On Being Blog

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 17:09

I’ve been fascinated by the responses that have come in to our program with Binyavanga Wainaina. They’ve come in part from other Africans and from current and former NGOs, missionaries, and Peace Corps volunteers. This felt like a huge and daunting, yet pressing, subject to open up. And that’s clearly what we’ve done — not started a conversation but opened it a little wider; the questions and concerns he articulated are present in many closest to this work.

I’m especially intrigued, as well, by one e-mail we received from New Orleans, drawing parallels between aid to post-Katrina New Orleans and aid to Africa. It is a stunning reflection on how, even domestically, the dramatic gesture is deceptively satisfying. Most of all I’m pleased that so many found Binyavanga Wainaina’s insights emboldening, as I did. His hard truth-telling — even his satire — is the opposite of a call to cynicism. It is a call to attentiveness to the deeper truth of ourselves and the other.

Monday, December 8, 2008 - 14:18

A "scientist's scientist" on stress in tough economic times.

Friday, December 5, 2008 - 16:18

Our online editor reflects on finding new meaning — and new life — in Krista's 2000 interview with Robert Coles.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 17:09

A panel discussion with three smart people exploring the moral and ethical aspects of the economic downturn.

Monday, November 24, 2008 - 16:19

For the National Day of Listening: listen to stories of friends and loved ones, and record them too.

Friday, November 21, 2008 - 16:56

A random tweet lifts the spirits while researching the ethics of global aid.

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Friday, November 21, 2008 - 13:10

Can one really explore spirituality with a joystick?

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April 17, 2014

"The soul is contained in the voice."

StoryCorps founder David Isay and Krista Tippett have an intimate conversation about their shared love of listening — and the importance of creating spaces to tell our stories to each other. For him, the spaces where two people ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask of each other are sacred. Listening, he’s learned, is an act of love. Eliciting and capturing our stories is a way of insisting that every life matters.

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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.

March 20, 2014

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