On Being Blog

Mariah Helgeson Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 19:42

Inspired by Du Bois, Cory Booker reflects on the individual yearning of black men as essential to collective struggle. For him, the gift of his skin color is in allowing a better appreciation of the texture of humanity and a deeper ability to feel compassion.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 07:46

As many of us Americans approach the July 4th weekend, Parker Palmer proposes an Interdependence Day to remind us that "we're all in this together."

Mariah Helgeson Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 13:26

How do we teach our children to be aware, to question, to be tolerant, to be resilient and righteous? How do we nurture their brilliance and bravery? A photoquote from poet Elizabeth Alexander, inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois

Trent Gilliss Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 07:43

Taking you around the globe with a glimpse into oddities and joys of daily life in Oman, a gay man in New York City tells about an Oklahoma moment, a pastor reflects on gratitude and Cartesian anxiety, and an intern shows you what it take to produce the show.

Rahim Snow Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 05:17

With all the focus on fasting, a Muslim man from Atlanta tells us that the sustenance of Islam's holiest month lies in focusing on letting God in.

Martin E. Marty Monday, June 30, 2014 - 07:16

New research shows that charitable giving for religious organizations declined in the past few years. This trend, Martin Marty suggests, both reflects American’s dwindling interest in religious institutions and offers an opportunity for religious organizations to appeal to "the better angels of their nature."

Lily Percy Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 06:08

As part of the Your Audio Selfie project, the founder of I'm From Driftwood on how collecting LGBTQ stories has changed him.

Jeffrey Kaplan Friday, June 27, 2014 - 05:17

With ISIS insurgent forces moving towards Baghdad, a religious historian hears the echoes of past foreign policy missteps. And, once again, he sees Sunni and Shi’ite forces preparing for war.

Heather Christensen Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 05:25

A student of agriculture applies the lessons from permaculture to our increasingly polarized political climate. Just as there are plant guilds, she writes, we can create people guilds too.

Trent Gilliss Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - 07:22

A Russian ballerina's photos reveal the joy of dance in daily life. The Your Audio Selfie project is a hit. Haidt gives depth to the latest Pew research in the news. A mother reflects on her father's quiet presence.

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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.