On Being Blog

Friday, February 27, 2009 - 10:20

Watching singer Stevie Wonder’s acceptance speech of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, I was struck by the tenor and natural way he spoke about his faith and invoked God’s name.

“But what’s really exciting for me today is that we truly have lived to see a time where America has a chance to again live up to the greatness that it deserves to be seen and known as, through the love and the caring and the commitment of a president, as in our president, Barack Obama.

It’s exciting ‘cause I know my children will be able to say, ‘I was born when there was the first African American president. Yeah, I can do that too!’ But not only can they do that, but all children of all various ethnicities understand that they can speak in truth. They can talk about loving and caring about this country. They can talk about being a united people of the United States of America. They can live that dream that Dr. King talked about so long ago.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 09:40

The vulnerability of revisiting this conversation reminds Krista to embrace "dark times as expressions of human vitality."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - 15:00

We’ve been talking a lot more about poetry here lately, thanks to the recently increased involvement of Larissa, APM’s Poetry Producer. I have to say, I can’t complain about the fact that I now have poetry arriving in my inbox on a fairly regular basis.

Illustrated portrait of John KeatsThinking more about poetry has reminded me of a message we received from a listener when we rebroadcasted “A History of Doubt” in January. In the message she mentioned, “As a poet, I’ve long embraced doubt, which Keats conceptualized and praised as Negative Capability.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - 09:03

An essay on frugality's new trendiness and old roots in Christian teaching.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 10:39
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 05:35

James Wright's poem on the terror of hospital bills and refocusing on what we really value.

Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 10:52
Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 06:14

Laura Rozen reports that during a conference call George Mitchell, the newly appointed U.S. envoy to the Middle East, told Jewish community leaders:

Mitchell said that on the plane back from his recent trip to the Middle East, he had re-read his eight-year-old report on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and was struck by how much the situation had changed. Among the changes he noted, Mitchell said that eight years ago, no one talked about Iran. But this time, everyone mentioned it, both Israeli and Arab leaders.


Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 12:32

Video of a Seed salon with Janna Levin and fiction writer Jonathon Lethem.

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April 24, 2014

The idea of reciting an unchanging creed sounds suspicious to modern ears. But the late, great historian Jaroslav Pelikan illuminated ancient tradition in order to enliven faith in the present and the future. He insisted that strong statements of belief will be necessary if pluralism in the 21st century is to thrive. We take in his moving, provocative perspective on our enduring need for creeds.

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"The soul is contained in the voice."

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With a master of midrash as our guide, we walk through the Exodus story at the heart of Passover. It's not the simple narrative you've watched at the movies or learned in Sunday school. Neither Moses or Pharaoh, nor the oppressed Israelites or even God, are as they seem. As Avivah Zornberg reveals, Exodus is a cargo of hidden stories — telling the messy, strange, redemptive truth of us as we are, and life as it is.

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An astrophysicist who studies the shape of the universe, Janna Levin has also explored her science by writing a novel about two pivotal 20th-century mathematicians, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing. Both men pushed at boundaries where mathematics presses on grand questions of meaning and purpose. Such questions, she says, help create the technologies that are now changing our sense of what it means to be human.

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Philosopher, historian, and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht has traced how Western civilization has at times demonized those who commit suicide, at times celebrated it as a moral freedom. She proposes a reframed cultural conversation, based not on morality or rights but on our essential need for each other.