A Good Laugh with the President; Parker Pays Tribute; A New "None"; Contemplation of Resistance and Existence

Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 5:06am

A Good Laugh with the President; Parker Pays Tribute; A New "None"; Contemplation of Resistance and Existence

by Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer

What a week! Last Monday, Krista was in the East Room of the White House receiving her medal from President Obama. Absolutely surreal. Family duties had me roaming around northern Minnesota at that time, so we stopped off at a Cenex station to watch the live video stream on my phone. At the moment when she bowed her head, my wife and I looked at each other and got a might bit weepy. So much joy and happiness for my "comrade" (as Krista would say).

Credit: Bohari License: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Upon receiving the wonderful news, Parker Palmer pays homage to Krista with some words of wisdom from Diane Ackerman:

"The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between."

From left to right: singer Annie Lennox, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, and the author sharing a pint in Malawi.

Credit: John Cary

It's with a great deal of excitement that I introduce you to our new weekly columnist, Ms. Courtney Martin. Rather than being defined by what she's not, Courtney offers a more complex perspective on a new generation of seekers thinly labeled as the "Nones." She introduces herself in her inaugural post, "They Call Us 'Nones' But We're So Much More", and will offer commentary on fresh ways of looking at "the burden and joy of trying to understand how to be a good human."

The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, so much so that Courtney wrote:

"Honestly, this is the first time in a decade that I've read something I've written and found that the comment section was constructive and generous. Thank you all! (I write frequently for places like CNN, where the comment section somehow surfaces the worst of humanity.)"

Look for her posts each Friday!

Credit: David McNew License: Getty Images.

And, guest contributor Paul Martin submitted this really smart meditation and a poem on the suffering Job in "Revelation in the Whirlwind of Existence." Here he ruminates on faith as more of a function of being than belief:

"What if faith is truly existential — not a Kierkegaardian leap of faith, which is actually a leap to belief, but a reality already there for us to notice and accept?"

An article worth reading: "The Scourge of 'Relatability'" by Rebecca Mead. Krista forwarded this provocative thought piece in The New Yorker to me this morning. I find myself still processing the arguments and figuring out where I stand. You?

Please feel free to reach out to me. I so appreciate the feedback and the chance to have an exchange. Reach me at tgilliss@onbeing.org and on Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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Trent Gilliss is executive editor of On Being and chief content officer of Krista Tippett Public Productions. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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Good article: "Whence comes relatability? A hundred years ago, if someone said something was “relatable,” she meant that it could be told—the Shakespearean sense of “relate”—or that it could be connected to some other thing." In other contexts the word grates on me.

I agree with Mead's conclusion that needing to have the work itself provide the path of relating is a new reception problem. Not that an artist shouldn't include cultural "relatability" with creativity, but as a necessary CRITERION for positive evaluation it points to a loss of human capacity. I'll blame on the same forces that are diluting USA education systems. heartbreaking.