I started praying when I came to Treasury. At Goldman, I didn’t pray. Not once. ‘Cause I just didn’t care. At Treasury, there were so many times.
Gaga for Rilke
Andy Dayton, associate web producer
The writing of Rainer Maria Rilke has appeared pretty frequently in the history of Speaking of Faith. We featured his poems in “The Soul in Depression,” and Krista even included his work in the opening pages of her book.
Recently, though, I encountered Rilke in an unexpected place — on the bicep of pop singer Lady Gaga. In a conversation with Interview magazine, she cited Rilke as “my favorite writer” and, while in Osaka, was tattooed with a passage from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet — a series of responses to a young student who had sent Rilke some of his work, asking for advice about becoming a writer. The two never met, but during this five-year period Rilke wrote him 10 letters.
During the interview, Lady Gaga translated the tattoo’s German script into English:
"Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?"
(photo: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)
So when you give someone a name, you’re giving them part of your soul. And when you accept a name, you’re both accepting the soul given and you’re giving part of your own. So you’re connected in ways that are profound and meaningful and communicated by the very word which the English translation ‘namesake’ doesn’t really cover.
—David Treuer, an author and translator who spoke to Krista for our show, "Language and Meaning, an Ojibwe Story"
Trent Gilliss, online editor
A Quote of Unknown Origin?
Trent Gilliss, online editor
"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
I’ve seen this quote attributed to Martin Luther and cited in all types of places: on installation walls, in sermons, on blogs, you name it. But what’s the source? Please help me out.
Only in a state of great powerlessness, weakness, fear, and anxiety does the idea of justified torture sound even remotely reasonable to an otherwise good and moral man.
— Geoffrey Cornish, who quotes his father’s friend who helped soldiers escape from Japanese work camps in WWII, in response to our blog post about Darius Rejali’s personal interest in the torture debate.
The rest of his comment is well worth reading.
I want to find out who I am and to live it in the service of the world.
There’s only one script now!
—Krista Tippett, informing a producer that floating versions of language for an upcoming show, with listeners’ voices on the economic crisis, has been merged.
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
Connecting Chicken Coops and Benedictine Prayer Illustrations
Earlier this week, I posted a quote on our Facebook page from Eulalia Cobb. She’s a listener from West Pawlet, Vermont who wrote a lovely reflection in response to last week’s show on her practice of mindfulness while spring cleaning a chicken coop:
"In years past, I rushed impatiently through this coop cleaning. After all, there was a garden to be planted…"
What I find so delightful about posting wonderful words like Eulalia’s outside the bounds of speakingoffaith.org is the broad knowledge base and interesting insights we may not have learned otherwise. Many times this wisdom serves as a fresh starting point for fans who may not have happened across these quirky, endearing stories. And that’s why I absolutely dug Denise Klitsie's comment in response:
"I am working on illustrations for a book on the hours of prayer—the Benedictines started this idea of recognizing transitions throughout the day that pressed up against one in work and life and began to name the hours, none, sext, vespers etc.—this essay on cleaning the chicken coup is inspiring me for imagery because imaging these "hours" is every challenging so I thought this picture of repetitious mundane yucky work might fit the hour of sext where the noonday devil is present tempting one to give up, throw in the towel, give up the fight because it is just too hard or too messy. Thanks SOF."
These are the types of connections that sustain my work. I’ll keep trying to do more. I’d love your advice on better or more inventive ways of making these connections possible.
President Obama Evokes Rabbi Heschel?
Colleen Scheck, Producer
From a Guardian story about President Obama’s press conference at the G20 Summit yesterday:
Asked whether he thought the US should shoulder the blame for causing the crisis, Obama replied America had some accounting to do. But he said he was “a great believer in looking forward rather than looking back”, citing his American law school professor who told him “some are to blame, but all are responsible”.
Surely his law school professor was evoking the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel — “Some are guilty, but all are responsible” — right? Again we feel Heschel’s present-day relevance.
Niebuhr, Heschel — which other SOF biographical series subject will President Obama evoke next? Perhaps Einstein’s post World War II comment: ”…there is no escape into easy comfort, there is no distance ahead for proceeding little by little and delaying the necessary changes into an indefinite future. The situation calls for a courageous effort, for a radical change in our whole attitude in the entire political content.”