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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
Have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see the similarity in numbers between the Millennials and Gen X’ers and how they self-report on daily prayer while in their 20s: two out of five pray daily.
Have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see the similarity in numbers between the Millennials and Gen X’ers and how they self-report on daily prayer while in their 20s: two out of five pray daily.

Have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see the similarity in numbers between the Millennials and Gen X’ers and how they self-report on daily prayer while in their 20s: two out of five pray daily.

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"The mundane is to be cherished."
Dig this sign in the storefront of The School of Life. Check out our interview with its founder Alain de Botton. Too much good stuff to pass up.
"The mundane is to be cherished."
Dig this sign in the storefront of The School of Life. Check out our interview with its founder Alain de Botton. Too much good stuff to pass up.

"The mundane is to be cherished."

Dig this sign in the storefront of The School of Life. Check out our interview with its founder Alain de Botton. Too much good stuff to pass up.

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Atheists and believers alike will find something useful in this conversation. I promise.

"Religion for Atheists” is Alain de Botton’s prescription for people who don’t believe, but may respect and miss experiences of faith. This cradle-atheist is dissatisfied with popular dismissals of religion, and he’s giving voice to a new way.

He says that the most boring question you can ask of any religion is whether it is true. But how to live, how to die, what is good, and what is bad — these are questions religion has sophisticated ways of addressing. And he feels that secular society has emptied public spaces of religious messaging, only to fill them with commercial proselytizing that may impoverish us morally. And so Alain de Botton has created something called The School of Life, where people young and old explore ritual, community, beauty and wisdom.

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Music and metaphysics from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. Yeah, that’s right, the Indigo Girls get down to some serious talk about God and religion, spirituality in performance and the lost art of protests songs.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber is the tattooed, Lutheran pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, a church where a chocolate fountain, a blessing of the bicycles, and serious liturgy come together. She’s a face of the Emerging Church — redefining what church is, with deep reverence for tradition:

"I think that me and my fellows are more comforted by mystery than we are by certainty and so there’s this mystery that you get to enter into in the liturgy and in the eucharist that we find very comforting to go back to again and again."

Take a listen. She will not only surprise you, but she will make you laugh out loud.

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Indian Muslim girls reciting the Qur’an in their classroom at Madrasatur-Rashaad religious school in Hyderabad. (Photo by Noah Seelam)

I just love how the photographer included the variety of backpacks in this photo. It’s what makes it special — and relatable to the Western observer who might easily focus in on the religiosity of the girls studying. I see a young schoolgirl out my front window in Minneapolis who is carrying a similar Hello Kitty bag.

~Trent Gilliss, chief content officer
Indian Muslim girls reciting the Qur’an in their classroom at Madrasatur-Rashaad religious school in Hyderabad. (Photo by Noah Seelam)

I just love how the photographer included the variety of backpacks in this photo. It’s what makes it special — and relatable to the Western observer who might easily focus in on the religiosity of the girls studying. I see a young schoolgirl out my front window in Minneapolis who is carrying a similar Hello Kitty bag.

~Trent Gilliss, chief content officer

Indian Muslim girls reciting the Qur’an in their classroom at Madrasatur-Rashaad religious school in Hyderabad. (Photo by Noah Seelam)

I just love how the photographer included the variety of backpacks in this photo. It’s what makes it special — and relatable to the Western observer who might easily focus in on the religiosity of the girls studying. I see a young schoolgirl out my front window in Minneapolis who is carrying a similar Hello Kitty bag.

~Trent Gilliss, chief content officer

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I kind of think of this interview as a show for those of us on summer holiday. As you’re driving or hiking or sailing, geomorphologist David Montgomery helps you see the world around you differently — through the lens of geology. As I was driving through the Black Hills (Paha Sapa in Lakota) of South Dakota this past week, I looked at the canted rock formations differently. And I found a deeper appreciation for the push and pull between religion and science has shaped advances in geology from the beginning.

And, if you’re looking for some good dinner table conversation, you really ought to listen to David Montgomery talk about how Noah’s Flood might actually be rooted in an historical event — of the Mediterranean rising so high that it spilt over into the valley of the Black Sea. Or, my favorite line: plate tectonics is to geology what DNA is to biology.

Montgomery tells us how the evolution of landscapes and geological processes shape ecology and humanity, and , how we should read rocks for the stories they tell about who we are and where we came from:

"Geology really is, essentially, the scientific creation story. How did it really work? What can we tell from the nature of the universe around us that would inform us in our thinking about how we got to the place we are now? I think that really is central to our sort of view of ourselves as a species, our place in the universe, as well as sort of your personal relationship to the universe. What am I doing here?"

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It is a busy time at the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul. People gather outside its walls each night to break the fast with friends and family. Ramadan is soon coming to a close. Meanwhile, this man has a lot of square footage to cover. Back and forth he goes over the crimson carpets in the mosque with his household vacuum.
Photo and text graciously submitted by Peter Speiser
It is a busy time at the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul. People gather outside its walls each night to break the fast with friends and family. Ramadan is soon coming to a close. Meanwhile, this man has a lot of square footage to cover. Back and forth he goes over the crimson carpets in the mosque with his household vacuum.
Photo and text graciously submitted by Peter Speiser

It is a busy time at the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul. People gather outside its walls each night to break the fast with friends and family. Ramadan is soon coming to a close. Meanwhile, this man has a lot of square footage to cover. Back and forth he goes over the crimson carpets in the mosque with his household vacuum.

Photo and text graciously submitted by Peter Speiser

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“A bit of advice Given to a young Native American At the time of his initiation: As you go the way of life, You will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.” ―Joseph Campbell
“A bit of advice Given to a young Native American At the time of his initiation: As you go the way of life, You will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.” ―Joseph Campbell

“A bit of advice 
Given to a young Native American 
At the time of his initiation: 
As you go the way of life, 
You will see a great chasm. Jump. 
It is not as wide as you think.” ―Joseph Campbell

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Joseph Campbell. His writings on semiotics, comparative religion and mythology (in particular ‘The Power of Myth’ and ‘The Hero With a Thousand Faces’) helped inspire the framework on which I built my character Robert Langdon. The PBS interview series with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers was hands down the most thought-provoking conversation I’ve ever witnessed. Campbell’s breadth of knowledge about the origins of religious belief enabled him to respond with clarity and logic to some very challenging questions about contradictions inherent in faith, religion, and scripture. I remember admiring Campbell’s matter-of-fact responses and wanting my own character Langdon to project that same respectful understanding when faced with complex spiritual issues.
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Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, in response to being asked about the one writer he could meet, dead or alive, during an interview for The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Of all the people he could meet, I must admit that I’m rather surprised to see it is JC.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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In the foreground, a cow. In the background, an ancient monastery in Armenia called Harichavank, not far from the closed and sometimes tense border with Turkey. The picture suggests the Armenian connection to the earth; tending animals to make cheese is not a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.
Cows are knit into daily life, not hidden outside the village for sanitary reasons. The towering roofline in the background suggests the heavenward vision of the church and the beauty of the Armenian liturgy. The church too is knit into daily life. It is typical, for example, to light candles in the sanctuary as you stroll home. The cow and the church. One without the other just wouldn’t make sense in Armenia, both sacred in their way because both give life.
Text by Pete Speiser. Photo by Anna Rudberg Speiser.
In the foreground, a cow. In the background, an ancient monastery in Armenia called Harichavank, not far from the closed and sometimes tense border with Turkey. The picture suggests the Armenian connection to the earth; tending animals to make cheese is not a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.
Cows are knit into daily life, not hidden outside the village for sanitary reasons. The towering roofline in the background suggests the heavenward vision of the church and the beauty of the Armenian liturgy. The church too is knit into daily life. It is typical, for example, to light candles in the sanctuary as you stroll home. The cow and the church. One without the other just wouldn’t make sense in Armenia, both sacred in their way because both give life.
Text by Pete Speiser. Photo by Anna Rudberg Speiser.

In the foreground, a cow. In the background, an ancient monastery in Armenia called Harichavank, not far from the closed and sometimes tense border with Turkey. The picture suggests the Armenian connection to the earth; tending animals to make cheese is not a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.

Cows are knit into daily life, not hidden outside the village for sanitary reasons. The towering roofline in the background suggests the heavenward vision of the church and the beauty of the Armenian liturgy. The church too is knit into daily life. It is typical, for example, to light candles in the sanctuary as you stroll home. The cow and the church. One without the other just wouldn’t make sense in Armenia, both sacred in their way because both give life.


Text by Pete Speiser. Photo by Anna Rudberg Speiser.

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Are we in the matrix? Physicist James Gates reveals why string theory stretches our imaginations about the nature of reality. Also, how failure makes us more complete, and imagination makes us more knowledgeable.

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While editing a commentary on the persecution and imprisonment of Baha’is within Iran, I happened upon this interview with Roxana Saberi. The American journalist, who was accused of espionage by the Iranian government, talks about the time she spent in an Iranian prison and the relationships she developed with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two of the seven Yaran (“the Friends”), who are sentenced to 20 years in prison because of their faith:

"I think the lessons that Mahvash and Fariba taught me in prison are universal. And they can apply to anybody, anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be in prison. We have our own prisons, are own adversities, and we can try to turn those adversities into opportunities."

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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This interview with poet Christian Wiman has to be one of my top 10 favorite shows. He cuts to the quick with a generosity and truthfulness rarely heard. And his penchant for remembering poetry and weaving it into life experiences with cancer, love, and death is incredible.

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A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk.



"Monk!”



He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience.



"Teach me about heaven and hell!"



The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,



"Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you."



The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly,



"That’s hell."



The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly,



"And that’s heaven."



Excerpted from Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk.



"Monk!”



He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience.



"Teach me about heaven and hell!"



The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,



"Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you."



The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly,



"That’s hell."



The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly,



"And that’s heaven."



Excerpted from Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk.

"Monk!

He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience.

"Teach me about heaven and hell!"

The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,

"Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you."

The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.

Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly,

"That’s hell."

The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.

The monk said softly,

"And that’s heaven."

Excerpted from Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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