On Being Blog

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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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Thursday, March 6, 2008 - 15:16

As a response to religious intolerance following 9/11, the Brooklyn Public Library featured "Diversity of Devotion" — a photo documentary project depicting 27 religions practiced within the five boroughs of New York City. View and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - 11:36

(photo:Vitor Sá - Virgu/Flickr)

I enjoyed Nicholson Baker’s essay about Wikipedia (a warning: in his discussion of Wikipedia vandalism, he quotes some profane language) in The New York Review of Books. He notes the astonishing fact that 1500 articles are deleted from Wikipedia every day, and there are warring factions of deletionists and inclusionists battling each other all the time.

Monday, March 3, 2008 - 15:00

The response to my previous entry reminded me that we have been in pursuit of our next program on the topic of spirituality and recovery from addiction for awhile, and I don’t feel I personally am making great headway identifying the right voice(s).

There are a million stories to tell, of course, which sometimes actually makes it harder to find the one right story to hone in on. What are the stories that matter to you? Who would you interview? Who do you read on the subject? We’re truly curious to hear your thoughts.


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Latest Interviews

July 31, 2014

Yoga has infiltrated law schools and strip malls, churches and hospitals. This 5,000-year-old spiritual technology is converging with 21st-century medical science and with many religious and philosophical perspectives. Seane Corn takes us inside the practicalities and power of yoga. She describes how it helps her face the darkness in herself and the world, and how she’s come to see yoga as a form of body prayer.

July 24, 2014

Sculptural artist Dario Robleto is famous for spinning and shaping unconventional materials — from dinosaur fossils to pulverized vintage records, from swamp root to cramp bark. He joins words and objects in a way that distills meaning at once social, poetic, and scientific. He reveals how objects can become meditations on love, war, and healing.

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.

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.