President Obama Awards Krista National Humanities Medal; Parker Offers a Poem on Darkness; A Preview of Our Latest App; Hay Bales as Art; A Music Mix That’ll Haunt You

Saturday, August 2, 2014 - 5:04 am

President Obama Awards Krista National Humanities Medal; Parker Offers a Poem on Darkness; A Preview of Our Latest App; Hay Bales as Art; A Music Mix That’ll Haunt You

This week is a time of celebration and joy for all of us at On Being. The President of the United States awarded Krista Tippett the 2013 National Humanities Medal “for thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.” The White House writes:

“On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of all faiths, no faith, and every background to join the conversation.”

She joins an incredible list of past medal recipients, including Joan Didion, Wendell Berry, Steven Spielberg, Studs Terkel, Quincy Jones, and Bill Moyers, to name a few. As someone who has worked with Krista more than a decade on this adventure, I’m so pleased we can share this moment with you. It’s been an absolute honor and I couldn’t be more heartened to see her recognized for her talents… and tenacity. Oh, and you can watch the video of the ceremony too!

“The joke that many Indians have about India is that there are too many gods, and the thing that we heard from Chinese is that there is not enough God in China.”

From a visual artist at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to a foreign policy expert at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Listen to this wide-ranging public discussion with Bill Antholis, managing director of the Brookings Institution, about the four ways that nations have tried to reconcile religion and religious pluralism in the modern era. History, personal experience, politics, and sociology all in one!

Buttercup walk. (Alex J. White / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)  )

Parker Palmer’s Wednesday weekly offers a beautiful poem by Willow Harth. She reminds many of us caught “underground” to venture through the darkness and into the light, ending with this great line:

“We are the universe’s latest way of blooming.”

I’m busy working on a new tablet app for On Being. The process is iterative and constant. It’s often a bumpy journey (especially with tight turnaround times), but I was blown away with our design partner’s latest rev. Emily Oberman and Elliott Walker and their team at Pentagram are shining brightly. Click on the image for a brief preview of what’s to come.

The architectural art of stacking hay bales. I found myself admiring this farmer’s mastery from the road. What are you seeing? Share your best photos and some words about them, and I’ll select some to post on our Tumblr. You can also email me at .

“How do you expect a woman to stand on her two feet if you keep striking her at the ankles.”

Mehreen Kasana penned a powerful post titled “A Woman of War.” I’m still chewing on her insights and wrestling with the complexity of which she speaks. As a father raising two young sons, I’m particularly aware of the incongruities. I’d appreciate hearing what ideas resonate with you.

For those of you that have made it this far, an ear worm to round out the weekend. I’ve found much comfort in this song while working at my desk late into the evenings this week. It’s a hauntingly beautiful mix of My Brightest Diamond’s “Dreaming Awake.”

And, please, feel free to reach out to me. I so appreciate the feedback and the chance to have an exchange. Reach me at and on Twitter at @trentgilliss.
May the wind always be at your back.

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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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