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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.
As I look around, I see the crumbling ruins of civilization like a vast heap of futility, yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in man.
- Rabindranath Tagore, as quoted in this show on his life and modern resonance.
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You might say that God made us in his own mysterious image — mysterious not like human riddles and conundrums, but in our capacity to energetically participate in the creative, existential mystery of whatever the world is up to with us. At the eye of the storm we can know peace, strength, and a faith that passes understanding, finding ourselves at home with true mystery.

— Paul Martin, from Revelation in the Whirlwind of Existence.
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

You might say that God made us in his own mysterious image — mysterious not like human riddles and conundrums, but in our capacity to energetically participate in the creative, existential mystery of whatever the world is up to with us. At the eye of the storm we can know peace, strength, and a faith that passes understanding, finding ourselves at home with true mystery.

— Paul Martin, from Revelation in the Whirlwind of Existence.
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

You might say that God made us in his own mysterious image — mysterious not like human riddles and conundrums, but in our capacity to energetically participate in the creative, existential mystery of whatever the world is up to with us. At the eye of the storm we can know peace, strength, and a faith that passes understanding, finding ourselves at home with true mystery.

— Paul Martin, from Revelation in the Whirlwind of Existence.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true, or beautiful, or good, makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.
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Reinhold Niebuhr, from The Irony of American History

If you’ve never heard about this major American public figure, you should listen to this: "Moral Man and Immoral Society".

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"We are indebted to one another, and the debt is a kind of faith, a beautiful, difficult, strange faith. We believe each other into being."
~Jennifer Michael Hecht
(Photo by Gali Tibbon/AFP/GettyImages)
"We are indebted to one another, and the debt is a kind of faith, a beautiful, difficult, strange faith. We believe each other into being."
~Jennifer Michael Hecht
(Photo by Gali Tibbon/AFP/GettyImages)

"We are indebted to one another, and the debt is a kind of faith, a beautiful, difficult, strange faith. We believe each other into being."

~Jennifer Michael Hecht

(Photo by Gali Tibbon/AFP/GettyImages)

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I see my identity as deeply tied to a family. I’m very deeply Jewish. My mannerisms, whatever it may be, I mean, I was brought up with Jewish music, my father, he was very poor, but he celebrated the Shabbat with joy. So I have deep memories, Jewishly. So I have never had the desire to leave. I had the desire that it should be better, so my criticism grows from love. It’s like I was once told, don’t be critical as your mother-in-law who enjoys to find out things that are lacking in you [laughs], but be critical out of compassion, out of real love for what you think the people could be. And as I suffered that, because on one level I want to feel empathy, intimacy, with these people with its history, with its longing, and I know its vulnerabilities, its weaknesses, its psychological problems of wanting to be loved.
- ~Rabbi David Hartman from "Hope in a Hopeless God"
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If the law doesn’t point to a God, then what is it all about?
- ~Rabbi David Hartman from "Hope in a Hopeless God"
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“You quickly learn that distractions are not just phone calls and emails. Our own mind and our longings, our cravings and our fantasies are also major distractions.”

Pema Chödrön is one of a few people that I’ve been pitching to be on the show for years. In this Bill Moyers’ interview from 2006, she makes a strong case for quieting our racing minds — and the value of powering down our electronic devices.

And, of course, she recommends meditation as a way of quieting and reopening the mind. The way she describes the process, though, makes one feel as if it’s a severe drug addiction. One I identify with all too well.

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The religious experience as I have known it seems to swing wide the door not merely into life but into lives. I am confident that my own call to the religious vocation cannot be separated from the slowly emerging disclosure that my religious experience makes it possible for me to experience myself as a human being and thus keep a very real psychological distance between myself and the hostilities of my environment. Through the years it has driven me more and more to seek to make it as a normal part of my relations with men, the experiencing of them as human beings. When this happens, love has essential materials with which to work. And, contrary to the general religious teaching, men would not need to stretch themselves out of shape in order to love. On the contrary, a man comes into possession of himself more completely when he’s free to love another.
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Howard Thurman from The Luminous Darkness

Krista Tippett quoted this during her interview with Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Rev. Lucas Johnson. It didn’t make the final cut for the hour of radio, but it’s too good not to share.

~Trent Gilliss, head of content

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As more media outlets produce stories about me, a few points of clarification:

* I did a LOT of drugs, but I am not a drug addict. I’m an alcoholic. Booze was my undoing.
* I swear a lot, but have never dropped an F bomb in a sermon
* I did not live in a commune…I just had a lot of roommates.
* I have never said “God doesn’t have any answers” I said that we go to God for answers, but sometimes what we get is God’s presence.
* Yes, a couple times this year I have competed in Olympic-Style Weightlifting. But calling me a “competitive weightlifter” seems a stretch.

All of this has made me wonder how many times I drew conclusions or made judgements about someone I read about in the media based solely on exaggerated statements by the media outlet.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber

If you haven’t heard this countercultural, tatted up Lutheran pastor talk about God, faith, and life, then you really ought to listen to this On Being episode, "Seeing the Underside and Seeing God."

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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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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 Nigerian Easter in the Midwest

Woman in Gele, Iro, and Buba

From the front door she calls, “He has risen!” Her children respond, “He has risen indeed. Let’s eat!”

I dodged church Easter Sunday this year. My mother Gbeme, however, worshipped at the Baptist church she’s been attending twice weekly for the past 20 years.

Raised Catholic in Nigeria, my mother’s Easter begins the seasonal swap from heavy wools to floral prints and pastels. She wears a beautifully vibrant gele — an intricately fashioned tie around the head worn by Yoruba women — and iro and buba — the matching outfit traditionally worn by Yoruba women — to church. She exchanges compliments with the other congregants about their upbeat clothes and steady health. For two hours the pews fill, the choir sings, and for the larger Easter crowd, the young new pastor delivers an especially rousing sermon. Soon thereafter, church dismisses. Time to eat.

For many Americans, Easter is synonymous with the egg. But in my bicultural household, Map of Yoruba and Igbo Peoplecreamy frejon is the signature Easter week delicacy. The bean soup is made of smoothly blended brown beans called ewa ibeji and steeped coconut, then sweetened with cane sugar to taste.

In the mid-1980s, my mother left metropolitan Lagos to attend college in rural Wisconsin — and made necessary modifications to the original frejon recipe. Back then international foods weren’t as integrated. In lieu of traditional Nigerian dishes, my mother observed her first few Easters amid sweet friends, sweet rolls, egg salad, and hearty Midwestern casseroles. After she graduated, she moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota, reuniting her with city dwelling, a dense Nigerian immigrant community, specialty grocers, and Easter frejon.

Read more of Caroline Joseph’s essay on Yoruban Catholic tradition.

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Crosses, crescents, and stars on the National Mall in Washington, DC to commemorate victims of gun violence since Newtown.
(h/t to Tiffany Stanley)
Crosses, crescents, and stars on the National Mall in Washington, DC to commemorate victims of gun violence since Newtown.
(h/t to Tiffany Stanley)

Crosses, crescents, and stars on the National Mall in Washington, DC to commemorate victims of gun violence since Newtown.

(h/t to Tiffany Stanley)

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Aztlan, Anew: U.S. Latinos Leave Catholic Church to Seek Ancestral Heritage

Dancing ShoesPhoto by Shweta Saraswat

"What we’re doing is praying with our feet, with our bodies."

Centzi Millia, a 31-year-old Aztec dance instructor prepares for an afternoon class, wrapping her long blonde dreads into a bun and gathering small children into a circle. “We honor the Mother Earth with our bare feet, and the vibrations we create — the Mother Earth as a living being feels those vibrations.”

The dance starts in a flurry of drum beats and the bass jangling of Ms. Millia’s chachayotl, the thick anklets of Aztec danzantes made of rattling seed pods.

"It was actually at Knott’s Berry Farm, of all places, that I discovered the danza,” Ms. Millia says after class, sitting in the sunlight of Kuruvunga Springs, a remnant site of the ancient Tongva people nestled between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire. “My parents would say those were the dances our people used to do, but that’s as far as they would tell me.”

Eighteen years later, Ms. Millia is one of several Aztec dance teachers in Southern California. A child of Mexican immigrants, she represents part of a trend among Latinos in the U.S. who are shifting away from the Roman Catholic Church. Though the Church still holds sway among new immigrants from Latin America, the children of these immigrants have been turning toward forms of Protestantism or are choosing not to affiliate with any type of religion.

However, Ms. Millia and some of her second- and third-generation peers raised in traditional Catholic households have left the Church not to follow any alternate form of Christianity or atheism, but to pursue the spiritual paths of their pre-Christian ancestors. As she pursued dance, Ms. Millia’s elders taught her how it was reshaped and used as a tool by Spanish conquerors to lure the local people away from their native, or indigenous, beliefs and toward Catholicism.

Instead of dancing for Mother Earth, Ms. Millia says that dances became offerings to the Virgin Mary. The special days of celebration for the native people became Catholic holidays. These kinds of revelations pushed her away from the church.

Read more of “Aztlan, Anew: U.S. Latinos Leave Catholic Church to Seek Ancestral Heritage” by Shweta Saraswat.

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Krista Tippett interviews civil rights legend and Congressman John Lewis in Montgomery, Alabama during the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Amazing man!

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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