On Being Blog

Jason Anthony Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 07:24

In this third essay from a four-part meditation on the interior emptiness of the East Antarctic ice cap, the author and explorer navigates the inner life, an elusive and meandering journey, as he contemplates the solipsistic continent.

Jason Anthony Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 17:28

The second of a four-part meditation on the interior emptiness of the East Antarctic ice cap. In "Absence," a reflection on how emptiness feeds a strange beauty, an oblivion of white.

Jason Anthony Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 06:00

The first of a four-part meditation on the interior emptiness of the East Antarctic ice cap. In "Arrival, the author explores the dance between ice and idea, wondering how the ice cap "challenges our notions of place and self."

Trent Gilliss Friday, April 25, 2014 - 18:07

The tenth of the great British philosopher's list of rules for living and learning. This time, on envying others.

Trent Gilliss Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 06:14

The beloved German theologian offers these words of encouragement (and admonishment) on the sacred duty of listening.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 06:30

When we live behind a mask, how do we connect and establish trust with one another? Parker Palmer on reclaiming our identity and integrity.

Mariah Helgeson Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 15:04

A compilation of tweets from our conversation on the legacy of Gershom Scholem. It overflows with gems of wisdom you'll be glad you read!

Trent Gilliss Monday, April 21, 2014 - 20:51

This week held many surprises, including a lovely take on the story of Mary Magdalene, our first live event in our new studios, a scene from the Boston Public Library, and chopping wood with, yes, a Finnish axe.

Mariah Helgeson Monday, April 21, 2014 - 06:57

A letter from beloved children's author on living out your joy, in whatever form it takes.

Brittany Deininger Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 06:13

What in our lives can be unraveled? A poem and a reflection on the raising of Lazarus and the miracle after the miracle of the Easter story.

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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.