Road Trip to On Being; Living with Contradiction + Paradox; Masterful Music from Japan; Everyday Images of Africa; Burning Man Provides Perfect Image

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 10:06am
Road Trip to On Being; Living with Contradiction + Paradox; Masterful Music from Japan; Everyday Images of Africa; Burning Man Provides Perfect Image

The best of the week — including an invitation to our studios, a lesson in the uniqueness of humans, sage words from Parker Palmer on paradox, and an arresting collection of images that captures everyday life in Africa.

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Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer for On Being
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Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it's a listener's response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it's often intriguing. If you'd like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

This Saturday is Northern Spark! At 9:01 pm, we'll kick off the dusk-to-dawn festival with Ragamala Dance's performance of "Honoring Tagore: Sacred Earth" in our space on Loring Park. Make the road trip to Minneapolis. Tickets are free, but you must RSVP! While you're there, stop in our studio and record "Your Audio Selfie."

We could also user your help. Volunteer for a two-hour shift that night and receive an exclusive not-yet-for-sale On Being t-shirt as a thank you. That's gold, non?

Despite all the universal behaviors we humans hold in common with other animals, the neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says that humans have one trait that best defines and distinguishes us from other species: the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in our head, and yet continue on in the face of it. It's one of those lectures that just sticks with you.

Credit: Eric May License: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).


And so it was a welcome surprise to read Parker Palmer's post this week. He talks about living with paradox and offers advice on creating more spaces to do so gracefully. Bonus: he includes a poem by May Sarton on the "angels and the furies" within us.

"The Church Trap" at the 2013 Burning Man Festival. An old church-shaped structure is poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ.

Credit: Mack Reed License: Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


This old, church-shaped structure was poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ at Burning Man. I found it a wonderful complement to lead Martin Marty’s commentary on how Christians exaggerate their attendance at church when talking to surveyors on the phone rather than when taking an online poll.

A masterful bit of music for your morning from Yoko Kanno and Aoi Teshima. Take a listen.

This diagram of the heart is a drawing on a wall in Kano, in northern Nigeria. So often the images of Africa we see are particular to a news event or an advocacy group. But, what about the everyday lives of the many people living on this great continent? Well, there's an Instagram account for that...

At Everyday Africa, you'll see an incredible array of images from a collective of photographers living and working in Africa. Their motive: "finding the extreme not nearly as prevalent as the familiar, the everyday."

Some words from William Sloane Coffin that are resonating with me this week:

"There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good. The bad are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics. Good patriots carry on a lover's quarrel with their country."

Words to carry into the weekend. You can always reach me by email at or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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Trent Gilliss is the driving editorial and creative force behind On Being. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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