From Difficult Truths, A Sense of Possibility

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 5:30 am

From Difficult Truths, A Sense of Possibility

This election season has been hard. It’s generated an uncomfortable rancor that, some mornings, turns into despair as I think of my two children who will inherit our generations’ unresolved mess. But the morning after the final presidential debate, I woke up to this view of a public park in Minneapolis…

The beauty of it all is overwhelming. The low-slung autumn sun bathing us in the warmth of its light — and its hope. It never ceases to amaze. And I hope our podcasts, our columnists and guest contributors, and this newsletter offer that same sense of possibility. Even as the leaves fall from the trees, green buds await.

(Andrew Burton / Getty Images / )

Parker Palmer: Losing Our Illusions

Our collective disenchantment can be a slippery slope to despair, and an easy way for us to couch ourselves in cynicism. Parker asks us to face those difficult truths head-on and move forward with an aspirational attitude and the willingness to work together:

“Culture change is neither quick nor easy — it will take a long time to find our way through the smoke and mirrors. But all long journeys begin with one small step, so here’s a modest proposal: let’s reclaim ‘disillusionment’ as a word that names a blessing rather than a curse.”

(Alex Naanou / Flickr / © All Rights Reserved)

Courtney Martin: The Spiritual Cost of “Locker Room Talk

“A lot of women walk around with a sinking suspicion that the men in their lives are not quite what they seem, that there are places and spaces where they say and do things that they would try to explain away when the lights are turned on.”

Donald Trump’s statements about women may not represent most men, but they do point to a larger dynamic at play between the sexes. Courtney peers into the divide and questions the performative roles of men in public — and the harm it does to women and men themselves.

(Stephen Maturen / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Omid Safi: A Love Journey with Dylan, The Great American Bard

“I come from a tradition where poetry and music were of paramount importance, but American pop music of the time [after 9/11] didn’t sustain my soul. … I needed to reach for music that came from the heavens, and from musicians who stood in those plains where the veils between this world and the other worlds are so, so thin. Somehow the music of the ‘60s did this to me. And none more so than Dylan’s anthem of the freedom movement.”

It’s a great pleasure to read how Omid infused his own theological questions with the music and poets of past and present — and no one moreso than Bob Dylan, who spoke to a desire for authenticity, justice, and love.

And, if I may, I offer up these interesting essays and podcasts in my queue this week:

The Fear of Having a Son. Andrew Reiner’s searching commentary on masculinity and fathering boys cites Courtney Martin’s columns for On Being. It makes us all so proud to see her words quoted in The New York Times.

Longform Podcast. Max Linsky settles into the interviewer’s chair with such charm and ease. When he recently interviewed Krista, I found myself leaning into the conversation through my Tivoli radio.

Nurturing Craft in an Age of Content. Upwrite Magazine has created an interview series with creative folks who pursue “beauty, goodness, and truth in an otherwise dismal culture.” Their recent conversation with poet Maggie Smith focuses on her viral poetry and the paradox of experience:

“I’m particularly interested in intimacy and imagination as paths to empathy, and in this broken and beautiful world, I can’t think of a more valuable and powerful tool than empathy. I keep returning to a line in one of Ada Limón’s fine poems: ‘You say you love the world, so love it.’ The way I love the world is by paying attention, and by finding ways — formally, rhetorically, lyrically — to write about my own experience, on my own terms.”

Forget Drinking Games: The Final Presidential Debate Calls for Yoga. Even the Wall Street Journal found a sense of humor during this election season. Rachel Bachman’s clever guide to keeping calm set Krista’s Twitter feed on fire!

And, from our Tumblr…


The Power of Deliberate Listening

Partnering with PRX has been a wonderful experience. They’re partners in content and mission. Case in point: John Barth, PRX’s chief content officer, forwarded this lovely rumination by Ronnie Polaneczky on reclaiming more spaces for deliberate listening. Listen for her curbside experiment. Utterly insightful.

Thank you for all the excellent criticism and compliments. Send me your thoughts about this weekly Letter from Loring Park at

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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