Edit this post

The On Being Project

Advent Hymn Elaborated and Acts of Kindness, Poetry Performed, and Geniuses Depart Us with Some Wise Words

For many Christians, “Oh Come, Emanuel” was sung from choral sanctuaries and blasted from organ pipes at the back of the church on the first Sunday of Advent. In the spirit of the season, we posted a video of a pianist and cellist performing the classic hymn. It’s gorgeous and definitely our most visited page this week.

Matthew 25: “I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.”

Krista shared this tweet by Bill Antholis (@wjantholis), managing director of The Brookings Institution, who cited this New Testament verse after reading a touching story about a NYPD officer who bought a new pair of boots for a barefooted, homeless man. The officer keeps the receipt in his pocket. When asked why, he replied:

“To remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”

May we all be this aware of others and offer similar kindnesses during this holiday season.
For us Downton Abbey fans on staff, what a joy to have the British actor Dan Stevens (yes, the Matthew Crawley!) reach out to Krista from across the Atlantic:

@kristatippett recently discovered your podcast; an absolute revelation. Beautiful, engaging & important. Great work. Thank you!

@thatdanstevens I’m honored!

As many of you know, we take you behind the glass by offering our unedited interviews.

Public radio infrastructure at Minnesota Public Radio / American Public Media

While our technical director Chris Heagle (@caheagle) was sorting things out during Krista’s interview with Seth Godin, I shot this “inside” perspective. Of course, our director of operations gave me some grief, but Tamara Brantmeier, an associate professor of art at the University of Wisconsin–Stout replied:

All I see is a painting.

I think it’s beautiful too. And as Krista reminds us:

“Above all remember that the meaning of life is to live life as it if were a work of art.” ~Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Some other good reads Krista shared this week:

Fascinating new correlation between the way galaxies, our brains, the internet grow – organically, by connection.

Good piece on the “Green Patriarch,” His All Holiness Bartholomew.

More fodder for us converts who can’t believe we love Twitter – it’s present-oriented.

And, how about this observation:

Words for Friends is now a board game. The good irony that great things digital remind us why we like to get together in the flesh.

For a bit of levity and beauty, check out our Tumblr where you’ll see the Smithsonian Magazine‘s absolutely brilliant photo of the Hindu festival of Janmashtami.The composition is outstanding. On Monday, Pope Benedict VXI put a smile on my face with this shot; sometimes man and beast are not in perfect harmony.
Poetry? One of our more popular Instagrams this week paired a refrain from Leonard Cohen’s poem “Anthem” and Theophilos Papadopoulos’ photo of church bells on the island of Crete:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

More poetry? You must listen to Tom Waits reading of Charles Bukowski’s poem “Nirvana.” It’s a pairing for the gods.
This week two cultural icons passed away. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (who was 104!) once noted:

“For me, beauty is valued more than anything — the beauty that is manifest in a curved line or in an act of creativity.”

He created some of the world’s iconic masterpieces such as the visually arresting Catedral Metropolitana de Nossa Senhora Aparecida and said:

“Humanity needs dreams to be able to survive the miseries of daily existence, even if only for an instant.”

I would’ve loved to have seen what he would have created on the Great Plains.
We also mourn the loss of one of this country’s jazz legends, Dave Brubeck, who said:

“For as long as I’’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me. Frankly, labels bore me.”

Take a moment (no puns allowed) to remember and listen to his music.

Share Your Reflection