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The On Being Project

What if the Connection We Crave Is Right in Front of Us?

This week, we release the second season of Creating Our Own Lives (a.k.a. COOL). You can listen to a preview here and subscribe to the podcast here.

We’ve also been commissioning some incredibly talented artists and brilliant thinkers to illustrate and write about messy human realities and how they connect to grand religious ideas. I’d encourage you to leaf through our portfolio and see which ones speak to you. In the meantime, I’ll direct your attention to our latest feature; it epitomizes the grittiness and aspiration of this project.

Public Theology Reimagined

Abigail Pogrebin | Knowing Is Belonging
I don’t know about you, but Abby’s opening line, “I am not an easy joiner,” deeply resonates. So many people nowadays live frantic, hectic lives. Adding another commitment to our schedules — joining a book club, working at the local food shelf, adding another social media space — can feel overwhelming. But she experienced something different once she delved into her religious heritage: a profound kinship that doesn’t deplete but revives:

“Knowing is belonging, but it is also a call to activate every one of those seemingly random symbols, every line of centuries-old liturgy, every blessing. Belonging, for me, is not passive camaraderie. There’s some kind of electrical current charging through it.”

A Word from Our Columnists

Omid Safi | The Sacred Path Is The One We’re On

“The torii, the Japanese gate, is said to mark the threshold between the sacred and the profane. Yet the torii is famously open. Sacred on this side, sacred on that side. Sacred to the right, sacred to the left. And while the thousands of torii do mark the path that one is encouraged to stay on, there are also hundreds if not thousands of sideway paths into other shrines, other bamboo-filled forests to wander and reflect. Ultimately, all is sacred, all is illuminated. For the ones who walk on the path, it is all sacred.”

We often see what’s immediately before us. Our view becomes linear, as Omid observed while walking through a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan. What if we recognized the path is part of the destination?

Courtney Martin | How To Game Yourself To Make Great Art
When I first read this piece, I thought of the Nike slogan, “Just do it.” But how do you do those things that scare you, and still rise to your best self? Courtney explains how: by duping your mind into feeling confident until you actually are:

“If I can trick myself into thinking the stakes are lower than they really are, then I can get out of my own way emotionally and let my gift flow more freely. There’s a directness, a playful quality, a delight, that can exist within the context of this game; it isn’t weighed down with all the self-seriousness of the artist trying to make something worthy of the world.”

Parker Palmer | The Vitality of Diversity

“Sartre’s definition of hell is a reach too far for me. My hell is much more specific. It’s a place populated exclusively by straight white males over 50 who have college degrees and financial security — which is to say, people like me. For me, variety is more, much more, than the spice of life. It’s a basic ingredient of a life lived fully and well.”

Parker follows up his bold opening by drawing four parallels between biodiversity and social diversity. A worthwhile read for this time.

The Poetry Radio Project

Adnan Onart | Ramadan in Dunkin Donuts
We’re in the season of Ramadan, and every year I pull up this magical reading of a poem by the Turkish-American poet Adnan Onart, in which he shares a touching moment between two Muslim men in a donut shop in the days after 9/11.

As always, I welcome all feedback, constructive or otherwise. I can handle it. You can reach me at [email protected] or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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