Courtney Martin delves into America’s dysfunctional relationship with sex, money, and power — and calls for a rethinking of sex education, to reflect the actual complexity and broad range of how human sexuality gets expressed and must be honored.
From the dreary lyrics of “Eleanor Rigby” to Lennon’s infamous remarks on Christianity, The Beatles seemed to embody a godless skepticism about the world. But was their outlook really so bleak? Kenneth Womack on the deeper message at the heart of their music: a life-affirming, transcendent sense of communal good.
Models and data show what’s happening to our planet, but are our conversations about climate change really about something deeper? A biologist poses a challenge to the scientific community, and to all of us: to infuse our debates not only with factual rigor, but with empathy and compassion, too.
On questioning the habit of vilifying “gun people” for a fundamental part of their lives and identities — and on the deeper understanding that might bring us closer to the solution to violence that we all seek.
How can we nurture our identity and faith if we don’t feel recognized for who we are? A reflection on yearning for a community that truly sees us.
A poem to honor the commonalities that run deeper than our cultural divides — from the San Francisco of the Beat Generation to a modest dive on the Jersey Shore.
To live fully and well, we need diversity — in nature and in our lives together.
A lesson on gilding our flaws; the fresh air of the Easter and Passover season; a visual tour of a haunting ritual; and Brené Brown’s encouragement for those who are done with fear.
College rejection and acceptance letters are in the post this time of year. Our columnist drops truth on how rejection can teach us to find value in ourselves, and not in the affirmation of the decision-making process of an admissions department.
Wisdom on mortality from Ira Byock; a young woman’s reflection on magic and memory; Sharon Salzberg on recalibrating brain bias; and Krista’s five approaches to a wise life.
A look at icons in our popular culture reveals the crucial work of healing at the heart of the Muslim faith.
Drawing on the walking undead from “Game of Thrones,” Omid Safi comments on the stubborn disease of white supremacy, and on resisting its spread with the resilience of kinship and kindness.
We have charms to ward off harmful glances, but what might they teach us about more gracious and loving communication? Omid Safi studies the significance of the “evil eye,” and wonders if it can inspire us to better interaction.
From Game of Thrones to a biological time capsule in Norway, fascinating reads on what’s happening in our collective culture with wise meditations on mutual trust in our individual power to rise and thrive.
We lost a beloved cultural icon last week, and his life of work has inspired an outpouring of love in music and story. Celebrations of Prince’s life accompany praise for standing up together, in support of our strengths and growth from moments of weakness.
The digital sphere is a frontier where we assert our identities, and, in times of trauma, express our grief. With an appeal to the humanity behind this instinct, Courtney Martin questions how our empathy might become more than performance.
What gets lost when we erect a fortress around our children? A mother glimpses the beauty of trusting strangers around her daughter, and discovers the risk of losing the village to our own fears.
The busyness of modern life is ubiquitous. A Karachiite shares memories of her city and Catholic schooling and counters the archaic view that others take of the beloved city she calls home.
Some of our greatest cultural treasures are seemingly beyond reproach when it comes to honest criticism. Watching The King and I, a composer acknowledges the inherent racism and reflects on how we can appreciate its art and still question in ethical and moral shortcomings alongside its greatness.
Might we understand each other better if we dropped our assumptions and reframed the questions we ask? The contemplative season sparks ruminations on how we might be more generous in imagining our neighbors, and ourselves.
A young mother of twins returns to the comfort of the kitchen and cooking rice as she remembers learning from her own mother as a child, and revels in the unique tension between her desire for order and the joyful chaos that her children bring.
The hope for the future lies in the lyrics and the spoken words of Prince EA. See how wise and beautiful we are capable of becoming.
Studies show that increasingly fewer people are friends with our colleagues at work. Longing for more authentic work lives, a new wave of workers are shedding their corporate personas, turning to freelance work, and curating their own working communities in refreshing new ways.
Success so often is identified by how children transcend their parents’ class and collar. Rather than continuing this cultural narrative, could the future of work in America be more than just pulling up our bootstraps and climbing the ladder?
We don’t choose our family, as the old saying goes, but we do choose our friends. An encouragement to discover people to surround ourselves with and scout friends who beget our culture.
As part of a conversation with the Church of Ireland about the question of human sexuality, our special contributor confesses his “gay agenda”: to love the gospels; to love repentance; to love words and courage and my partner; and to show love to each other on our great endeavor.
An artist of the Bharatanatyam classical dance tradition, Ranee Ramaswamy reflects on how she lives forward the art and imagination of Rabindranath Tagore into the 21st century.
With folk-legend Pete Seeger’s passing, a scholar reflects on the fragmented history of American music. He envisions a new path for unity: a beloved community of musical voices allied in song.
A simple phrase quoted at a rural elementary school has us contemplating its meanings.
Pop culture makes meaning. Enter the Florida State University AcaBelles’ a cappella rendition of Lorde’s “Royals” to make the point.
Is this Hasidic man posing on a bed for an American Apparel advertisement a sexualized image? Sarah Imoff argues why the media fails to see the context and places the model — and the tradition — on a pedestal.
How has your religious identity changed? Does faith still play an important role in your life? Are you concerned that young people are leaving religious institutions? Join John Hockenberry today (Friday, October 18) at 2:00 pm ET to participate in a live online chat. Whatever questions or comments you have, we hope you add your voice to the conversation.
Three young Muslim-Americans — Kamran, Tasneem, and Zahra — struggle to reconcile their “Muslim” and “American” identities. Why don’t we hear more of this in the media?
Changes are afoot at On Being. A brief behind-the-scenes tour as we look for new creative space.
Talking with your pre-teen son or daughter can be difficult enough, says Naazish YarKhan, without adding terrorism and its misguided association with Islam to the mix.
In Ireland, former Catholics are rediscovering their religious beliefs and Irish heritage in pre-Christian spirituality. Shweta Saraswat and Tricia Tongco’s story on the reemerging presence of Pagan spirituality in Dublin.
Much has happened in so-called Muslim-Western relations in the last decade, not the least of which is the Arab Spring. Has the paradigm changed or does it remain same? A look to the ever-changing nature of culture.
Krista dishes on cooking with the BBC. We remember Roger Ebert’s smile. And thoughts on fear and grieving, the coming spring, and a culture of advocacy.
The so-called patron saint of the Mexican drug war finds a different breed of followers on the other side of the border.
Two hijab-wearing rappers dispel some misconceptions around gender + Islam while making music with a wide appeal.
As Latino Muslims grow in population, how do Americans make space in our minds for these new communities?
When Jews sing a niggun, Ethan Press writes, this wordless Jewish melody brings the singer into ecstatic union with the Divine.
Listen to our tracks from this late-night Sufi jam session in a studio barely a block away from the tourist-filled Hippodrome and Hagia Sofia in Istanbul.
Mormons are excoriated in popular culture (see: “The Simpsons”) for the way their church was created by someone who was kind of a con man. And the translation of the Book of Mormon was accomplished with a hat. And the Golden Tablets have been lost. Hmmm. The stone tablets of the Ten Commandments were misplaced, too. And a burning bush talking? Really? It comes down to faith, as it should. Not some sort of ignorant bigotry.
There are few people in the U.S. more beloved than Wendell E. Berry. The poet and essayist, farmer and conservationist delivered the prestigious 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts nearly a month ago — and it’s been bombarding my social streams and email inbox ever since, which, is to say, this sentiment may be truer than I expected.
I experienced Sarah Kay at a gathering on Nantucket Island last fall. Collected there were the CEO of Google, the founder of the X PRIZE, and an eminent Broadway director. But each time this lovely 23-year-old took the stage to perform a poem, the audience quieted, reflected, and delighted in a completely different way.
What do Justin Timberlake and On Being have in common? Jessica Biel follows both of us on Twitter. And it gets better. She’s been on Twitter since May 7th and follows four people — one being her fiance.
In the Sikh faith, the role of the nurturer is one, among many, of the celebrated roles of all Sikhs, regardless of gender.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions in society in general about what actually brings happiness, we’re caught up in all these ideas that having a lot of money or having somebody beautiful to have sex with or having some cool objects, having a cool car, cool stereo or whatever is gonna make us happy.”
I’m unsure of why Newsweek refers to these images as “photo illustrations” but I think they miss out on the complexities of the issues at hand when they frame it in this way. To be sure, I can understand why many people like these photos. They are stunning images; the article’s title is gripping.