On Being Blog

Monday, March 24, 2008 - 21:11

While conducting some research for our upcoming show on humanism, I was reminded of an amazing truth about ancient texts. Greek philosophy doesn’t come to us whole; it is an inheritance in pieces. The passage of time always edits, and of Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher who died in 270 BCE, barely any original writing remains.

The scarcity of original texts can be difficult in some ways. We must learn what we can about him, Epicurus, from the philosophers who wrote about him after his death, the Epicureans. The most important of these writings, and the one source for texts by Epicurus himself, is a biography by Diogenes, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, from 230 CE. It is not always easy to do research on a figure whose personal writings are so few.

Friday, March 21, 2008 - 09:45

What happens when an opportunity to trace an interesting story intersects with the rebroadcast of a popular program? Producer Colleen Scheck tells her story.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 - 15:46
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - 16:19

Is math a basic need we intuit like hunger, thirst, and love?

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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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.

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