On Being Blog

Trent Gilliss Monday, March 31, 2014 - 10:14

This week inspired a lesson from Ralph Waldo Emerson, a poetic reflection on being more than doing from Parker Palmer, a precious moment that will make you smile, and a peculiar story about a lockpicker that will make you think.

Mariah Helgeson Friday, March 28, 2014 - 05:59

A revered writer and a sand artist remind us the greatest adventures happen when we let go of ourselves and proceed into the unknown.

Betty M. Bayer Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 05:34

Has the word grace fallen out of favor? Anna Deavere Smith’s Conversations on Grace offers a way for us to think of grace as a pluralistic universe and a guide for all of us on the art of dwelling here together, in the polis.

Parker J. Palmer Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 05:00

In our busy lives, a reminder from Parker Palmer that what matters most is not our ability to produce but our ability to love, and to just be. With a poem by Lynn Ungar.

Trent Gilliss Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 09:00

This week provided some sage words on writing from Parker Palmer, a photo essay on "thin places" that take our breath away, a marvelous TED talk from a Nigerian writer, and a picture of the cosmos that stirs our origins.

Mariah Helgeson Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 23:00

How can we learn to offer feedback with grace and compassion at work and at home? Brené Brown offers a rubric for offering guidance and sitting on the same side of the table.

Mariah Helgeson Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 10:34

We live-tweeted our interview with the founder of StoryCorps. The takeaway? Some real gems from a life spent listening to and recording others.

Parker J. Palmer Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 16:59

The Quaker elder offers this poetic reminder on trusting that the writing process itself will help you dig into your bafflement.

Sarah Blanton Monday, March 17, 2014 - 15:00

A photo essay contemplating the Celtic concept of thin places, spaces where the veil between visible and invisible worlds are lifted — all from a quiet lake nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee.

Trent Gilliss Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 06:29

On the first anniversary of Pope Francis' election, James Martin explains how the pope's ministry has been shaped by his Jesuit identity — including the three degrees of humility.

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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.