On Being Blog

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - 16:36

Rajaa Alsanea

OK. I had begun this post with a long-winded preface about SOF’s coverage of Islam, how much I’ve learned, the good I hope it’s doing, and all the rest. Nix that.

Friday, March 14, 2008 - 13:17

We do talk about big ideas at work. But we also talk about what TV shows we are catching up on. I happen to be watching the final season of The Sopranos on DVD. I will not include a spoiler here. But I will mention a minor but significant plot element that occurrs in one episode — an Ojibwe poem I first read in the break-through anthology Technicians of the Sacred years ago. Here it is, in one of its many variant forms:

Sometimes I
I go about pitying
Myself
While I am carried by the wind
Across the sky.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 09:56

With fewer travel commitments in the coming months, we’ll have more time to set up interviews and produce programs. So, we’re currently pursuing a number of interesting voices, recording interviews, and producing shows with interviews we’ve recently completed. Which all means that in the coming weeks and months, you may be hearing shows on:

  • the resurgence of Humanism
  • the state of the Catholic Church
  • the ethics of international law and the torture issue
  • the sustainability of languages
  • a biographical program on Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
  • a round-table discussion with several prominent Evangelical Christians on how their political engagement has changed since the last election

A lot can change during the production process, but we are working on getting these shows on the air and on the Web. Just a little sneak peek at what’s cooking.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 04:37
Monday, March 10, 2008 - 12:41

Before I arrived here in snowy St. Paul, not very long ago, I was living in Venice, Italy, sharing a two-bedroom apartment in the old Castello neighborhood with a scientist of sperm whale sound and a landscape architect. I worked days at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, cleaning the base below the Calder mobile, washing the windows, selling tickets, and guarding rooms in which hung paintings by Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Severini, Miro, and Pollock. Doing a boring job in a beautiful place is one of the greatest opportunities for meditation I have had, and I spent many hours comparing Mondrian’s The Sea to the ripples on the canal outside the wrought iron grated windows.

Sunday, March 9, 2008 - 11:58

Our producer explores the bond she shares with her dog, Oban.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008 - 15:16

As a response to religious intolerance following 9/11, the Brooklyn Public Library featured "Diversity of Devotion" — a photo documentary project depicting 27 religions practiced within the five boroughs of New York City. View and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - 11:36

(photo:Vitor Sá - Virgu/Flickr)

I enjoyed Nicholson Baker’s essay about Wikipedia (a warning: in his discussion of Wikipedia vandalism, he quotes some profane language) in The New York Review of Books. He notes the astonishing fact that 1500 articles are deleted from Wikipedia every day, and there are warring factions of deletionists and inclusionists battling each other all the time.

Monday, March 3, 2008 - 15:00

The response to my previous entry reminded me that we have been in pursuit of our next program on the topic of spirituality and recovery from addiction for awhile, and I don’t feel I personally am making great headway identifying the right voice(s).

There are a million stories to tell, of course, which sometimes actually makes it harder to find the one right story to hone in on. What are the stories that matter to you? Who would you interview? Who do you read on the subject? We’re truly curious to hear your thoughts.


Friday, February 29, 2008 - 15:06

heaven

I can’t think of my mother without thinking of Mahalia Jackson’s recording of “Move On Up a Little Higher”, with its promise of seeing one’s loving mother in heaven, and its crazy-ecstatic refrain, It’ll be always howdy howdy and never goodbye, that makes me just fall apart. The heart-stopping idea is that loss is erased, that it’s just gone from us, in heaven.

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Latest Interviews

April 10, 2014

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.

April 3, 2014

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.

March 27, 2014

"Your staying alive means so much more than you really know or that anyone is aware of at this moment."

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.

March 20, 2014

"There's no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love."

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on how his understanding of God and humanity has unfolded through the history he's lived and shaped.

March 13, 2014

“Let's go back and look at our faith before it was reduced to a system, before it was reduced to a system of abstractions and beliefs. How can we rediscover our faith as a series of stories and as a series of encounters?”

Brian McLaren on the evolution of Christianity and the meaning of progressive Evangelicalism.

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