On the Blog

February 16, 2008

Our program on the spirit of play continues to garner attention. This time Krista’s appearance at the New York Public Library with Stuart Brown is the entry point for Robin Marantz Henig’s long-form piece in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

The program’s trajectory has been a curious one, with a long tail no doubt. I watched the PUSH participants gasp in awe when Stuart Brown showed images of a polar bear and tethered sled dog frolick in the Canadian tundra. The collective sigh amounted to more than an “oh, isn’t that cute” sentiment.

February 11, 2008

Brian Lehrer interviewed Krista for his daily program on WNYC this morning. As a listener, I was appreciative that he read her book and asked open, insightful questions. (Sure, I’m guilty of being a little bit protective since I work with her. *grin*)

The interview generated some engaging — and sometimes loud — discussion on their Web site. You can listen to the mp3 and weigh in if you’d like. We’d like to read your comments or pose some questions you would’ve liked to have asked.


February 08, 2008

A reflection on how we talk about violence done in the name of a religion or ideology.

February 08, 2008

Anna Marsh, SOF's first production intern plays a mean game of Scrabble.I started in November as the show’s first-ever production intern. My time here has been brief but wonderful. You all should know that the people who create this show are every bit as bright, funny, insightful, inquisitive, and warm as you hope they are.

Two things brought me here: First, I am an unabashed super-fan of the program. Second, I am a student in my last year at Luther Seminary. My program there asks that I do an internship after two years of study, and I heard through a friend that SOF had one available — quelle chance! (Maybe three things brought me here, if you count dumb luck!)

February 05, 2008

I can’t afford — personally or production-wise — to be on the road much of the time. But Kate and I are on a thoroughly energizing, enjoyable trip right now. And there is something amazingly wonderful about getting out like this every once in a while and looking out, while I speak, at a room full of bodies and faces.

The radio program has grown so much in reach and carriage these past years, yet what we do doesn’t change much. We just keep trying to get better and better at our craft. We create these hours of radio and pages of web content, put them up on the Internet and satellite, and move on to the next topic.

February 04, 2008

Krista signs a book for one of her listeners.A fabulous turn-out yesterday at the National Cathedral. It looked like six or seven hundred people in the pews, filling the nave of the Cathedral for the Sunday Forum, during which Dean Sam Lloyd interviewed Krista — always a treat, I think, for the listeners to hear Krista’s take on the sorts of questions she puts to others. Keep an eye on the Cathedral’s site for video. (We’ll be getting a copy as well for possible posting here.) Also very nice to meet and work with our friends at WAMU on this visit, especially Andrea Travis, who really helped make it a fine event.

February 01, 2008

I enjoy the reporting of Sylvia Poggioli, NPR’s veteran European correspondent. She was formerly known in my household as “The Pope Reporter” because I often had the radio on when her stories on Pope John Paul II aired. (She was a guest on our program on the religious legacy of the late pontiff).

February 01, 2008

National Cathderal

Krista and I head out tomorrow for D.C. where we have another event in our 2008 World Tour, at the National Cathedral’s Sunday Forum. Our travels are exciting, and by far and away the best thing about them is meeting our listeners. It’s just an amazing gift. The event is at 10 am Sunday February 3rd, and is free and open. See you there!


January 30, 2008

Our managing producer takes a snapshot of the live event at New York Public Library and who showed up to talk about play.

January 30, 2008

Not a few days had passed when an episode of Mr. Rogers appeared on my family's Tivo as a suggestion. I don't know if PBS has just recently begun rebroadcasting the show, but I decided to see if my kids could connect with him, considering that they watch almost nothing but cartoons.

January 29, 2008

Flyer for Tom Stoppard's Rock 'N' RollTom Stoppard’s new play “Rock-n-Roll” is getting mixed reviews here, but tickets are scarce, so I was thrilled when my friend Chris scored some for us. This is Stoppard’s chronicle of the intersection of pop culture and politics in then-Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.

Stoppard, I learned from the program notes, was born in the Czech town of Zlin, where I — highly coincidentally — have a close friend, Hannah, who grew up there. Hannah, much younger than Stoppard, is a devout Catholic, for theological and political reasons (the Catholic Church was a staunch form of dissidence in parts of the East bloc).

January 28, 2008

One of our several stops today was Beliefnet, perhaps the largest website devoted to topics of religion and spirituality, where we experimented with some video shooting for one of their features. That’s a “stay tuned” for now, but we enjoyed working with their crew, and while there we stopped by the office of Steve Waldman, the co-founder and CEO, who has known Krista for some time. His book, Founding Faith, will be out in March. Waldman was our guest for a couple of election year shows four years ago, notably, Beyond the God Gap, and he has an unusually balanced and insightful view of religion in the political scene.

January 28, 2008

As Krista and I hop from meeting to meeting here in New York, we’re overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of listener response to our program on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’re receiving very positive responses from non-Mormons and Mormons alike, from those who know and have studied the church as well as those for whom this was an introduction; at the same time, some listeners have expressed concern that this program was not critical enough to be journalistically valid.

Speaking of Faith models a distinctive approach to journalism about religion. The ethic of the interview is informed by deep listening and informed questioning. That is purposeful, based on her sense that adversarial questioning simply puts the interviewer on the defensive and shuts down the possibility of authentic and genuinely revealing answers. There are many legitimate ways to approach the multitudes of subjects in the news. This approach works for matters as deep and sensitive as religion and what we believe.

January 28, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 25, 2008

I am a “faithful” reader of The New Yorker - for all the kinds of writing and reporting they do. They’ve also by the way had some brilliant pieces on religion in recent years, as the whole field of journalism catches up with this subject, its importance in human life, and the intellectual and spiritual content that has been missed by traditional journalism for too long. But this kind of list still puzzles and throws me - an announcement of a New Yorker conference on “the near future”, with:

“theorists, designers, economists, philosophers, ethicists, animators, inventors, musicians, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, scientists, artists, politicians, engineers, financiers.”

Where are the theologians? Why this assumption that philosophers and ethicists can hold their own in pressing, intellectual conversation - and have relevant and essential insight to add to the mix - and not religious thinkers?

On a lighter note, I love this spiritually profound and true cartoon.


January 24, 2008

Shiraz Janjua, Associate Producer

I spent many years absorbed in the world of comic books. Then, after a while, I got sick of the futility of the superhero genre, where nothing of significance ever happened to these heroes. We know that Superman is invulnerable, but most other characters have “character shields” too. You know this from Star Trek (which I also can’t stand): Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Ensign Smith descend onto a planet (you know what happens next). Nothing ever happened to Kirk or the others because they’re commercial properties, not dramatic ones. Commercial properties can’t die.

January 24, 2008

St. John's bell tower designed by Marcel BreuerI traveled this past weekend to the Guest House of St. John’s Abbey in central Minnesota. I’m about to head off on some travel for my book tour — part of me looks forward to this, part of me does not. It will be exciting and exhausting, and I have a speech to write. But really all that was an excuse to get back up to St. John’s, a place I visit periodically to get quiet inside. I did get a bit done on the speech, but more important than that I slept and read, prayed with the monks, and collected my thoughts.

January 24, 2008
January 23, 2008

While on vacation here in Oaxaca I was paging through a Lonely Planet guide on Mexico, trying to see about religious services and what the opportunities are for travelers. I was specifically interested in attending a Pentecostal service as it is the fastest growing denomination in Latin America, and I wanted to see how a service might be different from one in the U.S.

Aside from some general stats in the front of the book, there was nothing more than a museum-style treatment of old cathedrals, e.g. here is where you go to see this colonial-era cathedral, etc. Interesting that the editors would not think that travelers would want information of religious services, though, somebody (probably Zondervan) has that info covered in another guide. If not, there’s an opportunity there, I think.

When I have more time later, I will tell you the story of how our server at dinner last night just so happen to be studying to be a Pentecostal pastor, and he is planning to take us to his church on Sunday. What luck!

Off to sample the chocolate district of Oaxaca.


January 23, 2008

American Visionary Art Museum

American Visionary Art Museum

We occasionally receive press releases and program suggestions from listeners highlighting the many ways people are exploring the relationship between religion and art. It’s hard to translate visual art to radio, but we’re always talking about other arts programs, especially music, and our website opens up other options for us to consider. One recent alert came from the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore about their current exhibit: All Faiths Beautiful: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, Respect for Diversity of Belief.

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