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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.
Just love this excerpt from one of our guest contributors:

Whether that human nature be made perfect in belief of the Incarnation (in Christianity) or sincere submission to God (in Islam), we learn that this perfection is made complete with the body: with God dwelling in the flesh or with us physically prostrating. Spirituality is not just a practice of the spirit. It must engage our whole being and whole becoming. It’s not about leaving our sexuality or gender identity in the dark, undeveloped, only there as an enemy. It’s about acceptance, authentic self, and becoming better people as whole human individuals, sexual orientation included; that is, we see the possibility for goodness in it and strive for that.

The full piece is worth a read: Orthodoxy, Queer Identity, and the Need for Meaning. 
Just love this excerpt from one of our guest contributors:

Whether that human nature be made perfect in belief of the Incarnation (in Christianity) or sincere submission to God (in Islam), we learn that this perfection is made complete with the body: with God dwelling in the flesh or with us physically prostrating. Spirituality is not just a practice of the spirit. It must engage our whole being and whole becoming. It’s not about leaving our sexuality or gender identity in the dark, undeveloped, only there as an enemy. It’s about acceptance, authentic self, and becoming better people as whole human individuals, sexual orientation included; that is, we see the possibility for goodness in it and strive for that.

The full piece is worth a read: Orthodoxy, Queer Identity, and the Need for Meaning. 

Just love this excerpt from one of our guest contributors:

Whether that human nature be made perfect in belief of the Incarnation (in Christianity) or sincere submission to God (in Islam), we learn that this perfection is made complete with the body: with God dwelling in the flesh or with us physically prostrating. Spirituality is not just a practice of the spirit. It must engage our whole being and whole becoming. It’s not about leaving our sexuality or gender identity in the dark, undeveloped, only there as an enemy. It’s about acceptance, authentic self, and becoming better people as whole human individuals, sexual orientation included; that is, we see the possibility for goodness in it and strive for that.

The full piece is worth a read: Orthodoxy, Queer Identity, and the Need for Meaning

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I think that slogan has been meant to serve and I think is serving a very important aspect of our attempt to get at humanity. You are challenging the very deep roots of the Black man’s belief about himself. When you say ‘black is beautiful’ what in fact you are saying to him is: man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being. … So in a sense the term ‘black is beautiful’ challenges exactly that belief which makes someone negate himself.
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Steve Biko, from his book I Write What I Like

Vigil in memoriamSteve Biko founded the Black Consciousness Movement as a student leader. He was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 70s, and became a martyr for the movement after dying in police custody in 1977.

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu spoke in memory of Biko in 2006:

"That is what Steve diagnosed in us as our illness and black consciousness was meant to exorcise this demon, to make us realise that as he said, we were human and not inferior as the white person was human and not superior. I internalised what others had decided was to be my identity, not my God-given utterly precious and unique me."

Former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki said of Biko in 2007:

"Steve Biko understood that to attain our freedom we had to rebel against the notion that we are a problem, that we should no longer merely cry out -Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?, that we should stop looking at ourselves through the eyes of others, and measuring our souls by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

Musician Peter Gabriel wrote a tribute in a song titled “Biko”:

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko,
because Biko Yihla Moja,
Yihla Moja - The man is dead

South African supporters hold a vigil in honor of the anniversary of Biko’s death. (photo: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images)

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Patriarchy’s Persistent Bastion? Religion

by Felice Lifshitz, guest contributor

Women Inside and Outside of ChurchA woman tends to a child during a Sacrament Meeting of the Washington DC 3rd Ward at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Chevy Chase, Maryland. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

In the March 8 Washington Post article "Feminism’s Final Frontier? Religion," Lisa Miller predicted that American women would soon abandon the Republican party in droves, just as they are reportedly quitting conservative Christian churches in historically large numbers. In both cases, women’s disaffection appears to be fueled by the disrespect shown to them by male leaders, a disrespect revealed in the ecclesiastical sphere by evangelical minister Jim Henderson’s new book, The Resignation of Eve, and visible in the political sphere to anyone who has followed the recent debates over access to birth control.

As “the men of the right” (as Miller calls them) insult women of faith, many of the latter are rejecting the communities that demean them, and creating leadership roles for themselves elsewhere. She suggests that a similar dynamic will soon govern American party politics. However, the implications of the current situation may not be that clear-cut, religiously or politically.

Miller believes women’s disaffection to be a new phenomenon, spurred by the incongruities between a newfound economic independence and an old-fashioned gender hierarchy:

"In churches (and synagogues and mosques) across the land, women are still treated as second-class citizens. And because women of faith are increasingly breadwinners, single moms and heads of households, that diminished status is beginning to rankle” (emphasis mine).

The assumption that previous generations of women of faith uniformly accepted an inferior position, that is, that religion constitutes “feminism’s final frontier,” leads the author to predict a major break with the patriarchal past due to a novel combination of propitious circumstances and female aspirations. But the “resignation” described by Henderson is not a new departure potentially signaling a major break with tradition; rather, it is the latest permutation of the gender conflict that has been part and parcel of the Christian tradition from earliest times.

Indeed, the struggle over gender and spiritual authority set in early enough to affect the canon of the New Testament. Many women supported Paul, the greatest early Christian missionary, including Prisca (Priscilla), who was instrumental in the apostle’s successes at Corinth and Ephesus, and whom he ordained as a congregational leader along with her husband Aquila (Acts 18). Yet, misogynistic editors of biblical manuscripts successfully obscured Paul’s respect for female religious leaders by falsely attributing to him — either through misplaced punctuation or outright interpolation — the sentiment that women should be silent in churches (1 Cor. 14:33-36).

Nevertheless, women persisted by, among other things, writing or supporting the composition of egalitarian texts, founding and governing monastic communities, pressing the liberationist claims of virginal feminism, exercising a number of liturgical (at times sacerdotal) functions, articulating a whole range of new theologies (including feminine theologies of the godhead), and establishing innumerable beguine communities that were absolutely independent of male ecclesiastical authority. In sum, women consistently found ways to control their own religious destinies and to assume leadership roles within Christian contexts, including during the European Middle Ages, a period popularly (albeit erroneously) conceived as particularly repressive of women. Yet, none of these activities ever fully erased the persistent commitment to gender hierarchy cherished by the “men of the right” whose values have determined the character of most mainstream hegemonic institutions.

Christianity has consistently been open to pro-feminist movements, but this has resulted neither in a fundamental egalitarian transformation of Christian institutions, nor in a mass exodus of disaffected women. The current wave of “resignations” fits squarely into a 2000-year-old tradition of tension over gender and spiritual authority; if proponents of patriarchal forms of religious organization do not feel particularly threatened by the alarm bells Henderson has rung for them, it is because historical precedent encourages complacency on their part. After all, their predecessors always managed to hold on to power.

"The men of the right" have found, in every generation, a substantial number of Christian women who considered the limited roles and secondary status allotted to them to be quite comfortable. It is certainly easier to execute simple, circumscribed tasks such as meal preparation than to shoulder the responsibility for major policy decisions. But every generation has also witnessed rebellion and discontent.

Today’s feminists of faith can draw on a rich heritage to stake out positions that might ultimately justify both Henderson’s warnings and Miller’s optimism. Success may well depend precisely on an awareness of that inspirational heritage. A radical egalitarian transformation will require an unprecedented struggle; it will not be the inevitable result of the rise of the female breadwinner.


Felicity LifshitzFelice Lifshitz earned a PhD in History from Columbia University and currently teaches in the Program in Women’s Studies at the University of Alberta. She has published numerous books, articles, and essay collections concerning medieval Christianity.

This essay is reprinted with permission of Sightings from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School. We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry and contribute a deeper understanding of the world around us.

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The Damage of Apartheid on Desmond Tutu’s Psyche

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

During our interview a few months before he retired in 2010, the Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu shared this heart-wrenching story of flying on a plane out of Lagos, Nigeria. As he boarded the plane, he was beaming with pride, he says, when he saw two black pilots shepherding the plane. While in the air, the plane experienced some bitter turbulence, and at that moment he admits:

"The first thought that came to my mind was ‘Hey, there’s no white men in that cockpit. Are those blacks going to be able to make it?’

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu is a pivotal figure in helping galvanize South Africa’s improbable and peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy in the 1990s. And he’s been an active participant ever since in the country’s developing story ever since. Despite all the discussions and Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, he helps us realize that the amount of damage done to black South Africans’ psyches is deep-seated. A sober reminder that history is present in incalculable ways.

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"Each person must live their life as a model for others." ~Rosa Parks
Photo courtesy of WI Historical Images (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)
"Each person must live their life as a model for others." ~Rosa Parks
Photo courtesy of WI Historical Images (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)

"Each person must live their life as a model for others." ~Rosa Parks

Photo courtesy of WI Historical Images (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)

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History made at a segregated lunch counter in February 1960.
Photo by Ed Siasoco. (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)
History made at a segregated lunch counter in February 1960.
Photo by Ed Siasoco. (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)

History made at a segregated lunch counter in February 1960.

Photo by Ed Siasoco. (Follow “onbeing” on instagram)

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Until religious people understand the spirit of the Word, especially the nature of unconditional love, they are trapped in an ethical prison. In the meantime, people can use Scripture to support any opinion. Why bother? Why not just go directly to what is right?
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Shepherd Hoodwin, in response to Krista’s recent interview with Richard Mouw in “Restoring Political Civility.”

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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