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The On Being Project

Image By Paul McGeiver/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
The Stuff-Effort Equation; The Sweeter We Get; What Personality Type Are You; Books We’re Reading; A Southern Woman’s Grief

The Stuff-Effort Equation; The Sweeter We Get; What Personality Type Are You; Books We’re Reading; A Southern Woman’s Grief

We’re in the dog days of summer, which means good eating, Aquatennial celebrations, and choice reading here at On Being. Krista’s in Berlin this week, and we’ve had three new people join our staff: Annie Parsons, Maia Tarrell, and Tony Birleffi. They are a joy to work with and bring new energy (and much needed resources) to our media project. And we just celebrated our second year as an independent, not-for-profit organization! Thank you for listening to our podcasts and reading our work. It’s an honor to be able to be part of your lives.

(Campbell Mithun)

“We’re buying less stuff, in part, because we have less money. But there’s also a growing exasperation with how owning things, especially things we don’t need, affects our quality of life. The stuff-effort equation just doesn’t add up.”

Courtney Martin’s column this week is one that’s resonating with folks. Like many of you, she’s reexamining her relationship with “stuff.” And, in this digital age, as she points out, we have so many opportunities to participate in this fresh, new sharing economy and restore what is vital to our well-being.

Watermelons for sale at the wholesale fruit market in Lima, Peru. (Ernesto Benavides / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images.)

“We are like the watermelons. Each of us has a crusty external rind. A case that both protects us and keeps others out. The closer you get to the middle, that is to say — the closer you get to the heart — the sweeter we get.”

Sometimes we need to be cut open in order to share our sweetest layers. Omid Safi on the mystery of watermelons.

(Paul McGeiver / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

Each one of us has a “constellation of tendencies,” but often we identify more strongly with a certain set of responses. By identifying our dominant personality type, we can see these tendencies in their purified and unpurified forms — and find a world of options opening up as we become more aware. Sharon Salzberg on the three personality types of Buddhist psychology.

A father and son take a walk together. (Petras Gagilas / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).)

The William Stafford poem included by Parker Palmer in his column is a gift. The opening line of the third stanza, “World, I am your slow guest,” is a wonderful thought to ponder and sit with for a while. I’m still wrestling with it…

I received an advanced copy of Andrew Blauner’s forthcoming anthology, The Good Book, and found myself absolutely riveted while fishing on a pontoon. It’s a series of digestible essays by an unexpected line-up of writers, both religious and secular, who reflect on their favorite passages and/or characters from the Bible. Two of my favorite essays are by Ian Caldwell on swimming and Michael Eric Dyson on corporal punishment. Well worth the price of admission.

For those of you short on time, here are three things I’ve enjoyed reading and watching. I hope you do too!

  • “A Stamp of Good Fortune.” Farrar, Straus and Giroux curates an exceptional blog titled Work in Progress. I’d point you to Charlotte Strick’s intriguing critique on how she might redesign the recently-released Flannery O’Connor postage stamps.
  • “My Wedding Was Perfect – and I Was Fat as Hell the Whole Time.” Lindy West writes some frank prose on “being fat and in love in public” and the “radical act” of doing so.
  • “Didn’t It Rain.” Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of those amazing women too few of us know. Powerful gospel singer though she was, her guitar-picking was second to none, inspiring the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Check out this performance.
Charleston, South Carolina. (David Mello / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

Holly Haworth sent us “The Thread of All Sorrows” through our guest submission form. It’s a gorgeous piece of writing from a Southern woman’s perspective. It’s a searching lament on the hot, boiling silence of Southern grief after the shootings in Charleston — and the inheritance of sorrow:

“I say that I am grieving to tell you that I am crying, and the tears and the sun are a combination of heat and sting that don’t serve to make me, the white Southerner, feel anything close to the hot sting felt by black slaves and their descendants, but that I am trying to know that grief that is leaking out all around me, and that my tears tell me that somehow I am a part of it, that it is in me too.”

And, if you’re wondering about the photos we chose for this article, they were taken by David Mello. We tried to convey a sense of grief and despair while also surfacing the life taking place in the Carolinas that many of us don’t see.

Was this effective? Or did we miss the mark? I welcome your insights. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. My email address is [email protected] and my Twitter handle is @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.


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