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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.
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Day 14 - Steven Longden: “Suited and Booted”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 5:08]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Steven LongdenOn this 14th day of Ramadan, a Mancunian who converted to Islam in 1993: Steven Longden. He tells the story of dressing up for prayers at a local mosque for one of his first Ramadans and his recollection of a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an. He also shares his own Arabic recitation.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 11 - Nicole Queen: “From Party Girl to Belonging”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 3:13]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Nicole Queen on horsebackOn this eleventh day of Ramadan, Nicole Queen, a native-born Texan who was raised Southern Baptist, speaks about the initial isolation of being a convert to Islam. While learning about the tradition, she found strength in the ideas and teachings of Yusuf Estes, a fellow Texan convert. Now in her late 20s, she is a practicing Muslim and is active in her community in Dallas. She continues to photograph and blog about Islamic subjects.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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I am asking some of you old timers, the Gen-Xers, to take a breath and see how far things have come. When we were kids our parents forced us to be doctors or engineers. When I have a kid I am going to force him/her to be a governor.
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—Abhi, blogger for Sepia Mutiny

Nikki HaleyDo cultural identity and role models have a different form between generations? I had to wonder after reading this article from The New York Times about Indians in U.S. politics. Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee for governor of South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, are both of Indian descent. They both converted to Christianity in their early 20s. Governor Jindal changed his first name from Piyush to Bobby, after the Brady Bunch character.

The reaction is mixed within the Indian community. Many are asking whether they should celebrate the increased visibility of Indian Americans within politics, or lament their conversions that mask or downplay their South Asian heritage.

But Abhi’s quote above might point to a difference in generations. It seems the younger generation of Indian Americans views their identity as diverse and more fluid. Thus, they are more willing to revel in similarities, whereas the older generation might be more rigid in their definitions of identity. What do you think? 

Shubha Bala, associate producer

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If I’m facing Andy Pettitte on the Yankees and I’m praying for a home run, and he’s praying for a strikeout, I don’t think the result is going to show who has greater faith…
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—Mike Sweeney, designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners

Hey sports fans, CNN recently compiled a dozen photos showing athletes “in prayer” and asking, "When did God become a sports fan?" The article focuses primarily on this as a Christian question, but the image of former Muslim NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (born Chris Jackson) made me more curious about how athletes of other faiths invoke God in their sport. This 2007 profile of Abdul-Rauf, "The Conversion of Chris Jackson," gives more depth to the question.

Colleen Scheck, senior producer

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Longing for Passovers and Memories Missed: Pesach 5770 (2010)

by Mary Moos, guest contributor

At Monday night’s Passover Seder we used hard-covered, bound copies of a Haggadah with a copyright date of 1923. The first user of the book — a relative or friend of our host family — had carefully inscribed his name on the inside cover.

In the many years since my conversion from Roman Catholicism to Judaism, I’ve used a variety of Haggadot but none like the one we used last night.

Some of them were faded blue, mimeographed copies, dog-eared and stained with wine and brisket gravy. Others were stapled and patched together with cracking glue and brittle cellophane that incorporated feminist interpretations. A few years ago, we enjoyed the company of a blind guest at our Seder. She used a Braille Haggadah in Hebrew. When it was her turn to read, she simultaneously translated the text into English. Amazing.

Reading from an almost 90 year-old Haggadah, with the name of the octogenarian sitting next to me written in childlike cursive on the inside cover, was an extraordinary experience. It struck me that he had been Jewish 60 years longer than I had been. It filled me with a deep longing for the Passovers and memories I’d missed. At the same time, I felt tremendous gratitude for the spiritual home I’d finally found.

Celebration of Passover is a biblical command for all Jews worldwide to come together as a community to singularly and collectively remember: What the Eternal One did for me when I came out from Egypt. At Passover, I am — along with the ancient Israelites enslaved in Egypt. I am with them redeemed from bondage, and I am promised the care and love the Eternal One blessed be He.

Growing up in a large observant Roman Catholic family, I often felt spiritually displaced. Praying and having a relationship with G-d was always important to me, but I struggled with how to do it within the structure of my birth-religion. The idea of Christ and His divinity got in the way of the personal relationship I wanted to have with G-d.

Holy Week was the only time I felt intimacy and safety with Christ. And then it was as a supremely saintly man who modeled how we are to have a relationship with G-d. Holy Week was the only time Christ became real. From His ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Passover dinner with His disciples, the Stations, and His death on the Cross on Good Friday, I felt comfortable with Christ.

Now that I have found my spiritual home in Judaism, I no longer struggle with Christ. I understand Christ and His teachings from a Jewish perspective. I see Him as a wise and holy Rabbi falsely accused and killed by the Romans like another of our other Jewish saints, Rabbi Akiva.

I am grateful to have found Judaism and the community to which I can belong. I am no longer in Diaspora… I am home.


Mary MoosMary Moos is a marketing consultant who runs her own company, Gordian Marketing, and is the sister of our executive producer.

We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on SOF Observed. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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