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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.

There is little doubt that the news media amplify and exacerbate social and political divisions. Too often, journalists follow a ‘Noah’s Ark’ approach to coverage in which a strong liberal is paired with a vocal conservative in an ideological food fight. The result is polarization of discourse and ‘false equivalence’ in reporting. This lack of nuanced analysis confuses viewers and makes it difficult for them to sort out the contrasting facts and opinions. People get the sense that there are only two policy options and that there are few gradations or complexities in the positions that are reported.
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From the Brookings report, "Nudging News Producers and Consumers Toward More Thoughtful, Less Polarized Discourse," by Darrell West and Beth Stone. A worthy read.

This is a tension we’ve experienced first-hand when programming live events for The Civil Conversations Project. We’ve been questioned by producers and journalists in public radio news rooms about our guest choices for conversations on gay marriage and abortion. But, there have also been some really wonderful advocates, newsroom managers like Chris Worthington of Minnesota Public Radio too.

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Stunning photo via the thepoliticalnotebook:

From The Guardian's features picture editor's picks of photos that defined 2013… a portrait by Sebastian Tomado of Fadwa, a 20-year-old fighter, widow and mother of three in Aleppo, Syria.
Photo Credit: Sebastiano Tomado/Rex

Stunning photo via the thepoliticalnotebook:

From The Guardian's features picture editor's picks of photos that defined 2013… a portrait by Sebastian Tomado of Fadwa, a 20-year-old fighter, widow and mother of three in Aleppo, Syria.

Photo Credit: Sebastiano Tomado/Rex

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Veterans Day Parade on Woodward Avenue

For Rachel Button, who hails from metro Detroit but now lives in the state of Washington’s North Cascade Mountains, images of a Veterans Day parade on Woodward Avenue in Detroit remind her of the march that often goes unacknowledged. Specifically, Eric Seals photographs for the Detroit Free Press inspired her to write this poem:

You wanted the poor and tired huddled masses—
the slack-jawed and stubbled—
but we march alone on Woodward
uniforms stiff on our still-broad shoulders,

The Free Press took pictures.
Photos of men,
mostly men,
marching a street edged by empty sidewalks,
black men and white men
some of us in leather and flannel
others in uniforms which trim our bodies
into silhouettes framed by brass buttons.

Imagine the hands at our sides:
wrinkled, smooth, freckled, gloved—
scarred by cuts and burns, scrapes and time—
hands that held babies,
hands that held our heads when loneliness
felt too heavy to hold on our necks.

We bend into cold with something like pride
not for the battles we fought,
but because we’re still standing, walking, moving,
together, slapping our shoes on Woodward,
standing straight, even if not one soul watches.

For an engaging and informative read, I highly recommend John Carlisle’s columnaccompanying Mr. Seals photos.

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We ought to see more photos like this in the news. They are out there.

An Afghan nomad kisses his young daughter while watching his herd in Marjah, Helmand province, on October 20, 2012
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

We ought to see more photos like this in the news. They are out there.

An Afghan nomad kisses his young daughter while watching his herd in Marjah, Helmand province, on October 20, 2012

AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

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For as far back as Joy Ladin can remember, her body didn’t match her soul. Gender defines us from the moment we’re born. But, how is that related to the lifelong work of being at home in ourselves? You’ve got to check out our show this week, "Gender and the Syntax of Being." Krista’s interview with her explores this question through Joy’s story of transition from male to female — as a poet, as a parent, and as a the first openly transgender woman teaching in an Orthodox Jewish world.

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

Aztec dance instructor Centzi Millia wears chachayotl, the thick anklets of Aztec danzantes made of rattling seed pods during a class. She’s part of a new movement of Catholic Latinos in the U.S. who are turning to the spiritual practices of their indigenous ancestors, such as the Aztecs and other ancient traditions, and finding “a mestizo way of life.”
Read more of Shweta Saraswat’s article, “Aztlan, Anew,” which gives you a glimpse of what’s going on in your neighboring communities that you might not even be aware of.

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

Aztec dance instructor Centzi Millia wears chachayotl, the thick anklets of Aztec danzantes made of rattling seed pods during a class. She’s part of a new movement of Catholic Latinos in the U.S. who are turning to the spiritual practices of their indigenous ancestors, such as the Aztecs and other ancient traditions, and finding “a mestizo way of life.”

Read more of Shweta Saraswat’s article, “Aztlan, Anew,” which gives you a glimpse of what’s going on in your neighboring communities that you might not even be aware of.

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"I hope the conclave will not go on too long. All I know is that I’m just taking in a small ‘carry-on’ piece of baggage. If we’re in there too long, and if they show photographs of St. Martha’s from outside Vatican City, my room will be the one with the laundry hanging in the window to dry!"
~Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, from his blog
Today, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals attended the Mass for the election of a new pope. The cardinals then entered into conclave while singing “Veni Creator Spiritus,” a Christian hymn invoking the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Photo by George Martell, licensed under Creative Commons (BY-ND 2.0)

"I hope the conclave will not go on too long. All I know is that I’m just taking in a small ‘carry-on’ piece of baggage. If we’re in there too long, and if they show photographs of St. Martha’s from outside Vatican City, my room will be the one with the laundry hanging in the window to dry!"

~Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, from his blog

Today, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals attended the Mass for the election of a new pope. The cardinals then entered into conclave while singing “Veni Creator Spiritus,” a Christian hymn invoking the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Photo by George Martell, licensed under Creative Commons (BY-ND 2.0)

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Bracketology at its best. Who’s going to start a pool on The Sweet Sistine? Much respect to David Gibson, Daniel Burke, and David Herrera at Religion News Service for this light-hearted take on the papal conclave:

More than 100 Roman Catholic cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel in March. One will emerge as pope. Who will it be? The “Sweet Sistine” is our guess at the top candidates from each continent.
You can vote below for who you think would move on to the next round in each matchup. First-round voting closes at midnight Eastern on Friday (March 1).

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Bracketology at its best. Who’s going to start a pool on The Sweet Sistine? Much respect to David Gibson, Daniel Burke, and David Herrera at Religion News Service for this light-hearted take on the papal conclave:

More than 100 Roman Catholic cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel in March. One will emerge as pope. Who will it be? The “Sweet Sistine” is our guess at the top candidates from each continent.

You can vote below for who you think would move on to the next round in each matchup. First-round voting closes at midnight Eastern on Friday (March 1).

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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I chose this photo of Pope Benedict XVI from 2008 to head Mary Jo McConohay’s insightful commentary and analysis, "La Sorpresa: The Papal Resignation, in the Latin American Eye." 
Is Latin America the future of the Roman Catholic Church, or will the home to liberation theology be relegated to the sidelines when the next pope is chosen?


"Half of the cardinals who will vote are from Europe, but only a quarter of Catholics live there. Whoever is elected, dramatic church changes do not appear imminent."


 ~Trent Gilliss

I chose this photo of Pope Benedict XVI from 2008 to head Mary Jo McConohay’s insightful commentary and analysis, "La Sorpresa: The Papal Resignation, in the Latin American Eye." 

Is Latin America the future of the Roman Catholic Church, or will the home to liberation theology be relegated to the sidelines when the next pope is chosen?

"Half of the cardinals who will vote are from Europe, but only a quarter of Catholics live there. Whoever is elected, dramatic church changes do not appear imminent."

 ~Trent Gilliss

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trentgilliss:

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision regarding Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, the decision remains a hot-button topic in the news but, as this Pew study points out, there has been remarkable consistency in public opinion over the last two decades:


“More than six-in-ten (63%) say they would not like to see the court completely overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Only about three-in-ten (29%) would like to see the ruling overturned. These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago.


White evangelical Protestants remain outliers in this respect:


[They] are the only major religious group in which a majority (54%) favors completely overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Large percentages of white mainline Protestants (76%), black Protestants (65%) and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be overturned. Fully 82% of the religiously unaffiliated oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.


However, the U.S. public continues to be divided over whether it is morally acceptable to have an abortion:


“Nearly half (47%) say it is morally wrong to have an abortion, while just 13% find this morally acceptable; 27% say this is not a moral issue and 9% volunteer that it depends on the situation. These opinions have changed little since 2006.”


For a more in-depth discussion about the nuances of this conversation, I recommend listening to this conversation I produced for On Being with David Gushee, a Christian ethicist who advocates a “consistent ethic of life,” and Frances Kissling, a long-time abortion-rights activist, who reveal what they admire in the other side and discuss what’s really at stake in this debate.

trentgilliss:

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision regarding Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, the decision remains a hot-button topic in the news but, as this Pew study points out, there has been remarkable consistency in public opinion over the last two decades:

“More than six-in-ten (63%) say they would not like to see the court completely overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Only about three-in-ten (29%) would like to see the ruling overturned. These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago.

White evangelical Protestants remain outliers in this respect:

[They] are the only major religious group in which a majority (54%) favors completely overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Large percentages of white mainline Protestants (76%), black Protestants (65%) and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be overturned. Fully 82% of the religiously unaffiliated oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.

However, the U.S. public continues to be divided over whether it is morally acceptable to have an abortion:

“Nearly half (47%) say it is morally wrong to have an abortion, while just 13% find this morally acceptable; 27% say this is not a moral issue and 9% volunteer that it depends on the situation. These opinions have changed little since 2006.”

For a more in-depth discussion about the nuances of this conversation, I recommend listening to this conversation I produced for On Being with David Gushee, a Christian ethicist who advocates a “consistent ethic of life,” and Frances Kissling, a long-time abortion-rights activist, who reveal what they admire in the other side and discuss what’s really at stake in this debate.

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Compassion’s Edge States: Roshi Joan Halifax on Caring Better

"Be very mindful of what is appropriate for you because, I tell you, to stop in this world is to create the conditions where a lot of unusual experiences can rise up. So be very respectful of your situation and proceed with love and with care as well as courage."

It can be a stretch to summon buoyancy rather than burnout in how we work, live, and care. Roshi Joan Halifax is a Zen teacher and medical anthropologist who’s been formed by cultures from the Sahara Desert to the hallways of American prisons. She founded the Project on Being with Dying. Now she’s taking on the problem of compassion fatigue, though she doesn’t like to use that phrase. For all of us overwhelmed by bad news — and by the attention we want to pay to suffering in the world — Joan Halifax has bracing, nourishing wisdom on finding this buoyancy in our daily lives.

You can download this mp3 or subscribe to On Being's podcast on iTunes , or even listen to us in the “old way” on your local public radio stations.

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Recently I heard a wonderful program on National Public Radio about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I was struck by one of his quotes: ‘Some are guilty, but all are responsible.’

I pray for the victims and families in Newtown and Aurora and Virginia Tech and Red Lake and Columbine and Minneapolis and Norway and Webster and all the other lesser known atrocities — and for my country.

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The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua HeschelJohn Patrick Egelhof, lead FBI agent of the Red Lake High School massacre, from his excellent if not challenging commentary in the Star Tribune. Read it.

The NPR program to which Mr. Egelhof is referring is On Being with Krista Tippett, which is the radio program I’ve edited and produced for the last nine years. The show he’s culling from: “The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel.”

One of the most gratifying aspects of working on this project is seeing this type of practical impact. Many times it’s difficult to quantify the influence our work is having in the world; seeing a key law enforcement official who has faced unbelievable tragedy use these pearls of wisdom to inform his own thinking and being breathes new life into the work that I do. It’s all the thanks I need.

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Kate Braestrup with Game WardensThis week we feel especially privileged to do the work that we do. A brief post by our senior editor about the decision-making behind this week’s show and why it matters to us. From trentgilliss:

For those of you who don’t know, I edit and produce a national public radio show called On Being with Krista Tippett. It’s played on about 250 public radio stations at different times throughout the week. Part of my gig is deciding our programming line-up. Why do I tell you this?

About a week ago, we had a gap in our schedule and I suggested rebroadcasting our interview with Kate Braestrup, a UU chaplain who works with Maine’s game wardens on search-and-rescue missions and such events. She also lost a husband early in her life. For some, it seemed counter-intuitive to put a show on about death, loss, and grief during this festive time of year. But we know that the holidays can be a lonely time of despair, depression, and loss for many; I hoped our program could meet those people suffering in some minor way — and remind all of us the gift of grace and happiness during this season.

I never could’ve envisioned (nor wanted to) this horrifying scenario before us. And so I worried about the programming decision.

Well, my beloved wife Shelley and I just finished listening to the production on MPR News (yes, believe it or not, on the radio). Kate Braestrup’s stories and insights on love, death, and loss are profound — and more relevant than I could have ever imagined. It’s wise people like her who are most needed during our country’s darkest hours and brightest holidays. Bella and I cried a little; we danced.

This show doesn’t make sense of the tragedy in Connecticut; nothing can. But, Kate Braestrup offers a framing for how to think about love and tragedy, how we live forward. If you’re looking for something to listen to with your loved ones, listen to this show. And, if you do, please write me and share your thoughts. It would mean a lot to me: tgilliss@onbeing.org or @trentgilliss.

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I want Tunisia to be a place where a woman can wear a veil or not, where we can pray or not. They are trying to break the mystical balance between tradition and religion in Tunisia. They are trying to burn our identity to replace it with something we don’t know.
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