guest contributor

guest contributor

April 18, 2011

by Caitlin Shetterly, guest contributor

Cait with Matty at Home in MaineCaitlin with her son at home in Maine. (photo: Dan Davis)

What is the American dream, anyway? Do any of us know anymore? Is it F. Scott Fitzgerald’s vision of a “green light” and an “orgiastic future” that forever eludes us? Is it our founding fathers’ notion that all men are created equal to pursue happiness? Is it a house with a perfect lawn, an SUV, and all the material things we could want? What I do know is that many of us in the working middle class grew up believing in the promise of “fruited plains,” ours to harvest if we worked hard enough. America was “made for you and me.”

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April 16, 2011

At Neri Bloomfield "talking about coexistence is far less important than living it."

April 11, 2011

Police Officers Carry the Coffin of Constable Ronan Kerr
Police officers carry the coffin containing the remains of Constable Ronan Kerr to the church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh, Northern Ireland on April 6, 2011. The First Minister of the British-controlled province, the Protestant Peter Robinson, broke with decades of tradition to attend his first ever Catholic mass as Constable Kerr was laid to rest. (photo: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)

While working with Holy Family Parish in North Belfast over the last few weeks, I have encountered much wisdom. One woman, Ann, quoted one of her university professors who said, “Any ideology carried to its logical conclusion is a dangerous thing.”

April 10, 2011

"We never looked at another catechism, never recited another memorized belief, but step by step we built a new spirituality for ourselves that was deeply personal and rooted in our ultimate concerns." -Jan Phillips, from her guest contribution to our blog.

April 07, 2011

As the world shrinks and technology empowers us, Jennifer Cobb says, we must not forget slavery can take many forms, including abdicating our responsibility of tikkun olam. What do you think of her assessment?

April 04, 2011

by Jill Schneiderman, guest contributor

A Page from Lauren Redniss' "Radioactivity"
A page from Lauren Redniss’ book “Radioactive.”

March 27, 2011

"Layers upon layers of perfectly manicured lawns, sparkling fountains, and pruned foliage scale the side of Mount Carmel."

March 22, 2011

A Softness Touching the Earth

Japan has been on all our minds and in all our hearts. There doesn’t seem to be enough capacity in the human soul to witness nature unleash its force on man in this way. Helplessness still sits with us even after the contributing of funds to relief efforts.

The magnitude of the disaster and continuing saga has made us all feel vulnerable to the uncertainty of life. We can’t fathom how recovery can possibly follow such devastation.

Then there’s me here in my studio just painting clouds and wondering how what I do could possibly matter. And then today I happened upon this Rilke poem after I finished the painting shown above. And the words could not be more profound and with them my painting feels right again.

Threshold of Spring
Harshness gone. All at once caring spread over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,

March 19, 2011

Hagar AdmiWhen Hagar Admi thinks about the political future of Israel, she thinks in terms of blue prints. Admi, an architecture student at the Neri Bloomfield School of Design and Education in Haifa, contests that art, specifically architecture, is inherently political.

“It’s all about society in architecture, as you plan for people,” Admi interjected at a discussion on coexistence through art, when photography and animation students explained how politics are not a factor in their work. “It’s not just art. Everything in Israel is political.”

For the Tel Aviv native, design and architecture is about planning for the future of Israel, whatever that may be. She and fellow architecture students are working on a project that directly addresses the possibility of a two-state solution.

“Designs take into account what could happen, what should happen,” said Admi.

March 18, 2011

A small group of Palestinian-Israeli demonstrators gathered Tuesday evening in Nazareth to call for the reunification of the divided Palestinian parties of Hamas and Fatah.

“We are demonstrating here to push on both parties. They must sit and reunite and confront the Israelis in politics. I’m not talking about violence,” said Mubada Gargoura, a member of the Israeli Communist Party (ICP).

The ICP and Hadash, which has four members in the 120-seat Knesset parliamentary government, organized this peaceful candlelit demonstration. It supports the evacuation of all Jewish settlements and the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees. The event was part of a larger set of coordinated demonstrations held inside the Palestinian occupied territories of Ramallah, Nablus, and Gaza.

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March 16, 2011

A nest with no babies illustrates the predicament of Israel‘s Palestinian citizens.

March 14, 2011

A family was killed Friday night. A husband, wife, and their three children died in Itamar, an ideologically driven Jewish settlement deep inside the West Bank. In response to the suspected terrorist attack, Israel approved 500 new housing units inside the occupied territory.

Peace isn’t a popular conversation topic at the moment. News of the stabbing has dominated the news here, and thousands flocked to Jerusalem Sunday for the funeral.

March 12, 2011

Editor’s note: Krista and the On Being team are in Israel this week and working with Diane Winston’s graduate students from the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism. We’ll be sharing some of these students’ reports as part of our collaboration and to add to the diversity of observations of this complex place.

March 12, 2011

Sign for the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

One day last fall, just after 3 a.m, I found myself on a country road in the high Ogden Valley near Huntsville, Utah. It was the first morning of a three-day retreat at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, a Trappist-Cistercian monastery, and I was walking the half mile from the guest house to the church for Vigils, the first of seven times each day that the monks gather to chant and pray.

March 08, 2011

This female rabbi will challenge your stereotypes of people with tattoos. A guest report from Robyn Carolyn Price of USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

March 07, 2011

Can a Qur'anic case be made for or against marijuana? A story from USC's Sharis Delgadillo.

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March 05, 2011

The story of an 8-Ball Crip and Jewish convert who served in the IDF and asked whether he "started placing the state of Israel in the position of God." A guest report from Rosalina Nieves of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

March 03, 2011

L.A. Book Club on Israeli LiteratureOnce a month, in and around Beverly Hills, a word-of-mouth club, comprised of all Israelis, meets at alternating members’ homes to discuss Hebrew literature by Israeli authors.

“It’s interesting because we all know each other so well,” says Orna Yaron, who along with her husband Meir, helped start the club and are the only remaining members of the 40 attendees of the first book club meeting in 1989. “We know each other’s political inclinations, personal and family situations. We analyze the literature, but everybody comes from his own experience. It’s like group therapy sometimes.”

February 26, 2011

A magical description of the primordial silences of people and places outside urban corridors by Taline Voskeritchian.

February 23, 2011

Israeli brothers fare well when it comes to immigration and employment

Oz and Jonathan Zilberberg
Oz and Jonathan Zilberberg (photo: Christin Davis)

In a one-bedroom condo just off Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, friends and family of the four Zilberberg brothers — immigrants to Los Angeles from their home in Israel — began arriving around 9 p.m. on a Friday. The host, Jonathan Zilberberg, 34, scrambled for a wine opener to start the traditional blessings as the two braided loaves of challah, bread for the Jewish Sabbath, wait under the customary embroidered cover.

As someone turns down The Black Eyed Peas’ most recent single, kippah head coverings are distributed to the men in preparation for prayer. With more men than kippahs, paper towels turned up at the corners suffice.

February 17, 2011

A daughter sings despite her Palestinian father's wishes and rekindles her Islamic values on her own terms. A guest contribution from USC's Jon Dillingham.

February 15, 2011

I teach at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Among my course offerings is religion coverage, an increasingly marginalized beat within a progressively problem-ridden industry.

Although religion is a key element in reporting on politics, culture, and society, cash-strapped news outlets are cutting back specialty beats to save money. Even more troublesome, legacy news jobs are fewer than ever, the news hole is shrinking, and the favored style of story telling is sensational, simplistic, and conflict-driven. Nevertheless, my goals remain the same: helping students to write clearly, think critically, and probe religion’s role in social and political trends and events.

For the last two years, I’ve pursued those goals by focusing on the fault-lines in the coverage of global religion. Using the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a starting point, I’ve asked students to find alternative frames for the conflict along with new voices to lift up and unsung stories to tell.

February 15, 2011

A Mechanic's Light
(photo: Eric Tastad/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

Last summer, soon after returning from meeting my new niece, now nearly nine months old, the check engine light on my ’98 Honda hatchback came on. We brought it in to a mechanic’s shop that we hadn’t been to before. All the men who worked there were wearing these shirts that looked like bowling uniforms to me, with the script of Import Authority dancing across their backs. I had entered another world.

When we returned to pick it up, I looked down at the receipt and saw the phrase “Diagnose: cause of light.” Once again, I had entered another world.

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February 12, 2011

Now that Pharaoh has been removed, Rose Aslan writes, the long process of cleaning up corruption and education begins — and, by the signs of it, Egypt's future couldn't look brighter.

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