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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.
From a 2011 Pew Research Center report, a graphic showing the median percentage of Muslims across seven Muslim countries who say each of these traits describes people in Western countries and median percentage of non-Muslims across the U.S., Russia, and four Western European countries who say each of these traits describes Muslims.
I highly recommend reading Michael Young’s op-ed "What Does Muslim-Western Relations Mean?" that gets at these ideas about values, characteristics, and identity.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

From a 2011 Pew Research Center report, a graphic showing the median percentage of Muslims across seven Muslim countries who say each of these traits describes people in Western countries and median percentage of non-Muslims across the U.S., Russia, and four Western European countries who say each of these traits describes Muslims.

I highly recommend reading Michael Young’s op-ed "What Does Muslim-Western Relations Mean?" that gets at these ideas about values, characteristics, and identity.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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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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trentgilliss:

I adore these closing stanzas from this poem by Marie Howe:

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,

the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath —that was the first devil.
It was always with me.

And that I didn’t think you — if I told you — would understand any of this —

She is one of those all-too-rare poets who can read her work with a fluidity and a clarity that doesn’t sound forced. It was such an honor to edit and produce this interview with her for On Being.

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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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An enchanting hour of poetry drawing on the ways family and religion shape our lives. Marie Howe, poet laureate of New York State, works and plays with her Catholic upbringing, the universal drama of family, and the ordinary time that sustains us. The moral life, she says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do — and so words have a power to save us.

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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)

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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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On this sad day commemorating 45 years since MLK’s death, a reminder that his message of nonviolence and the beloved community lives on in the work of one of his closest friends and confidants, Congressman John Lewis.

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An hour with the extraordinary humanity of Congressman John Lewis. The civil rights movement he helped animate was — as he tells it — love in action. He opens up the art and the discipline that made nonviolence work then — and that he offers up for our common life even today. John Lewis so gives voice to the meaning of Passover and Holy Week.

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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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"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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This man is a voice for all ages and all seasons. Sadly, most people have probably never heard of this great civil rights leader. Vincent Harding wrote speeches for Martin Luther King Jr. and was one of his closest friends. But, he doesn’t live in the past. He is teaching new generations about the lessons of that time — and how those lessons can repair divisions in America today. He finds hope in young people today and says they are his answer to the question that drives him: “Is America possible?”

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trentgilliss:

Wow. This SuperBowl commercial is a testament to the power of religious language, Paul Harvey, and the dream of America presented through rural imagery:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk, . Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”

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