On Being Blog

Gloria Jean Bubba Saturday, June 7, 2014 - 16:00

A daughter shares this meditation on the grief and the loss that comes slowly from losing her mother to Alzheimer's disease. Through the story of Gethsemane, she finds an uncomfortable solace and a quiet rebuke for falling asleep while waiting.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 05:30

To be human is to live with paradox and hold it in our hands. Parker Palmer offers some grounding advice on creating more spaces to do so gracefully — and a poem by May Sarton.

Trent Gilliss Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 04:42

Our weekly roundup of all things curious and inspiring, including a night of communal singing with Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, a reflection on Barbara Ehrenreich's mysticism, a young preacher's remembrance of a legend, and a visualization of tikkun olam from artist Anselm Kiefer.

Martin E. Marty Monday, June 2, 2014 - 05:41

A new survey shows that Christians who take phone polls exaggerate their attendance more than those who take online polls. But, Martin Marty says, it's showing what we all have known for centuries.

Mariah Helgeson Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 06:44

Listen to this beautiful recitation of the Maasai creed from the late great scholar Jaroslav Pelikan. It's a treasure.

Trent Gilliss Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 16:31

Join us for communal singing as we learn from choral director and conductor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu as talks more about the unbeatable joy of singing together. Tesfa will also lead us in the art of communal music-making. If a gun-shy singer like me will attend, you have no reason to be scared.

Trent Gilliss Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 04:26

The best of the week — including night music from Minnesota loons, our Webby speech, a cheeky take on summer fashion, unexpected advice on trusting one's creative instincts, and a profound story from a late civil rights veteran.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 05:50

Life has its moments of melancholy. Parker Palmer reminds us to stop, take it all in, and write some poetry to recall life's aspirations.

Betty M. Bayer Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 05:27

In Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book — and first memoir — she asks the age-old questions at the center of human life. A self-described atheist, she leans into the word "mystical" and encourages more cosmic wandering.

Lucas Johnson Sunday, May 25, 2014 - 05:59

A young preacher remembers the legendary Vincent Harding and "his gift of sight to help us see ourselves and each other."

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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.