had no alternative but to go to Holy Cross. His grandfather had kicked him out of his home. He had no job. He happened to have applied to Holy Cross and had a full scholarship. So he went. But he, as soon as he got there, he hung around with Marxist students, black radicals that didn’t take religion all that seriously — even if they were at Holy Cross — so he went through a period of time where he wasn’t going to church and he wasn’t thinking about religion.
After the King assassination, Thomas said that race was his religion. But he had a turnabout in his faith again.
That’s right. He participated in an anti-war demonstration that got violent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he got swept up in the mob violence of the moment and he watched himself being swept up and did not like what he saw. By the time that was over and he returned to Holy Cross, it was well past midnight and everything was closed, but he went to the chapel where he had not prayed in a long time. He knelt in front of the chapel and prayed for God to take anger out of his heart. And that was the beginning of his return to his faith.
While working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Thomas delved into the history of law and particularly noted a reference to equality in the Declaration of Independence. How did those words shape his thinking about law and life?
Justice Thomas felt that the words of the declaration, “all men are created equal” and that they’re “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” that these truths pointed to a deep basis of American life and of the Constitution. And I think that underpins his jurisprudence today.
Justice Clarence Thomas sits at his desk. Photo courtesy of Justice Thomas
How has he applied that to court decisions?
His sense of what equality means underlies his jurisprudence in the Grutter decision on affirmative action. Justice Thomas was saying, I believe, that every man has that right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to succeed or fail on their own. And he felt that the affirmative action that was under discussion in the Grutter opinion was not doing that, that there were two sets of criteria for different kinds of people and he felt that was unjust in the sense that the declaration points to justice.
What role did faith play in his life as he was being considered for the Supreme Court amid allegations that he sexually harassed onetime colleague Anita Hill?
His confirmation battle had two parts and the first part was closer to a traditional confirmation battle. After that the Anita Hill allegations of sexual harassment were leaked and that leak caused the Senate Judiciary Committee to reconvene and hold several more days of hearings. And that second time, he and Ginni felt it was a spiritual battle and they felt, rather than relying on their political skills or intellectual skills, they were relying a lot on their faith to get them through.
There is a brief mention of the “prayer partners” that were important to them at that time. Did he say more about that?
They needed to pray with other people to sort of be in touch with their faith during that second part of the hearing. He needed to be sustained by prayer and by prayer with other people as well. And because the media camped out in front of his house, it was easier for people to come to his house than for him to go out to a church.
Is there anything else about his faith that ended up on the cutting room floor?
He’s always coming back to the nuns. We portray his going to parochial school at the time that it happens in his biography. But in my talking to him, he’s always talking about what his grandfather and the nuns taught him at many points in his life. It’s a touchstone that he goes back to.