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The On Being Project

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Inspiring Words from the Inauguration, Public Meditation, Collective Imagination and ‘Nones’

Inspiring Words from the Inauguration, Public Meditation, Collective Imagination and ‘Nones’

Up here in the hinterlands of Minnesota, we’ve had a good, solid run of sub-freezing, sub-zero temperatures. I find these days refreshingly cleansing— crisp, sharp, light — but realize the girl (@kristatippett) from Shawnee, Oklahoma is still adapting:

Among the virtues of being a Hockey Mom, it keeps you moving and feeling useful on these unbelievably beyond cold days.

But, thankfully, we had Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem to keep us warm this. As Elizabeth Alexander pointed out in last week’s show, we are starved for poetry nowadays. Mr. Blanco’s closing verse elevates and emboldens all of us to, as Ms. Alexander says, to be “of interest to each other”:

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

Share with a friend and enjoy together. A true pleasure.
In one of those delightful moments only a live event can deliver, the Zen abbot Roshi Joan Halifax ended her conversation with Krista by walking the audience at Chautauqua through a guided meditation on encountering grief:

“May I accept my sadness knowing that I am not my sadness.”

We isolated those ten minutes and posted it on our blog (gorgeous photo by Tim Daniels). Somewhat to our surprise, thousands of people have listened to and downloaded the mp3. Give it a try. I’d love to read your impressions.
Several of our Instagram photo-quote pairings were inspired by this week’s interview — including these words from J.K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech at Harvard:

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.”

And how about this reflective image by Vincent von Schnauzer paired with words from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing:

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.”

And, spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle even found his way into the mix with this passage from The Power of Now:

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude.”

Some of our followers on Facebook had an engaging conversation thread on equating “inner stillness” with “no mind.” It’s worth a read, and participating in, if you’re trying to make sense of Mr. Tolle’s meaning.
For those of you not watching or listening to the news this week, Roe v. Wade turned 40 on Tuesday. We teased out a couple of the more interesting findings from a recent survey conducted by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Check it out.
A couple of Krista’s observations that resonated with folks this week…

Twitter’s gift to an introvert (like me): this unusual feeling of roaming around in a crowd entirely at ease.


Endangered words I want to revive: redemptive, edifying, adventurous, nourishing; love as a daring, smart, practical thing; nuance.

Jake Erickson (@jacobjerickson), a PhD student in Theological and Philosophical Studies, responded in kind with these suggestions:

Other endangereds: intelligent wonder, regeneration, vibrancy, textured, indwelling, love as seduction to complexity; awe.

Of course, these interviews call us to profound places, but there is space for a silent chuckle and a tweet (@TrentGilliss) here and there:

Something I never thought I’d hear @KristaTippett say during an interview: “Let’s talk about marketing.”

In last week’s newsletter, Krista began a discussion on the much-discussed “Nones”:

All this journalistic analysis around the “Nones” as the demise of religion. But so many of them are ethically and spiritually passionate.

The new non-religious represent the evolution of faith, not its demise. They will restore the great traditions to their own deepest truths.

We’re receiving a plethora of responses, including these two from the On Being Facebook page. Cameron Close finds hope in this new generation:

“I have read with interest the NPR series this week on religion. I hope the above prognostication is true. Last night my wife and I spent some time, preparing a meal for some college students who are connected to the Church. They seem to feel that their friends go in search of God but end up with a giant dose of religion, and it is not fulfilling. So off they go, maybe that is the quest that will lead us back to the above quote. I think more likely than not the resolution will involve discoveries on a cosmological plane. Who knows we can only hope.”

Joanne Cafiero, who lives in Washington DC, considers herself one of the new non-religious:

“Raised Roman Catholic, made yearly retreats, attending Catholic schools, teaching CCD and spending a year volunteering in a third-world country as a teacher and community worker representing my church. My Catholic education is where I learned the value of service to others. Now, as a disenfranchised Catholic, I miss the sense of community but do not miss the disrespect I perceive from the Roman Catholic Church towards me as a woman and a Christian. I have found Contemplative Outreach and Centering Prayer as the anchor of new faith. This is good but it is not enough. So although I am not a member of an organized faith, I am more focused, searching, and spiritual than when I was a traditional Catholic.”

What’s your take on this? Drop us a line on our website, via Facebook or Twitter (@beingtweets, @KristaTippett, @TrentGilliss).
And, I don’t know about you, but it’s been a grueling, fast-paced week. To get it all done and stay sane, I’ve been listening to a lot of music from The Civil Wars as I produce for and write for On Being (and parent). It’s the perfect mix of reflectiveness and energy to help one focus!

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