On Being Blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 08:30

We’re currently wrapping up production on our upcoming show called Inside Mormon Faith, which will be available for download as of January 24. Our new shows are always available by the end of the day on Thursday (depending on how crazy it is here to get the show out the door).

We’re also in the midst of editing a show in which Krista interviewed Ed Husain, a British Muslim who wrote a hugely controversial book in the UK called The Islamist (which I’ll get to in a second, too, because that’s generated some interesting discussions among us).

The actual radio program for the “Mormon show” (as we refer to it) is done. That means that the process that begins with the research for Krista’s interview and ends with the final mixing of all the different audio elements, is all wrapped up. The website, another huge production, is nearing the final stages of completion.

Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 13:51

I’m confused. An immense amount of media coverage has been dedicated this past year to philanthropic organizations associated with high-power people and companies doing charitable work in a different way. Bill Clinton has argued that pharmaceutical companies can even make a fair margin off of cheap drugs to developing countries in Africa.

Does corporate social responsibility lead to greater profitability for a company’s shareholders? An article in The Harvard Business Review debunks the idea and determines that there is “a very small correlation between corporate behavior and good financial results.”

Friday, January 18, 2008 - 09:25

In a recent Sightings newsletter, the regular distribution from the Martin Marty Center at University of Chicago divinity school, Marty wrote about the religion statistics as reported by the World Christian Database.  Among their findings are the following figures on Christians across the world.

“Roman Catholics” claim 1,130,401,000…The 422,659,000 “Independents” outnumber 386,644,000 “Protestants” and 252,891,000 “Orthodox” and the rest.

Friday, January 18, 2008 - 07:07

Cary Tennis, the smart, poetic, intelligent advice columnist for Salon, dispenses some of his usual brilliance to a teenager who seems to be outgrowing (subscription required, or free to view after ads) the faith and/or views of her parents.

The danger of teaching a child only one absolute and inviolable set of rules is that when the child meets contradictions she has no way to integrate those contradictions into her world. Integrating your direct experiences into your world of faith requires nuance. When your experience seems to contradict what you have been taught, you have to move beyond the literal and toward the metaphorical and the subjective. In a world of absolutes, those words may sound like the devil’s words. But they represent experience as we know it, not as we wish it were so. Meeting apparent contradiction also spurs growth. But grow carefully.


Friday, January 18, 2008 - 03:04

The List Universe assembles all types of “top 15” lists. Well, they’ve started a series on religious and atheist thinkers. I couldn’t help note the contrast in quotes from the great 13th-century philosopher Thomas Aquinas:

“Wonder is the desire for knowledge.”

and one of America’s great 20th-century writers, Ernest Hemingway:

“All thinking men are atheists.”


Thursday, January 17, 2008 - 10:25
Monday, January 14, 2008 - 12:59

I’m conducting a tiny experiment: reading back-to-back biographies of Muhammad based on free books we got here at SoF: Tariq Ramadan’s In The Footsteps of the Prophet, and Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time.


Monday, January 14, 2008 - 12:16

In the New York Times Magazine, renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker looks at the possible biological underpinnings to the human concept of morality. The wonderful public radio show Radio Lab also explored this issue a while back in one of their episodes.


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Latest Interviews

July 17, 2014

Sixteen Muslims, in their own words, speak about the delights and gravity of Islam's holiest month. Through vivid memories and light-hearted musings, they reveal the richness of Ramadan — as a period of intimacy, and of parties; of getting up when the world is quiet for breakfast and prayers with one's family; of breaking the fast every day after nightfall in celebration and prayers with friends and strangers.

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.

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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.

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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.

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