Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal offers a rare glimpse into the life of a brilliant writer, colored by doubt and uncertainty, preoccupied with both magnificent grace and the mundane absurdity of everyday life.
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.
A daughter reflects on the quiet, unassuming ways of her father — and how being "rooted in the physical" helps her and her son connect without the use of words or a faith in something larger than what's in front of them.
In our increasingly secular lives, we find ways to get at a purer distillation of who we are at the broken center of ourselves. A meditation on paying attention and finding prayer in quiet places and through unlikely sources.
From Kabbalah to comfort, curiosity to a prayer from the Prophet Muhammad. Our roundup of ideas and stories at On Being this week.
The word "selah" in the biblical Psalms helps one woman reflect and listen to the song before her — whether in verse or in place.
The documentary Rites of Passage by Jeff Roy follows a 42-year-old practicing Muslim and Indian transgender to Bangkok for gender reassignment surgery and puts her Islamic faith and ethnic identity at the center of the journey.
by Emily Frost, guest contributor
When Jeff Roy first met Maya Jafer in Los Angeles, he had prepared a long list of questions. But he barely got in one; Jafer had finally found someone with whom she could share her story.
Ms. Jafer, a 42-year-old transgender woman and a practicing Muslim from India, spent the next hours detailing a cultural and religious background that never accepted her and describes a personal journey full of upheaval. Mr. Roy, who had never made a film, decided Jafer’s story needed to be told.
Acknowledging a spiritual dimension may have more positive effects on physical and mental health than most people realize.
“Contemplation” (photo: Kasia/Flickr cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
Ash Wednesday is today, inaugurating this year’s season of Lent. Cultural customs dictate “giving something up” for Lent. Without any meaningful or theological reflection, it becomes “giving up for the sake of giving up,” as though the mere act is enough. Is there more to it than just giving us something to talk about and a way to feel good about ourselves?
We receive quite a few responses from people who are spurred to create or make something, to act or make a decision after listening to one of our shows. Renee Yates, a woman with multiple degrees in advertising, marketing, and theology living in Evanston, Illinois, wrote this poem “after listening to Ms. Tippett’s interview with the Dalai Lama”:
by Pádraig Ó Tuama, guest contributor
"The show is a potential gateway for Americans to see the stunning diversity within a faith that is often portrayed negatively." Guest contributor Marwa Helal reviews TLC's now cancelled-docuseries.
A story of learning and friendship and circles of learning in which each person is a teacher — of learning how to live with death and learning how to live.
Photo by Katie Harris/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0
Don’t worry. The article you are about to read has nothing to do with what you should or shouldn’t put on your Thanksgiving dinner plate. There’s nothing worse than having your hopes for the perfect holiday meal dashed by someone telling you that you might want to think twice before choosing this or that side dish.
No, this article is about the undeniable health benefits of thanksgiving — that is, the conscious expression of gratitude — itself.
Gratitude is extolled by every religion on earth as an essential virtue. Cicero, the renowned Roman orator, called it “not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Only recently, however, have medical researchers begun delving into the impact gratitude has on our mental and physical health.
"We praise you for the oceans and for the fresh streams, for the endless mountains, the trees, the grass under our feet. We praise you for our senses, to be able to see the moving splendour, to hear the songs of lovers, to smell the beautiful fragrance of the spring flowers."
A family prayer written by the great theologian for Thanksgiving remains as beautiful and poignant today as it did a nearly 100 years ago.
During the month before the High Holy Days, it's Jewish tradition to read Psalm 27, writes our guest contributor. She reflects on turning inward and the struggle of preparing for quiet reflection.
Photo by Aftab Uzzaman/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. Most of us remember that day and what we were doing around nine o’clock that morning. (I was at the veterinarian’s office; we had just gotten a puppy the Saturday before).
September 11, 2011 is a Sunday. For those of us who will be in church that morning — in the pulpit or the pew — there’s an expectation that something important must be said; that appropriate ritual solemnity must be observed; that meaning, in some form or fashion, must be made.
In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.
But first a little background…
photo: C. Jill Reed/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
In honor of the 60th National Day of Prayer today, I thought it fitting to share a bit about what prayer means to me.
Most recently I’ve been thinking of prayer as an unmistakable reminder from God that I’m not helpless and alone in this world. These reminders come not just during moments of peaceful reflection but during even the busiest of days as I find myself appreciating qualities of God I see expressed by others — qualities such as patience, compassion, grace, wisdom, order, intelligence, and joy.
On Being has made an identity shift, expanding its scope to exploring questions about meaning, religion, ethics, and ideas. But our host Krista Tippett still asks her guests a key question during the interview about their religious or spiritual traditions in their formative years. And for a producer, it’s like watching her turn the key in the ignition.
The question always propels the guest somewhere unexpected even if, and maybe especially if, it’s a “no.” It really disarms them; you can almost hear their shoulders release and sit back a bit through the mic. Maybe they’re surprised that a radio host wants to know them as a human being and not just as a pundit or a preacher.