Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Easter’s message at a nursing home ]]> Lead story image

I thought about how we — the church — have become more fully engaged in ritual and religion. Less connected to the real work of redemption and restoration, reflective of the love of a God who gave His only begotten Son. ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:36:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Why do we glorify the shameful? ]]> Lead story image

Random thoughts: Is the lip bone somehow connected to the booty bone? Nowadays, it sure seems so, judging by the common pucker-over-the-shoulder pose — on the faces of little girls to grandmothers — with their posteriors poked out and emblazoned across social media. Just a random thought. Here’s another: If you pose your little boy as a Lil’ G — wearing a fitted cap turned sideways, sagging pants and mean mugging for the camera while clutching a fistful of dollars — why not go ahead and have him climb in a casket or stand behind steel bars and complete this … ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 02:19:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Brotherhood is more than a pledge ]]> Lead story image

From the south end of the quad, they approached slowly, stomping like fearless soldiers in their purple and gold, their glory shining as bright as the sun. The brothers. The crowd oohed and ahhed at their choreographed dramatics. Their arms flailed as they barked their fraternal passion. They kicked and sprang in the air in their gold, spray-painted combat boots, like the Jesse White Tumblers, jumping rhythmically in ritual and celebration of their Greek fraternal heritage. These were the men of Omega Psi Phi, also known as Ques (pronounced Q’s). Back then, as a freshman at the University of Illinois … ]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 02:20:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ Old Man Newell knew a thing or two ]]> Lead story image

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: His first name was Mister. His last name was Newell. A dark-chocolate, thinly muscular man, he smoked a pipe whose scent of cherry tobacco hung on a summer’s evening breeze. His real first name was Dewey — something I never knew as a kid. Back then, every adult male had the same first name: Mister. His wife was Bessie. But every woman’s first name back then was Miss or Missus. ]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 02:21:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ A church language that heals ]]> Lead story image

I can still hear their earnest prayers inside one small storefront church or another, rising above a rickety space heater. The church mothers kneel in a circle, over folding chairs. They groan at times. Speak in a language I cannot understand. Most often, they cry during these early morning meetings held faithfully for years every Tuesday and Friday. They pray for husbands. For wayward sons and daughters and grandchildren. That the Lord would bless, heal and save their families. There is no organ. No piano. Only the sweet harmony of a dozen or so church mothers, blending in half-sung, unscripted … ]]> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 02:21:35 -0500 <![CDATA[ Life lessons from my grandfather ]]> Lead story image

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:09:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Basketball gave a ghetto boy hope ]]> Lead story image

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: Basketball was cool, like a pair of white Chuck Taylors. Exhilarating — like the thrill of nailing a shot from deep with a defender in your face. Basketball gave us status. It was our stairway to heaven. Our worship. Our escape. In the early ’70s on the West Side, we played all day. Intoxicating was basketball’s lure: glory, fame and the potential promise of NBA contracts someday for some. Except playing basketball was never really about money. ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:18:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Winters have been even harsher ]]> Lead story image

It has been a cold, cold winter. But I’ve known colder. In January 1979, snow blanketed the prairie, piled up like icy, white mountains. I was a freshman at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The blizzard forced the cancellation of classes, ushered our world to a momentary standstill, eerily silent and frozen. I remember trudging across campus through the frosted tundra. Then it grew colder: news that my father had been killed in a car accident. It hit like an unsuspecting storm. Then came my trek from the snow-laden Midwest to Evergreen, Ala., to stand, finally, face to face … ]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 08:51:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Faith can win where government fails ]]> Lead story image

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: Some enemies and issues must be confronted not only in the natural sense but also spiritually, and that the murder and gun violence that plague black and brown communities across this nation are among these. ]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 15:39:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘DC’ inspired many, and still will ]]> Lead story image

For Duane L. Conway, his daughters were his little princesses. His little boys were his joy. And family and true friends were for making precious memories that always return like the breath of spring. For him, life was worth living. Each day a gift. And health and wholeness, the pursuit of legacy, fitness and dreams, something he shared as his passion and profession. That much is detectable from photographs of him flashing that effervescent signature smile. Clear from the way friends and family remember the 6-foot-2 former offensive lineman who once played football at Eastern Illinois University. That much is … ]]> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 08:41:02 -0500 <![CDATA[ How society offends black women ]]> Lead story image

Dear Sister, I know that you are not a female dog or a “ho.” Not a “hood rat,” “chicken head,” “trick” or any of the other derogatory names I have heard roll publicly and freely off the tongues of some brothers — and also sisters. I carry the heart of every black woman who has nurtured, nourished, lifted me or prayed for me. And how often I have written — or stood — fervently in your defense and praise. I say this as a point of clarity of my intent of last week’s column. Some sisters — most of them … ]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13:42:52 -0500 <![CDATA[ Talking BrotherMan to SisterGirl ]]> Lead story image

This is a fictional dialogue that grew out of a real conversation between myself and my friend Lisa Maria Carroll. SisterGirl: You’re supposed to be a man and lead. Why won’t you stand up and occupy your rightful place . . . BrotherMan: You’re right, baby, you right. . . . OK, let’s get ready to go . . . SisterGirl: You don’t tell me what to do, buster, @#!@#! You’re not the boss of me! BrotherMan: Huh? SisterGirl: OK, first, where we going? See, ’cause I promised myself and God that after the last man led me astray, I … ]]> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:15:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ What I would do if I were the pastor ]]> Lead story image

If I were a pastor, I would tear down these walls. Move beyond the warm sanctuary of brick, glass and mortar. Into the cold streets and dark subterranean spaces where humans dwell on life’s fringes, more in despair than in hope. I would discard the high and mighty pulpit — if we must gather in so-called houses of worship at all — so that none are lifted up. Every believer on the same plane. No pomp and circumstance, if I were a pastor. I would seek to make the church touchable again. Willing to touch again. Offended less by the … ]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 13:18:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ What was lost over a cup of coffee ]]> Lead story image

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: The “Roundtable” is dead. Dead like leaves fallen from brown, barren trees that now stand naked in the cold. Dead is the place for me that once represented a community of brothers who found camaraderie, solace and laughter over a cup of joe at a south suburban coffee shop. ]]> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 08:41:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Cut from ‘frosty cloth’ of Chicago ]]> Lead story image

This is the Windy City. In the wintertime, the howling wind licks that icy lake, and on some especially frigid days whips across the city like an invisible twister, frosting everything in its path, turning mustaches and eyebrows into white ice. There is no escaping the cold here, where men in my old West Side neighborhood known as K-Town on the most brutal nights of winter disconnected their car batteries and carried them indoors for protection. Somebody a long time ago nicknamed Chicago’s glacial winter wind the “Hawk.” That’s what we called it anyway. When it was really cold outside … ]]> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:49:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Charge: She gave life, he gave death ]]> Lead story image

In the warmth of her womb, she carried him. An umbilical cord connected mother to son, nourishing him for months from the substance of her very being, her heart and soul. Life. Life is what Yolanda Holmes gave her baby boy. He gave her death. That is the allegation of prosecutors who say Qawmane Wilson, 24, admitted to arranging his mother’s murder in September 2012, in order to drain more than $90,000 from her bank accounts and cash in as the sole beneficiary on her two life insurance policies. A man and a woman, both in their twenties, were also … ]]> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 15:32:24 -0500 <![CDATA[ What gift could I give a good kid? ]]> Lead story image

The boy set us up good. My wife and I sat in my office at home talking one evening when our son, 11, appeared at the door, bearing gifts a week before Christmas. “Here Mom and Dad,” he said, handing each of us a booklet bound with Scotch tape. “Aw-w-w-w-w . . . This is so-o-o-o nice,” his mother said of the homemade Christmas cards he created on the computer, complete with a color photo of Homer Simpson. Our son basked in the glow of his mother’s adoration. “Hey boy,” I interrupted in my best Bernie Mac voice. “Don’t be … ]]> Mon, 27 Jan 2014 12:31:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ The truth about what real men do ]]> Lead story image

A male reader writes in response to my recent reflections on real men, “…For whatever reason, you have joined the Terry McMillan club, where all men are trifling and dogs. Brother, you could not be further from the truth.” Truth, my brother? You want truth? Truth is, I am not in that club. Truth is, some men are trifling and dogs. Truth is that as a man, I get to choose whether to be responsible, trifling, or even a dog. And the truth is, all men have flaws and failings — and the man who says he doesn’t, also has … ]]> Mon, 20 Jan 2014 08:15:39 -0500