I wrote my first newspaper story about the Roman Catholic Church in 1999 when The Oklahoman assigned me to cover Pope John Paul II's visit to St. Louis.
At the time, I didn't know what a diocese was or the difference between a bishop and a cardinal. I had heard of the pope.
In the nearly two decades since, as I've gained experience in religion reporting, I've become much more familiar with the Catholic Church. Last year, for example, I covered the first beatification Mass for a U.S.-born priest and martyr.
But there's still so much I have to learn.
Such as: I had no idea of this little fact that I learned via a Charlotte Observer story this week:
Canon law — the rules of the Catholic Church — says people who are to receive Communion should fast from food and drink (except water) for at least one hour beforehand.
The reason for the Observer mentioning that requirement is equally compelling and intriguing: Religion writer Tim Funk reports on the question of why a transgender teen was denied Communion. Chewing gum is one of the possibilities.
Funk's lede explains the other possibility: