Last week’s podcast featuring Jonathan Haidt and Melvin Konner and this week’s episode with Dr. Mahzarin Banaji are part of a portfolio of conversations focused on helping you understand and wrestle with the larger forces at play in our contemporary culture, particularly when it comes to our current political climate and the state of racial tensions today. We all have our blind spots, and my hope is that we can become better aware of these invisible elements to make meaningful change going forward.
“Dear girls, I hope you forget. I hope that a woman in the highest office in the land seems like a truly normal occurrence to you, that you watch inaugurations and State of the Union addresses and have complex thoughts and feelings about her policies and leadership capacities, but think nothing of her sex.”
With the first female candidate securing the nomination of a major political party, Courtney Martin writes a letter of hope to her two daughters, and for the future of women in the world.
How do we emerge from the depths of suffering and into the fullness of compassion? Parker Palmer guides us through this gritty question with help of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness”:
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. / You must wake up with sorrow.”
“To paraphrase Rumi, I let myself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what I love, and it did not lead me astray. In blindly trusting this way, I came to realize that books, persons, circumstances all can be employed as mouths or arms, to address us and draw us closer. Mysticism is a courtship.”
Yahia Lababidi writes a heartfelt essay on the art of embracing and letting go. It’s an invigorating interweaving of poetry and prose meditating on being and becoming.
“We come in with our own brokenness and we are on a journey toward healing. It’s an everlasting journey to be faster, stronger, leaner — but also more kind, more patient.”
Despite reports declaring religion is dying among the millennial generation, Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile view it differently. They see religion is changing. How we gather is transitioning. For example, CrossFit boxes are creating space for community, care, and theology and filling a void. This is the first in a series of enlightening essays Angie and Casper will be writing for our Public Theology Reimagined initiative. Well worth the click!
Exercise is a form of communion. It’s a practice. This theme pulses through our work this week. Ashley Hicks should know. She’s witnessed this first-hand as co-founder of Black Girls RUN!, and, as she tells Lily Percy for C.O.O.L., the blessing is outside our comfort zone:
“I definitely think that running has helped me become, certainly, more spiritual, certainly more present. I think it’s also taught me patience…”
Comfort can come in the form of quantitative measurement, but perhaps there’s more to it. Sarah Smarsh picks up on this idea of finding bliss, not in the miles covered but in the intention behind it all:
“If there is something in your life that’s having poor or painful results, consider that the best solution might not be to stop doing it or do it more, but to do it in a different way. A cheerful heart is good medicine, goes the Proverb, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. If there is a way that brings you joy, that’s the way.”
On Being is a media project rooted in the rich soils of public radio. There’s a kind of poetry in that humus, and much of it is due to the voice of Bill Siemering, the founding program director of National Public Radio, as evidenced by an early mission statement that begins:
“National Public Radio will serve the individual: it will promote personal growth; it will regard the individual differences among men with respect and joy rather than derision and hate; it will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied rather than vacuous and banal; it will encourage a sense of active constructive participation, rather than apathetic helplessness…
The total service should be trustworthy, enhance intellectual development, expand knowledge, deepen aural esthetic enjoyment, increase the pleasure of living in a pluralistic society and result in a service to listeners which makes them more responsive, informed human beings and intelligent responsible citizens of their communities and the world.”
I’d like to think we’re carrying forward the deepest aspirations of that legacy today with the podcasts we create (Becoming Wise, Creating Our Own Lives, and On Being), the columnists who grace our website (Parker Palmer, Courtney Martin, Omid Safi, and Sarah Smarsh, to name a few) — and all the live events and special initiatives we produce (The Civil Conversations Project, Your Audio Selfie, The Poetry Radio Project, etc).
If we’re not living up to these standards, let us know. We’re a team that values reciprocity and engagement, and we welcome your insights. Feel free to contact me or anyone on our team with advice, criticism, or feedback at [email protected] or via Facebook or Twitter.
May the wind always be at your back.