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The On Being Project

Behind Each of Us Is a Deep Story

Nadema Agard, a Native American artist and educator, sent me an email containing a single question:

“Can you include Native Americans in your programming?”

A fair question. We had a lovely exchange, which led to our conversation with Layli Long Soldier:

She joins a wonderful cohort of indigenous voices who’ve graced our program: Robin Wall KimmererDavid TreuerErnie LaPointe and Cedric Good House, and Basil Brave Heart immediately come to mind.

Thank you to Nadema and the many others who have taken time to offer their helpful criticisms and generous affirmations. We welcome your feedback at any time. Please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or via Twitter. My handle is @trentgilliss.

Public Theology Reimagined

(Brandon King / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Michael Eric Dyson | Abraham, Isaac, and Us (and Hagar and Ishmael and Trayvon and Michael Brown, Too)

“Truth happens when we recognize the expression of a compelling and irrefutable description of reality. Truth is not irrefutable because it appeals to ideals that escape the fingerprints of time and reason. Truth is irrefutable because it is morally coherent and socially irresistible.”

Dr. Dyson’s commentary is a powerful read (over 5,000 words) that originally appeared in a magnificent collection of essays titled The Good Book. He explores broader views of truth and how biblical literalism has “reinforced violence against loved ones and prevented Christians from embracing the emancipating elements of the stories we read.” One reader commented: “As a black woman raised by black parents, I thank you for the illuminating what has been hiding in the dark recesses on many levels.” In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing two more essays by novelists Edwidge Danticat and Ian Caldwell.

What Our Columnists Are Thinking

(Tu Haoqin / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)

Parker Palmer | What’s an Angry Quaker To Do?
Our resident Quaker columnist is angry:

“I stand in a religious tradition that asks me to live by such values as community, equality, simplicity, and non-violence. As a result, I frequently find myself in deep oatmeal — especially when it comes to politics, where I seem to have an anger management problem.”

Parker recalibrates his anger and proposes how folks might redirect their rage towards a constructive and healing public life.

(Kevin N. Murphy / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial)

Courtney Martin | The Lie Polite Culture Tells Us About Conflict
Do you put off difficult conversations longer than you should? Courtney does too. Don’t delay. Trust in the resilience of your relationships and meet your loved ones head-on on occasion:

“The relationships I admire most are not steady or nice; they are genuine, imperfect, held together by unconditional love and emotional courage and a belief in the possibility of endless renewal. The people I admire most are those wise enough not to fight about everything, but to fight about and for the right things, those who don’t idealize harmony, but trust in the necessary beauty of rupture and repair.”

What We’re Reading and Listening To
PRI’s The World | How a Hmong Song Tradition Is Kept Alive in the American Midwest
The Hmong language, says writer Kao Kalia Yang, is “a tonal language where every breath carries meaning.” An insightful interview about her father and kwv txhiaj, her culture’s rich tradition of song poetry.

Harvard Gazette | The Deep Story Behind Red-State Rage
For those liberal voters who are trying to understand rural, red state conservatives, read this article. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s findings may unsettle you, but may also help you see the “deep story” of your fellow citizens.

UK Independent | In the War Between Millennials and Baby Boomers We Have Forgotten about the Work-Hard, Play-Hard Generation X
Yes, I’m a Gen X-er. And I took full pleasure in David Barnett’s pithy, tongue-in-cheek commentary exhorting a generation often ignored:

“Generation X has the benefit of possessing the best characteristics of both the boomers and the millennials, and none of the downsides. We know how to work hard and we know how to play hard. Generation X-ers are very industrious. Boomers don’t understand the internet and millennials were raised on it. Generation X created it. We stripped off and dove into the glittering waters of this brand new thing, and made it what it is today. We had a dot com boom (and a couple of busts), we took those progressive late-boomers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs under our wing and showed them what we could do with their stuff. We walked around with phones the size of rucksacks and sent the first halting text-messages. We knuckled down and worked hard and now we write books and make TV and direct movies, we get up early to go to work, we come out in the middle of the night to fix your burst pipe.”

Too fun. Am I showing my bias?

From the On Being Archives

Bobby McFerrin’s Communal Sharing of “Ave Maria”

“This is what I want everyone to experience at the end of my concert is everyone has this sense of rejoicing. I don’t want them to be blown away by what I do, I want them to have this sense of real, real joy from the depths of their being. Because I think when you take them to that place, then you open up a place where grace can come in.”

Watching and listening to this marvelous act of communal singing of “Ave Maria” at the Montreal Jazz Festival still stirs the soul. Pure joy.

Until next week, may the wind always be at your back.

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