On Being Blog

Trent Gilliss Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 09:26

Pairing this photo of a modernist architectural wonder with words from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, who instructs us to pursue our creative instincts.

Trent Gilliss Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 04:45

Our executive editor's weekly missal sends you postcards from the road, an invitation to sing at our studios, words of wisdom and poetry from Wendell Berry and Parker Palmer, and a journalism student's reflection on breathing.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 05:15

As you read this poem, Parker Palmer asks us to ponder a simple question: "How, then, shall I live?"

Melissah Yang Monday, May 19, 2014 - 05:55

A joyous monk at a meditation center in India teaches a young journalist how to breathe, one breath at a time.

Mariah Helgeson Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 01:40

As the narrative of Noah and the flood resurfaces in pop culture, a poetic midrash by Elie Wiesel.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 05:05

Parker Palmer draws inspiration from the words of Wendell Berry on celebrating one's obstacles and the impeded stream that sings.

Mariah Helgeson Monday, May 12, 2014 - 17:56

A poetic photoquote from Rebecca Solnit on meeting moments of arrival, moments of realization, and moments of discovery with open arms.

Trent Gilliss Monday, May 12, 2014 - 17:07

The best of the week — including an invitation to communal song, forest music from Schumann, words of gratitude and grace from Mary Oliver, and the manifold gifts of a storyteller.

Heather McIlvaine Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 19:13

What is the value of retreating? A life-long retreat-goer thinks about the value of solitude, togetherness, seeking, and the sacredness of close human relationships.

Mariah Helgeson Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 19:50

In this photoquote of the day, Annie Dillard reminds us to ride the "monsters down deep."

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Latest Interviews

July 10, 2014

One of the most extraordinary minds of American and global history, W.E.B. Du Bois penned the famous line that "the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line." He is a formative voice for many of the people who gave us the Civil Rights Movement. But his passionate, poetic words speak to all of us navigating the ever-unfolding, unfinished business of civil rights. We bring Du Bois' life and ideas into relief for the 21st century — featuring one of the last interviews the great Maya Angelou gave before her death.

July 3, 2014

For the Fourth of July, a refreshing reality check about the long road of American democracy. We remember forgotten but fascinating, useful history as we contemplate how we might help young democracies on their own tumultuous paths now.

June 26, 2014

We tend to frame our cultural conversation about science and religion as a debate — two either/or ways of describing reality. With mathematician Jim Bradley and philosopher Michael Ruse, we trace a quieter evolution of science and religion in interplay — not a matter of competing answers, but of complementary questions with room for humanity, nuance, and humor.

June 19, 2014

Who knew that we learn empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving through play — something the dictionary defines as "pleasurable and apparently purposeless activity." Dr. Stuart Brown suggests that the rough-and-tumble play of children actually prevents violent behavior, and that play can grow human talents and character across a lifetime. Play, as he studies it, is an indispensable part of being human.

June 12, 2014

The surprising psychology behind morality is at the heart of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s research. “When it comes to moral judgments," he says, "we think we are scientists discovering the truth, but actually we are lawyers arguing for positions we arrived at by other means.” He explains “liberal” and “conservative” not narrowly or necessarily as political affiliations, but as personality types — ways of moving through the world. His own self-described “conservative-hating, religion-hating, secular liberal instincts” have been challenged by his own studies.