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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.
"The Church Trap" at the 2013 Burning Man Festival. An old church-shaped structure is poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ.
A perfect image to lead Martin Marty’s piece on how Christians exaggerate their attendance at church when talking to surveyors on the phone rather than when taking an online poll.
Photo by Mack Reed
"The Church Trap" at the 2013 Burning Man Festival. An old church-shaped structure is poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ.
A perfect image to lead Martin Marty’s piece on how Christians exaggerate their attendance at church when talking to surveyors on the phone rather than when taking an online poll.
Photo by Mack Reed

"The Church Trap" at the 2013 Burning Man Festival. An old church-shaped structure is poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ.

A perfect image to lead Martin Marty’s piece on how Christians exaggerate their attendance at church when talking to surveyors on the phone rather than when taking an online poll.

Photo by Mack Reed

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Americans Have More Confidence in the Military than in the Church
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
What does it say about us Americans when the only institution with “a notable gain in public confidence” is the U.S. military — not churches, not labor unions, not even the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Pew Research Center notes, ”Public confidence in the military surpassed confidence in religious organizations in the late 1980s and has stayed there ever since.” Of the 16 institutions listed in a 2011 Gallup survey, only three have a confidence rating above 50 percent. Here’s the complete list of the percentage of Americans who say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them:
78% - Military
64% - Small business
56% - Police
48% - Church or organized religion
39% - Medical system
37% - U.S. Supreme Court
35% - Presidency
34% - Public schools
28% - Criminal justice system
28% - Newspapers
27% - Television news
23% - Banks
21% - Organized labor
19% - Big business
19% - Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
12% - Congress
Americans Have More Confidence in the Military than in the Church
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
What does it say about us Americans when the only institution with “a notable gain in public confidence” is the U.S. military — not churches, not labor unions, not even the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Pew Research Center notes, ”Public confidence in the military surpassed confidence in religious organizations in the late 1980s and has stayed there ever since.” Of the 16 institutions listed in a 2011 Gallup survey, only three have a confidence rating above 50 percent. Here’s the complete list of the percentage of Americans who say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them:
78% - Military
64% - Small business
56% - Police
48% - Church or organized religion
39% - Medical system
37% - U.S. Supreme Court
35% - Presidency
34% - Public schools
28% - Criminal justice system
28% - Newspapers
27% - Television news
23% - Banks
21% - Organized labor
19% - Big business
19% - Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
12% - Congress

Americans Have More Confidence in the Military than in the Church

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

What does it say about us Americans when the only institution with “a notable gain in public confidence” is the U.S. military — not churches, not labor unions, not even the U.S. Supreme Court?

The Pew Research Center notes, ”Public confidence in the military surpassed confidence in religious organizations in the late 1980s and has stayed there ever since.” Of the 16 institutions listed in a 2011 Gallup survey, only three have a confidence rating above 50 percent. Here’s the complete list of the percentage of Americans who say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them:

  • 78% - Military
  • 64% - Small business
  • 56% - Police
  • 48% - Church or organized religion
  • 39% - Medical system
  • 37% - U.S. Supreme Court
  • 35% - Presidency
  • 34% - Public schools
  • 28% - Criminal justice system
  • 28% - Newspapers
  • 27% - Television news
  • 23% - Banks
  • 21% - Organized labor
  • 19% - Big business
  • 19% - Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • 12% - Congress
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Happiness For Sale: $75,000

by Shubha Bala, associate producer

In a time when happiness is being measured through Facebook and Twitter, it’s inevitable that we will see more and more scientific reports to help us find happiness. This one from the Gallup Organization finds:

"Emotional well-being (measured by questions about emotional experiences yesterday) and life evaluation (measured by Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Scale) have different correlates. Income and education are more closely related to life evaluation, but health, care giving, loneliness, and smoking are relatively stronger predictors of daily emotions. When plotted against log income, life evaluation rises steadily. Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of $75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being."

Indian economist Amartya SenThis idea of happiness costing $75,000 reminded me of Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s book Development As Freedom. Perhaps in the United States, $75,000 is the amount people need to have the freedom to choose how to live their lives without worrying about their basic needs. Of course, Sen also says that while happiness is an important factor in assessing well-being, it can’t work as a sole measure for very practical reasons. Sen tells David Aaronovitch in an interview for The Sunday Times:

"If you’re asked how happy are you, the answer is exactly informative as to what you would say if somebody asked you how happy you are. It doesn’t tell anyone whether you’re really happy or not. People can get very discontented when they’re very successful. And the sad thing is that people actually do adjust if they’re very deprived. I spent 15 years working on famine and it’s amazing how happy famine victims are when they ultimately get a meal. But that doesn’t mean people are generally more deprived than a famine victim having a first meal."

The elusive definition of happiness is echoed by Buddhist Matthieu Ricard in our show "The Happiest Man in the World." In the audio clip above he reiterates the importance of making that difficult distinction between happiness and pleasure. Should, or can, happiness be surveyed?

(photo: Indian economist Amartya Sen by Henny Ray Abrams/AFP/Getty Images)

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Building a New Future for SOF Online

Help us better connect with you. Over the past five years, we’ve built an online presence meant to complement the radio program and serve your needs. Now it’s time to take a moment to evaluate what you value most and what you might like going into the future.

How do you engage with us? Through our blog? Facebook and Twitter? Do you read transcripts or download mp3s? Please take this brief survey and help us improve our service. » Share your input!

Tagged: #outreach #survey
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