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The On Being Project

Succumbing to Distractions; The Vitality of Human Bonds; Our Collective Guilt and Responsibility; Prose and Poetry from Loring Park

When we succumb to the distractions of this life and the will of others, we must hold onto something. But what? Parker Palmer with some questions to turn over and explore and guide you:

“Knowing we can find our way home with that thread in hand, we’re more likely to explore the darkness and learn what it has to teach us.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA (Miuenski Miuenski / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).) 

Making connections can be “life-giving” but they can also reinforce “damaging divides.” While visiting with an Uber driver, Courtney Martin is reminded of the vitality of human bonds — and the chasms that remain in this hyper-networked world of ours:

“The thrilling news is that the world runs on relationships. The devastating news is that the world runs on relationships.”

Muslim men attend Friday prayers at the Turkish-speaking Sehitlik Mosque in Berlin, Germany. The mosque’s imam called the recent attacks by Islamic extremists against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in which 12 people were killed, a “crime against humanity.” The Sehitlik Mosque has been among the most outspoken in Germany against the attacks. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images.)

Ever since the Paris massacre, Omid Safi has been contemplating “what it means to ask Muslims to assume collective accountability” for acts of atrocity perpetrated in the name of Islam. In his column, Omid explores the catch-22 “good Muslims” find themselves in, and how we must all be accountable to each other.

The Duke University Chapel in the fog with a silhouetted statue of James Buchanan Duke in the foreground. (Yumian Deng / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).) 

After a Christian pastor publicly objected to Duke University allowing a call to prayer to be broadcast from its chapel, university officials reversed itself. Omid offers this visceral response to the decision, calling for an unwavering pluralism and a more inclusive approach to building the beloved community Dr. King dreamed of:

“That’s why this is ultimately not a conversation about Islam for me, but one about America. What kind of society do we want to be?”

Illustration from Thomas Wright’s visionary 1750 treatise ‘An Original Theory,’ found in Michael Benson’s book ‘Cosmigraphics’—a visual history of understanding the universe. 

Our trip to PopTech last October resulted in some wonderful outcomes. We produced our most popular podcast to date with Parker and Courtney; we’re working on a Valentine’s Day show with Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who studies the evolution and future of human sex, who you are and who you love, and marriage; and we met Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. She’s written some delightful posts on our conversations with Sherwin Nuland, Joanna Macy, and our very own Krista Tippett, whom she calls an “enchantress of the human spirit” (yes, we’re having some fun with this around the office).

And, from our Tumblr, a postcard and a poem…

“If you exorcise your demons, your angels will leave too.”

As a long-time admirer of Joe Henry’s songwriting, it’s a joy to deliver this postcard from Loring Park of him conversing with Krista from the comfort of our studio. Looking forward to editing and producing this podcast!

(Sergejs Babikovs / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

I search you
for signs of recognition—
Solomon? Solomon?

Sean Nevin’s poetry infused our podcast on Alzheimer’s, memory, and being. We rekindle a few of these lines and pair it with an image for you to ponder. Read more here.

As always, I invite your feedback, your wisdom, and your hellos. My email address is [email protected]. My Twitter handle: @trentgilliss.

May the wind be at your back.

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