An Icelandic Hymn as Invocation; Parker with a Simple List; Courtney on Public Humiliation and Shame; A Meditation on People and Place; Words I Never Thought I’d Hear Krista Say; Ten Books That Shaped You?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 5:36 am

An Icelandic Hymn as Invocation; Parker with a Simple List; Courtney on Public Humiliation and Shame; A Meditation on People and Place; Words I Never Thought I’d Hear Krista Say; Ten Books That Shaped You?

It’s been a heavy week in the news, non? Let’s ease into this issue together with a singing invocation, as it were. An Icelandic group reprises an 800-year-old Scandinavian hymn in a German train station and transforms everyone there. You will be changed too; I promise.

(Inner-City Muslim Action Network / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0))

Parker Palmer’s column this week opens with a short story by poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Inspired by its simplicity and power, he offers a list of five simple things we can do to help with reweaving our civic community. All of them are so very doable. Commit to one and tell me about the experience; I’d like to know how we’re making a difference together.

FYI: the paperback of Parker’s Healing the Heart of Democracy just came out. It’s a thoughtful read filled with lyrical wisdom well worth dropping a ten-spot on. (Yeah, I’m a big fan too!)

Janay Rice and and her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speak during an NFL football news conference on Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, MD. (Patrick Semansky / AP Image.)

Sports radio consumes a large part of my drive time to and from work. This week, as the news swirled around Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after the video of his assault of his wife Janay surfaced, talking heads (well-intentioned and not) abounded. I found myself frustrated and longing for a perspective of someone I trusted. So I asked our weekly columnist Courtney Martin, a woman who is immersed in women’s rights and larger cultural ideas, what she was thinking about. She wrote something unexpected and necessary, “The Violence of Humiliation”:

“So many NFL players, so many men, carry the festering wound of having been abused themselves. As has so often been said, hurt people hurt people. It’s not until we reveal those wounds, examine them, heal them, that we will actually see a shift in male-perpetrated violence of so many kinds.

No amount of humiliation can accomplish that, and in fact, any amount of humiliation will prevent it. People may make themselves feel better as they tweet away about what a monster Ray Rice is, but they are actually increasing injury in the process.”

Sunset in St. Meinrad. (Garden Beth / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).)

Call me a pollyanna, but I believe there’s more right than wrong in the world. Take, for instance, this lovely meditation on people and place by Ron Beathard. “A Sacred Place Underfoot” is a series of vignettes, really, about a quiet, rooted town in southern Indiana. And it captures the sense of the sacred in the ordinary, in the everyday rhythms of the landscape and the people who inhabit it. Our guest contributor helps us see the world before us as we might not have ever witnessed it before:

“My priest told me that a place is made more holy by the prayers said there. I believe that a place is made more sacred by the people who lived there.”

Your lenses on life and community matter to us. I want to share more perspectives. Please think of our humble project as a platform for your voice. Submit your work here, and we will gladly take a look and potentially publish as part of this larger collective of creating and sharing meaning.

This applies to the Middle East too. As I read about the chaos and uncertainty, I hold onto so much hope — and remember Krista’s conversation with Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad (“No More Taking Sides”) in a hotel room in Milwaukee. It was a moment when the sacred and the profane interlocked fingers. I’m finding myself closing my eyes just thinking about it. A hat tip to Michel Martin, whose conversation on NPR was my madeleine in a teacup.

“You can’t write about your life if you’ve missed it.”

Krista’s interview with folk singer Carrie Newcomer was a musical delight. If you couldn’t attend or watch the live video stream, no worries. We recorded it for you. We hope to produce and release this podcast sometime in November/December.

(Davi Ozolin / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

What are the ten books that have shaped you? Omid Safi shares his and asks the same of you. Some of the responses are incredible!

Words I never thought I’d hear Krista utter during an interview:

“We’ll come back to hip hop in a moment.”

Comments? Suggestions? An article you’d like to write for publication at Reach me at and on Twitter at @trentgilliss.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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