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I am excited, and a little nervous, to share some big news. We are giving this adventure in conversation a new name. Starting September 16th, Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett is becoming Krista Tippett on Being.

This doesn’t signal a change in the nature or ethos of what we will continue to produce week after week. It is, rather, a more spacious container for what the program has become. Being makes room for the ways in which we have in fact opened up the concept of “speaking of faith.” It points at questions of “religion, meaning, ethics and ideas” at the heart of human life — not confined to Sunday mornings or Friday evenings, not on the sidelines of real life, but at the essence of who we are and how we live, individually and collectively.

We believe that Being is also a title with room to grow into, while Speaking of Faith has taken us as far in public media as it could. As much as we filled it with new meaning, the program’s title remained an obstacle for many programmers and listeners. The story we have heard again and again is that people have had to get over the title, or find themselves listening to the show by accident, before they were ready to give themselves over to our content. We have heard that, for religious and non-religious people alike, the title Speaking of Faith makes it hard to talk about the program with friends and family — to spread the word “virally,” as word spreads in our time.

This process of discernment that we might want and need to change the name of the program has been one of the most surprising learnings of the past year, which has been a period both of solidifying the program’s strengths and of continuing to experiment. The energy and possibilities it opens fill me with a new excitement for the next stage of this project and my passion for it.

Full disclosure: I did not have an immediate enthusiastic reaction to Being. But I have come to love the title. As I have settled into it, slept on it, practiced saying it in front of the vast array of shows we do, and realized all of its connotations, it feels like home. “Being” is an elemental, essential word. It was a catchword of the existentialism of the 20th century, and existentialism is making room for spiritual life in the 21st. It is more hospitable than the word “faith” for our non-Christian and non-religious listeners. It is, at the same time, an evocation of the primary biblical name of God. “I am who I am” can be better translated, I recall my teacher of Hebrew pointing out, as “I will be who I will be.”

As we were in the thick of this discernment, a mother wrote to us of how her teenage daughter has recently been drawn to our program. She commented on our blog, “It has been rewarding to watch her discover that unlike her subjects in school, religion cannot fit into a neat box. I’m sure she will tune in again as she continues to shape her own way of BEING in this world. This is certainly my hope.” The capitalization was hers. We take on our appeal to her, indeed our responsibility to her, as a great and edifying adventure — our next frontier of listening, learning, and public service.

Now I want to invite you, our listeners, to grow into this new name, this evolving identity, with us. Let us know how it sits with you, how you are hearing it, and what it means. And please come along on the next phase of this journey.


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430 Comments

I just read your book "Einstein's God", and came away with a wonderful reading list of interesting books. Without doing a "Winfrey", would it be comfortable for you to list the more interesting books you have read or are reading?

John Calvin

I understand the reasons for the name change but I find the new name less descriptive and less inviting for me personally than "Speaking of Faith". But, I'm still listening...

This is the New Coke of ideas. I've given myself a few weeks to get used to the new name, but every time I hear it I cringe. It's really awful, a big mistake.

Speaking of Faith said to those who feel that they "own" the discussion, no, there are other opinions, other ways to look at the same things. It is a head to head discussion, which can certainly lead to a heart to heart understanding.

Being? Being what. Sounds like you're afraid to admit that there is anything spiritual going on here.

I just honestly think it's a dismal mistake.

I feel the name change has drawn me deeper into the conversation and content of the program. It has enlarged the frame through which I hear and see the ideas you present. I have especially enjoyed your conversations with Jonathan Sachs.

We love the new name. It speaks to the vastly encompassing and ever-growing nature of the show and its wonderful guests. That messages of spirituality and "being" come from a broad array of minds and experience... scientists, philosophers, theologians, artists and beyond. Certainly each show leaves one with an illuminating and original insight into being.

So sad to hear about the name change. I must have been listening to a repeat the other day when I was reminded to listen in again. I have always enjoyed the show, but part of my fondness was feeling like I could be a part of a "faith" inquiry again. "On Being" doesn't sound like a show where I can hear Christian and Humanists and Scientists wrestle over hard things. On the up-side..."Journey" would have been worse. =)

I love the show but am also disappointed by the name change..."faith" inherently implies something beyond oneself, but "being" can easily be interpreted as being mainly or exclusively about the self. The relationship to community and to the divine is not necessarily implied. Surely the last thing America needs right now is further self-absorption.

Skimming all 411 comments, I conclude that Being is the best way to express the intent of this program. The reactions here are themselves a study on being-- human, that is.

Personally, I like the new name even though I had no problem with "Speaking of Faith."
Unfortunately, "faith" has, for many, taken on a negative connotation just as have the words
"Christian" and "Muslim." I am a retired United Methodist pastor and again and again I have
been embarrassed by the behavior of many Christians, especially by those who discount
the validity of other religions. Your program continues to feed my soul and mind.
Rev. Del Roper
Grand Island, NE

Thank you for this eloquent and illuminating piece on your title change.

"Being" couldn't be more apropos, Krista. Since it's root of all that emanates, the non-thing that we must know with our hearts, if we are to be fully alive. ~Ray Amarante, Jersey City

Here lies the problem...identifying a word to describe human's search to understand itself and its surroundings.

I, like most of the commenters below, am deeply disappointed with this name change. It makes me cringe everytime I see it in my "favourites" list and for this reason it's the first time I've been back in two months - I still can't bring myself to listen, though.
I read Krista's account and could not help but feel sorry for her as I realise the enormous pressure she must've been under to rid the program of any words that echo "religion", the word that so many in the western world have developed a societal phobia for. She speaks of the negative connotations of the word "faith", what is has come to be associated with, but doesn't consider that her program brought hope to many of us that there are still people fighting against those perversions, who recognise the transcendental quality of the word, its beauty and potential. She also hasn't considered the negative connotations of the word "being". Where do I start? I think the commentators below do a pretty good job, for my part I'll just say it sounds pretentious.
The name change is supposed to make the program more hospitable to those without any spiritual or religious inclination....but it makes it INhospitable to those of us, loyal listeners, who do have a faith or belief of some kind and feel that the importance of this is being (no pun intended) snubbed. To me, being is faith, so why hide that fact? Why sink down to the level of those who misuse it? Why bring down what used to be profound discussion into menial political debate, about terrorism, cultural conflict, etc...I thought one of the aims of the show was to show how faith can be experienced, deeply and positively, in spite of its negative public reputation?
I really hope you reconsider.

I would like to add this story as I feel it is relevant:

'One night four rabbinim were visited by an angel who awakened them and carried them to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven. There they beheld the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel.

Somewhere in the descent from Pardes, Paradise, to Earth, one Rabbi, having seen such splendour, lost his mind and wandered frothing and foaming until the end of his days. The second Rabbi was extremely cynical: "Oh, I just dreamed Ezekiel's Wheel, that was all, Nothing really happened!" The third Rabbi carried on and on about what he had seen, for he was totally obsessed. He lectured and would not stop with how it was all constructed and what it all meant...and in this way, went astray and betrayed his faith. The fourth Rabbi, who was a poet, took a paper in hand and a reed and sat near the window writing song after song praising the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, and all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before.'

It seems like the show has gone the way of the three other rabbinim - the first one nihilism, the second cynicism, and the third arrogance. Faith is surrendering to the beauty of the mystery of the cosmos, and enhancing our lives and selves with the wisdom we find. We cannot escape our 'being' in order to understand it.

Being. Ontological Being opens us to the breath of life, the fury of motion and passion, fear and future that span within us a gulf of quaking nothingness from out of which, through which, in the fleshy depths of which our life lives, our humanity lives, our participation in the cosmos lives and lives . . . Being contains within it both the silent whoosh of this breath and also the winds of the unknown, which interpenetrate us invisibly, changing us and lighting fires to us with a force unknownable yet Real.

Faith. Being contains mystery, but Faith confronts mystery. Faith begs questions that cannot be answered and in doing so reintegrates the horror of an unknowable Beyond back into the humble humanity of our daily lives. Faith does not sit on an agnostic fence, peering into the abyss. It leaps into the abyss, devouring it, domesticating it, weaving myths and yarns out of its inspiring mystery. Faith gives Being a voice with which to speak to children.

Being opens the door wide open. Faith shuts it carefully behind, lights the hearth, and turns its face warmly toward the family.

Beautifully put, and true. Being is distant, faith is intimate.

Some people might feel that the word "faith" is tied to religion and its connection to religion is lost if we cannot use it. In the beginning of my listening experience I did not listen to an entire show because of the title, "Speaking of Faith." I thought here we go again... biased opinions of religion. But how wrong I was. When I gave the show a chance I realized that the show was so much more than the old title "Speaking of Faith" led me to believe. I applaud the show's new title change. "Being" allows us to "be" who we are at that moment. I look forward to listening every Sunday night to new and old thoughtful insights/expressions from all forms of spiritual being.

Regardless of what it's called, I love this program and am glad its still a part of NPR programming.

Shouldn't it be "becoming" and not "being"?

I love the name change. Inspirational. Being is much more fundamental in man's knowing,or unknowing. As Heidegger said, "Why are there beings at all, instead of nothing?" Being, to me, drills the questioning to the very essence of the mystery of everything.

Dear Krista:

I cannot help but recall when, I think it was, the Esso oil company changed its name back in the 1960's. "Tony the Tiger" was their animated spokesperson, and his summary of this change was ,"We're changing our name, but not our stripes." Perhaps it's time to resurrect Tony the Tiger to help you out with your name change.

Unfortunately, I find myself neither compelled by your reasoning for a name change, nor comfortable with the name you have selected. In fact, I would go so far as to speculate that this was more a marketing decision than an expression of purpose or intent. ( Full disclosure: there is a great deal of marketing required by my job too.)

In short, faith has always been, for me, the most poetic of words. It is a word that envelopes the full spectrum of life's experiences, and allows for the breadth and depth of views. One of the great rewards of lisiting to Speaking of Faith is to realize the capacity of people to relate to something beyond themselves, in such a wide swath of ways.

On Being is a very difficult phrase to speak. Can you imagine how it is to say, "I'm turning on On Being?" Very few titles of note begin with a preposition, or are easily spoken.

But what really concerns me is that in making this decision to move away from speaking of faith (lower case intentional) you seem to have embraced the cliche that "faith" is limiting, rather than to celebrate the reality of how you and your program, Speaking of Faith, have expanded the very experience of faith in the 21st century.

Ultimately, I find it a regretable decision.

Mickey Myers
Johnson, VT

Krista,
First I want to thank you for your excellent program. I am very upset with your new name change. It appears as if you have caved into those who have no belief in any force or essence beyond their limited five senses. On Being by itself is a meaningless phrase. It cannot stand alone and give anyone any idea of what your program is really about. You have made a bad decision to cater to the demands of the non-believers. What do you think is going to happen to the large number of followers who are believers who will now believe that you yourself may be losing your faith? I hope I can still end this as I used to end letters to my close friends. No matter what happens on this issue, we love you Krista and,

Keep the faith,
Offie C. Wortham

Why the faithful are fleeing.......
I too, am disappointed with the name change. Besides throwing Mr. Williams out of NPR for not "Being"---PC enough" - shows the leverage of our culture. Faith, Orthodoxy, courage to pray...
Its 6:30 AM Sunday morning ...
--something has changed.
Sad

I heartily approve the new title for your program We live in a nation in which the word "faith" has taken on a rather restrictive meaning that implies (I think) convincing oneself to believe in that which one is not inclined to believe naturally. The mystery of existence is suggested in the word 'being'. and allows for inclusion of subject matter that is not usually considered 'religion'. Also, we have experienced such a hardening of theologies within the various churches that I feel it is time to bring into conversation the fact that we are seekers, butj that no one can ever fully plumb the depths of existence by can only think about it and discuss it. that no one can ever fully plumb the mysetery of existence, but only can discuss it. .

I think Being sounds too metaphysical for the show. I can imagine more people will be turned off by the title (can anyone really relate to Being? I have read Heidegger, Tillich, MacQuarrie extensively and I still don't know if I know what Being really is. Indeed, many of these authors were even trying to come to grips with ontology) because of this pseudo-mystical title rather than one which most people live everyday: faith. Besides, there is an entire strand of theology/philosophy which does not want to talk about God and Being at all (whether this is even a possibility) so have we taken God out of the subject of this programme? Stick with the old title. Less confusing.

NPR in NYC used to carry your show, Speaking of Faith at six in the morning, saturdays, I think. Not exactly prime time (I'd get up regularly to go to the farmers' market-had done for years), but waking up much too early on Saturday meant I needed coffee and some noise. The radio was the noise.
I do not particularly like the word faith. I lost it in politicians years ago; I have heard it far too often used by Christians, Jews and Muslims to cloak their particular brands of prejudice. Nonetheless, there are people with faith, whom I would describe as those who appear, truly, to love other human beings and actually devote themselves to supporting others, the support called love, and ascribing much of what they do and feel to a God.

I started listening seriously to your show during an interview you did with a
roman Catholic nun. I simply heard intellegence and goodness and proper focus from her. She was a woman I could pick up a shovel for, and dig. Now, I am jewish. Moreover, I am a very secular jewish man. I did major in philosophy in college, and primarliy was interested in the existentialists. Heidigger, the German author of Being and Time was also a nazi sympathizer, maybe a nazi, I must say I've forgotten. Sartre and Camus were in the Resistance. Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness. I don't recommend either book as light reading. But the Frenchmen-and women-were tied to humanity, and the Heidigger work, in its best light, is purely abstract. Wagner, loved by the nazis, was an anti-semite, and Nietsche was used by them, inappropriely, I thought,as the justification of theit concept of the superman. Now, had the nazis stuck to the correct (marvel comic) good guy we all know is the superman, history might be different, but they didn't.

I think my point is that the word being is not one that has been particularly well defined. I think you have the same right all the afrementioned had to try to define the word. It is a mystical one. It certainly can be a religious one.

I do believe being is a deeper and broader word than faith. I am sure you know the homily "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" Now, you've got a show title where you may, in fact, need to do both. Good luck. You are no longer in teh 6 am slot here in the city, but I will be looking for you

yours, rd coleman

As a regular meditator and student of Buddhism, I love the new name of your program. The show never fails to stimulate spiritual thinking in me and offer new insights. My background is Roman Catholic, Jewish and Protestant, and my choice is agnostic Buddhism, but I am open to all ideas that lead to a peaceful, loving world population. Compassion, generosity, patience and mindfulness will gently take us to this goal.

I still find it unsettling that the new name is so completely vague about its intentions!

What in life is not about "Being" and what program on public or commercial radio is unconcerned with "Being"? Being in sports, being in local or international affairs, cooking, entertainment, etc, etc, etc. All of these are concerned with "Being" but are straight forward with their expression of what aspect of being they are concerned with.

It seems to me that the program continues to orbit the topic of Faith. What the guests continue to address is their Faith, that is to say- what they believe and how they interpret their experiences and knowledge of life.

The empirical (certainly important) is not the focus, but rather, guests continue "Speaking of Faith" but the title is no longer honest about what it is doing!

I like Speaking of Faith so much better than On Being but I can understand why you made the change. I feel so sad that the name Speaking of Faith got in the way for some people.

I had lapsed a bit in my listening, and was surprised to come back and find this name change, b ut all the experiences you describe were ones I had as well.  Talking to my mostly-atheist family about the wonderful ideas and conversations you present was difficult at best, and impossible at worst.  May the new title allow more conversation and discussion in more families of all persuasions, religious and non-religious alike.

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