Hi all. We receive a lot of glowing comments and rich stories about the impact of the show on people’s lives. We also get the occasional e-mail from a listener who calls us to task on a particular point (e.g., Why didn’t Krista push Brooks on…) or on covering more minority religions (Zoroastrianism for one) and so on and so forth.

But yesterday this e-mail from a listener in California got passed around (the links are mine):

“You have become increasingly irrevelant lately…..Your program used to have insight and focus in positive directions. The last interesting show to me was when you were mediating the three evangelicals. Everything since then has lost focus and energy.

“Lets hear an interview with Barbara Brown Taylor or that Muslim woman who is trying to increase women’s rights within that religion. Try interviewing some people who have made or are making a difference in society. You used too….Parker Palmer was a great interview, so was Jean Vanier…Do something on Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen….Let’s hear from some person who is making a difference in the Hindu world….

“All of these esoteric ‘ideas’ you’ve been engaging lately have become impractical and again, just plain boring.”

Our production team debates the merits of these types of critiques to varying degrees. One staff member said we should take her comments to heart and consider our show mix. Me, well, people like Merton and Nouwen have been on our big list for a while, along with many others. Maybe we should push for them nearer to the top. But, the “three evangelicals” program with Colson, Boyd, and Claiborne was broadcast 16 months ago! Haven’t we produced any shows that were relevant and practical — and interesting — since that time?”

I have a list that immediately comes to mind. But I’m on the inside. What critiques do you have? Do you agree? We’re here to serve you. Let us have it, but, please, be kind and I promise I won’t bristle.


Share Your Reflection

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58Reflections

Reflections

I LOVE your show. I really appreciate the way you interview, you show such appreciation and interest in each person and I don't see a bias. I have no idea what your personal beliefs are...which is a good thing. I am able to appreciate and learn from so many diverse points of view. As a Unitarian Universalist this is living my religion. I have never been bored by your show. I don't have a critique, just a keep up the good work.

Thank you, Mica. Our upcoming podcast/radio broadcast hour of Revealing Ramadan features the voice of a Turkish Muslim poet who told us that it's in a UU church in Boston that he's best able to live out his Muslim faith and identity.

I find the program a good mix - sometimes I like an episode, sometimes I don't. My favorites - I think within the last 16 mos (if repeats count) - include the Niebuhr episode and the interview with the fisherman. I also appreciated your exploration of spirituality in TV programs and the enticing notion of "Novelist as God". I was so impressed with "Economics of Trust" that I listened to it twice in the same day!

Jonah, thanks for mentioning particular shows. The interview with Paul Zak almost didn't make it to production. Sometimes it takes the savvy ear of our managing producer to say that an interview is worth taking a second listen to. Many others agreed with your assessment, especially during this time of economic uncertainty.

James Prosek was a show that was five years in the waiting. I'm really glad Krista chose to interview him. Cheers.

I've become a dedicated listener after first discovering the program by accident. The first episode I tuned into was Sherwin Neuland on The Biology of Spirit. Since then I make a point of researching the archives daily and listening to all the programs, some multiple times. SOF has been life changing. I am not certain what the writer meant when he described your subject matter as esoteric. First you are introducing diverse ideas to a very wide audience and secondly nothing has been presented in a manner hard to understand. I hope you don't change anything. It is my Church, replacing irrelevant and boring doctrines.

That's great to hear. Our latest release of the show with Dr. Nuland has garnered more positive attention and feedback this time around than when we first released it. It goes to show us that the long tail of content rings clearer at certain times and periods of one's life.

Hi Trent Gilliss

I disagree with the emailer. I had to go back 22 months in the archives to find a show that I could wonder as to whether or not it was worthwhile doing. But I love the emailer for expressing her/his views. Openess is a speaking of authentic faith.

ciao,
Raymond

OK, Raymond, you've got me with that tease. Which one? *grin*

Hi Trent, Whooops!, I did not think anyone would call me on my hyperbole. But as a penance I promise to try and find a show in the archives that I don't care for.

I couldn't agree with your listener's comments more. You're about to lose me as a listener.

Kari, we'll work hard to keep your ears tuned in. And thank you for submitting a response to our Revealing Ramadan invitation and agreeing to be interviewed for the podcast. My best to you and your family during this holy month of Ramadan.

Trent,
How lovely that you would reply to my criticism. I feel rather chagrined! I should have written that I so appreciate the Ramadan Revealed podcasts, and wish I could hear more Muslim voices on the weekly show. They seem very far and few between given that Muslims comprise of over 1.4 billion souls on the earth. Additionally, Islam is widely recognized as the fastest growing faith in America–while many other traditions are losing followers, we are not.
Krista's interview with Dr. Mattson was wonderful, and I appreciated the interview with Eboo Patel, and there are so many, many interesting Muslims in America, doing so many incredible things, I hope that you are inspired to find more of them in the future. I have plenty of ideas if you need them!
Thank you again for your kind reply.

Kari AnsariEditor, America's Muslim Family Magazinewww.americasmuslimfami...

I don't think the person posting this critical evaluation was quite' on the money.' Perhaps frustration has just be building, and she needed to state her case.

If you are planning on a program devoted to Merton, try to include Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault as a guest. Not only is she quite familiar with Merton, her inclusion of recent finds (Gospel of Thomas, ...) is quite refreshing with seeing Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher. That will not be "increasingly irrevelant"!!

Suggestions for guests to speak about specific topics is always appreciated. Tak.

You are modeling something as important, if not more important, than your content mix. You are showing us all how to encourage honest criticism and how to grow a community of freedom wherein people have permission to speak the truth as they see it. Thanks for highlighting one of your critics. Clearly, the voice is a minority voice. You have other measures, including the positive comments below, to "prove" that. However, taking it seriously, thoughtfully, will improve your programming in the future. Others follow the 20/80 rule. Jesus had that pesky 99 and 1 rule. And this dialogue is a chance, also, to see Karma at work.

As for the evangelical program, I think the problem may have been format. I think panels get boring easily or else are shouting matches. I was not engrossed by it, either, but I do think it important for your show to include evangelicals, especially in the Emerging Church movement and in the Sojourners community, but also the Rick Warrens, etc. Progressive Christians and, even more, secular humanists have very little understanding of the nuances and complexities of the evangelical world. You need to keep helping your audience understand these and keep reaching out to the segments of the evangelical world for whom your show is much a breath of fresh air as it is to a Muslim or Hindu American who finally feels connected, understood.

Thank you for your insights and advice Shirley. Even if people or staff disagree with certain perspectives, we do take them seriously and use them as a catalyst for new discussions that may not surface during the day-to-day deadlines we face.

I think the listener above truly enjoyed the Three Evangelicals program, and we know that a lot of people visited the Web site to watch the video of the discussion. One of the things we heard from people is that they found it refreshing to hear the diversity of opinions and approaches -- biblically and culturally -- within the Evangelical community.

One of the editorial discussions we've been having are finding those more conservative voices from many traditions who speak personally and earnestly about their personal moorings and why it's critical to their perspectives on all types of issues. We will keep working at that. Cheers.

Thank you for your insights and advice Shirley. Even if people or staff disagree with certain perspectives, we do take them seriously and use them as a catalyst for new discussions that may not surface during the day-to-day deadlines we face.

I think the listener above truly enjoyed the Three Evangelicals program, and we know that a lot of people visited the Web site to watch the video of the discussion. One of the things we heard from people is that they found it refreshing to hear the diversity of opinions and approaches — biblically and culturally — within the Evangelical community.

One of the editorial discussions we've been having are finding those more conservative voices from many traditions who speak personally and earnestly about their personal moorings and why it's critical to their perspectives on all types of issues. We will keep working at that. Cheers.

I find the comment a little confusing. Does this person intend their assessment to be just of broadcasts or of new programs from this year? It seems like Repossessing Virtue and The Ethics of Aid are both practical and timely. I'd noticed the number of repeats which I take to be part of production time and summer schedules (by the way, the production value of your program is one thing that helped make me an instant fan when a friend introduced me to the broadcast). I'll always listen to rebroadcasts of Thich Nhat Hanh, which makes a practical difference in my life each time I listen.

As to 'ideas', I'm not clear exactly why that should be a criticism of a program in which "ideas" is one fourth of the stated program coverage (religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas). I can sympathize with the desire to hear about changes in lives, but I also think this is going to be change centered around ideas when the nature of the program is what it is. I'd love to hear a program on Thomas Merton but how that is more "relevant", I don't know.

Perhaps this is my bias, I like the "ideas" part of the show as well as the "relevant" part of the show (here I mean only to use the terms to describe what I imagine the listener is referring to, I don't know how I would separate the program contents into these categories). One critique might be that the variety of listeners you attract puts a burden on you to keep the mix of shows as diverse as the audience and that lately is has had a slant toward one set of listeners. I generally take it that if a program is not my cup of tea, it will still have something interesting that I might take away. Also, no one forces me to listen. I feel free to skip a show or two if I'm not that keen on the topic.

I admire your taking of criticism to the program content seriously. That said your programing has allowed me to find God in different places and in forms I had not experienced nor been able to express adequately. He has been in the Muslim voices that visit daily through Rahmadan this year. He has been in the Garden and in the middle of streams in different guises than I had experienced before. I have gained new insights on our presidents spiritual focus. How difficult it can be for an author to set up and alternative universe while trying to find God herself. I found a modern monastic who has now challenged a congregation to do church rather than just be in one. All through your program.

I am a fan for sure. That distinction is not earned easily. I hope that the voices of satisfaction are heard as loudly as those of criticism. Please keep up the good work.

What makes this criticism builds something constructive is the motives and intentions of our hearts. At a time when the world is facing a questionable future, I feel a momento (memento mori) to move to other level of consciousness. That kind of earthy, reality-based mystery is not interesting any more for people like me. Once you leave everything in this world to follow and become as Christ, the very down to earth stuff makes no relevance anymore, but entertain many anyway.

I don't necessarily agree with the email, but I have noticed the power of certain broadcasts. In retrospect and after reading some of the comments, it has occurred to me that 30-40% of your guests are TRUE teachers of the...spirit. I have found that 1 out of every 20-30 people in daily life are true teachers. Your odds are higher because of the company you keep.

I listen mostly in my car and often on my iPod. Many days I can turn the show off with my car engine or hit pause. But there have been days when I have sat in my car, after having reached my destination, through the show's end. And on those days, my face is beaming and the tears of joy are streaming down my face. All is right with the world.

The kicker? The topic doesn't seem to make much difference.

peace to all***

I find the following dilemma interesting:

On the SOF facebook page Susan Yost writes:
"SOF has always been a source of inspiration and rejuvenation for me. I always turn to it in my darkest hours for a hopeful message. I appreciate Krista's consistently thoughtful, open discourse, in a world where people so readily judge and condemn others for having a system of beliefs or path to spirituality that is outside the mainstream. I also find it a trustworthy, unbiased resource for learning more about different cultures and faiths."

I like this. But I also sincerely want to hear some interviews with folks who will speak for those millions who tell me that, outside their particular faith tradition, I will not be saved.

In Steven Wasserstrom's book "Religion After Religion" he declaims Mircea Eliade religious universalism, what Joseph Cambell calls the “monomyth.” The monomyth is the idea that all religions point to an equally valid central truth, and therefore no beliefs should be condemned.

I find the monomyth appealing, but I also think I can learn something about my own human psyche from folks with quite vehement sectarian views. If I am not mistaken, there is a aversion (understandable) on public radio and perhaps on SOF toward allowing those with strong sectarian views to present their beliefs, or at least those specific beliefs that include a faithful condemnation of other peoples’ religious (or irreligious) beliefs.

ciao,
Raymond

I've enjoyed most of the programs this past month. Ones that stand out in my memory are Niebuhr, Economics of Trust (which I listened to twice), James Prosek, and spirituality of TV.

It sounds to me the writer of the criticism is looking for more fire in the social-change arena. The "gay argument" is stale, the American conservative/liberal controversies haven't recovered yet from the presidential election so they remain primarily political, and things have gotten predictable in the Middle-East. Of course we're bored.

I thought the Anchee Min interview was a bright red spot on a field of more muted tones (I loved it). If you want to keep this kind of reader (as I see the email) satisfied, perhaps something to the tune of working to understand the religious underpinnings of the Chinese human rights practices might hit the mark. I wonder, in the same vein, exploring the religious motivations of atrocites in general or specifically (crusades, holocaust) might create a splash, as it were. Perhaps another dig in the dark might provide some perceived needed contrast to the light so many of us appreciate.

I'm glad you've taken the criticism to the mat, if not to heart. Try not to stifle the development of the show in it's course of growth, though. It's a creative endeavor, and when you're in the thoes of the grind it's easy to forget you're just helping something bloom. I'm also glad to see that people are willing to take the time to thoughtfully try to help construct the show in this way. What a fantastic paradigm you've created.

I take it back. I missed the Torture show. The first MPR broadcast is during church, and the second is during my kids' bath time, and being a parent, I have a hard time scheduling time to listen to a download. My reflection/idea, in retrospect, should have focused more on the contrast. The Anchee Min interview was so beautiful in part because of it's contrast, it's hope. The pursuit of social change, as I read this critique, has that same quality.

The Parables of our Time was about as "relevant" as it gets. Granted, all I watch is Word Wolrd and Curious George, but I'm guessing just short of a billion people are getting spiritually fed partly through their TVs.

I'll stop thinking via my keyboard now.

I began listening to SOF approximately a year ago, so I have little to offer when it comes to comparisons to mid 2008 or earlier.

That being said, I have realized within the past few weeks that my interest in SOF is more than simply audio content to drown out the sound of angry talk radio. Without being consciously aware of it, I've been on a spiritual journey, and SOF has been a tremendously important part of that.

These programs have been particularly meaningful to me:
Parker Palmer and his words on depression (both the original interview and the Repossessing Virtue interview)
President Carter speaking about his personal faith
Thich Nhat Hahn - he speaks so quietly in this episode ... I enjoy finding still, quiet moments in which to listen intently (you HAVE to ,,, otherwise you can't hear him)
The episode on children and play
Listening to Joe Carter's rich voice singing and speaking of AA spirituals
Interview with Dr Oz about the intersection of medicine and faith
Rumi
The Alzheimer's episode

I wonder if the dissatisfaction might relate to a slight change in focus ... from "experts" who speak with confidence and authority to "regular people" who speak of the struggles in their day to day life.

I appreciate the work you do a great deal. Now that my sons no longer have early Sunday hockey practices, I listen almost exclusively by podcast, so I do see that there’s some repetition (in fact, a small technical request – if you repeat a show, it shows up as “new” because it has the new date on it – is there some way to mark the date without having a show appear twice or more on the list?).

I love the feature on Ramadan & I’m wondering whether you couldn’t do that for other holidays, especially the non-Christian ones, but even Christian/American ones like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, or Martinmas have interesting lessons. In fact, anything that could get us past the goo of Christmas would be great.

I liked your show with John O’Donahue – can you do additional ones with poetry? That’s so well-suited for radio. Maybe Harold Bloom on the Book of Job? Or something on Blake? What about spiritualism? Although ultimately, the anti-science bias became too much, our kids attended a Waldorf school for awhile. Rudolf Steiner, agree with him or not, was certainly an interesting guy and some of his work lives on.

I appreciate the international focus of the show – when I was in college I took a course on Bhakti poetry & there are some marvelous translations – Denise Levertov did one. http://books.google.com/books?...

Your show on the novelist reminded me of a book by Dorothy L. Sayers called Mind of the Maker. Her views would make an interesting show, perhaps? Thanks for what you do & bon courage.

The e-mailer certainly makes an interesting point. I think there has been less content lately focusing on the social action aspects of some faiths. But to me, that's not all the show is. I don't expect that all the time, and I would grow weary of that just the same.

I think it's important to have some of the more contemplative, less practical conversations in the mix as well. Perhaps lately the episodes have become weighted in that direction and there needs to be a balance shift...it's something I hadn't given much thought until now.

Either way, I enjoy the bulk of the material you put out, whether or not it has a practical element.

I listen to your program every Sunday, either on air or via podcast. They are all very good. If I could make a suggestion, I'd like to hear a series from just regular folks, of varying faiths and spiritual backgrounds, on what their particular beliefs mean to them.

If you're going to do programs regarding the Muslim faith, you may want to contact Reza Aslan who spoke eloquently on the topic at a Westmnister Town Hall Forum awhile ago. Additionally, Queen Noor would undoubtedly have much to add. (We just don't hear enough from her!)

I especially enjoyed the Niebuhr conversation, Thich Nhat Hanh, Anchee Min and President Carter.

I know this isn't the point of the email, but I would also love to hear a show with Barbara Brown Taylor. She gave a talk in my neighborhood on Sunday, and she was delightful. She discussed the meaning of church and how she writes for what she calls "church-hurt" people. A funny, warm woman, and a very impressive intellect.

Here's another vote for Cynthia Bourgeault. I'd love to hear her on the show, too.

I've been listening for less than 16 months and have found a number of shows to be very meaningful - the interviews with Thich Nhat Hanh, Xavier Le Pichon, and Seane Corn standing out the most. As a rule I'm more interested in deep, personal experiences than in "issues" like torture or poverty - but as long as there's a healthy mix I'll keep coming back for more.

For me, the problem is that the show has become overedited and way too slick. Krista has maybe two or three exchanges with the guest, then you break away with yet another repetition of who the guest is and what he or she has written (once at the beginning of the show is enough!) or a quote from another part of the interview or a reading or some music. A little of this might be okay, but it seems like everytime you get some momentum going, some movement in an interesting direction, there's an interruption, and when you pick up, you're on another topic. I think this is where focus gets lost.

For me, the problem is that the show has become overedited and way too slick. Krista has maybe two or three exchanges with a guest, then you break away with yet another repetition of who the guest is and what he or she has written (once at the beginning of the show is enough!) or a quote from another part of the interview or a reading or some music. A little of this might be okay, but every time you get some momentum going, some movement in an interesting direction, there's an interruption, and when you pick up, you're on another topic. I think this is where focus gets lost. Just talk to each other!

I don't think your weekly programs are boring at all. I look forward to getting them online Friday mornings and save most of them. I'm so glad you ae repeating John O'Donohue's program next week. I know of many who have been profoundly affected by his presentations and writings, myself included. I appreciate the broad expanse of your programs. The suggestions made in the critique were good.

Your forays into the economic crisis and associated relevance of our moral response to it have been valuable to me. Similarly discussion on the research about happiness and quality of life which always has some intersection with morals and ethics, has been enlightning.

I appreciate your extension of the concept of faith being more than religosity per se but being more ecological in nature which opens the dialog for the many other systems that influence our spiritual sense.

I don't think that all programs have to appeal to me everytime. However I do find myself listening to archived programs later that did not appeal to me at the time of original release, which says that your vast library of programs is treasurable and perhaps can be appreciated when I have an openess and need to explore.

I enjoy SOF, but as I reflect on my recent listening, I haven't been as engaged, which I hadn't really reflected on until now. I like the breadth of stories told, the people who you engage, and can enjoy even some of the more esoteric ideas. One thought I've had, is at times, I'm not sure SOF is engaging with the folks who are actually in faith communities. The beauty of the run-of-the-mill stuff that is the essence of how most folks practice their faith. Weekly worship, sacraments, formation, acts of compassion, a commitment to a locality. I think, you should consider engaging folks at where they are at. I'm at a small church in a rural community, do we have a story? Or Muslim teenagers in the US? Or a struggling monastery? I will continue to listen and support SOF, as I think you all do a wonderful job and the podcast makes it available to me, even when it is not carried by my local public radio station. I appreciate that. Thanks & Peace.

I used to listen every Sunday morning, as michiganradio airs it early and I would awaken to it. Often now, though, as my sleep patterns have changed, so I may not have yet awakened, or perhaps I nod off back into sweet sleep while Krista and her guest(s) are still murmuring quietly in the background.

I do read every email notification regarding upcoming programs and listen to the podcast if I missed the Sunday show and if it sounds interesting. Sometimes I also go listen to archived programs and/or read other things on the site. What is dismaying to me is how often programs are repeated. This makes me wonder why--if perhaps there aren't as many people to interview, not as many new ideas, you're only looking for "famous" people?

I haven't minded listening to any of the programs, and typically enjoy them (rather than just not mind them). Still, I cannot say that I am all about fishing, nor that I am all about gardening, so the topic might not attract me and I may lose interest midway through, but isn't this true of anything for anyone? To each his own, a chacun son gout, and all that jazz.

I think the name of the program should be the driving force for content--whoever's on, whatever you're talking about, you're talking about faith and how it intersects that person's life.

Hi, I agree with the critical listener but I'm not sure if it's me or you. SOF became very important for me around 2004 through 2006 during the illness and death of a close family member (the hospice broadcast especially, amazing timing) but it began fading out for me around the end of 2007 to the present day. This coincided with the end of grief so I've assumed the show stopped working for me because I'm back to my normal self. I had an interesting "religion appreciation phase" for awhile there and it was surprising and important. I sort of miss it. I have wondered if SOF has spread itself too thin with so much multimedia, or if I'm only open to religious or spiritual concepts during times of great personal loss. I also wondered if SOF lost momentum while KT was working on her book (there were a lot of rebroadcasts).

I will mention that I'm very interested in hearing about Karen Armstrong's new ecumenical project (I haven't heard anything more since her months ago appearance on Bill Moyers) and Robert Wright's recent media appearances about the evolution of god have been very interesting (I'm actually on the site today to see if I've missed him on SOF). Also in general I am incredibly interested in Martin Luther King's classical education (I'm only now realizing how deeply he studied the ancient writers) and its relationship to his spiritual and political world, including the influence of Ghandi (the Thich Nhat Hanh broadcast first drew me into SOF--and made me aware of MLK's relationship with TNH).

I'm also interested in how major faith traditions have a tradition of creating very effective systems of education worldwide, from elementary schools to universities. This is true of the Catholic school system in America, which has parallel success with the development of the American public school system (especially in immigrant education), but in many urban areas today the Catholic schools have better outcomes. Can the public schools apply lessons from religious school systems yet maintain a good balance between church and state? America's elite private universities all started out as divinity schools or with other close ties to a particular faith tradition. So I'm curious about how the major faith traditions have the capacity to produce great secular thought. How do faith traditions create academic excellence (or ignorance)?

Also I've heard that Sweden's strong social support systems (healthcare, childcare, vacations, etc) are the product of a secular nation that so deeply absorbed the social behavior of its traditional Lutheranism that the country was able to enact such successful policies when so few of its population remains religiously observant (from the book, The Swedish Secret: What the United States Can Learn from Sweden’s Story by Earl Gustafson, a former member of the Minnesota state legislature). I'm very interested in Swedish culture, especially now as our country debates healthcare reform.

Ok, those are my thoughts--and I blew through my lunch hour. :-)

Hi, I love what you're doing on SOF. I came to your site fairly recently and I am sorry I didn't know about you sooner. I enjoy your interviews. I always find something provocative to wake me up. I also love your recent commentaries section from listeners all over. I read many of the Muslim respondents on your recent "map" and I am grateful you included my words earlier in God as Novelist.

Maybe, and this is not self-serving, you should feature some people who are spiritually active who are not big names in the community, because we are myriad and I think it's not how much one is published but what one is saying and doing. So gather these rosebuds too as I would like to hear from the people in the streets who are deeply spiritual and who have fabulous stories to tell. INTERVIEW them! Studs Terkel did this and his books were beautiful and deep. We are all in this together.

I am in touch with some native American Indians and their feelings about the sacred, about justice, and truth, permeate all that they do. They truly "touch the earth". I have learned to look up the meaning of seeing an animal unexpectedly, a deer in the woods, an eagle perched on the posts by our pool. I feel the depth of this and they surely have accessed deep spiritual truths that have to do with the symbolic and beauty of these happenings. So many, many incredible people. Not everyone has written extensively but they are living lives that could be, incredible novels.

I am seeing a story, an ancient story, coded in words themselves, as secrete is to secret. Perhaps the biggest secret of all is being revealed, a story about LOVE. I do believe in the power of names and naming and I think it's time we asked the question, how is it we can do this alchemy with words themselves, constantly?

As dovetail is to carpentry, to pieces that fit together perfectly, so in the split, I am seeing a dove tale, about peace and like Teilhard de Chardin I too believe there's an arrow to evolution itself, as in the word love within the word, running backwards. I see movement. This story is about love and I believe, deeply, there is music running contrapuntally to all stories and that we are all connected in one vast fabric, that is slowly being revealed. There is a timetable to history.

I like this idea of talking with people who are not well-known nationally or internationally, but are making a big difference where they live. It might be interesting to do different pieces on several communities/towns/cities and talk to a few? several? people in that community about their faith and their work. As I write, I think of my own city, Little Rock, AR and think of Anna Cox, a Buddhist and psychotherapist who has done outreach to prisoners. I think of a co-worker who brings his spirituality to life by offering a therapeutic "Spiritual Values" group to veterans with PTSD. I could go on, but you get the drift. Thanks for opening the forum just to allow listeners to respond and offer ideas. I lover your programming and always find something to listen to whether it's the current program or an archived program I missed. SOF is there to feed me when I need nurturing. Thank you.

Hi Marymetta, I just received your commentary on my email and it's nice to know one's writing is being read, and that you share this same feeling, about including so many people in our lives, who are truly often invisible to the world at large but very great in terms of spirit, action, and how they affect us all.

We are all of us equal. I learned a profound truth a long time ago, and that is, the small things we do for each other are equal to anything big that is done, that we all recognize, that is published far and wide. We are all of us the family of man and all in this together. So the marathon IS the human race and I would say compassion and love is the laurel. So small IS big, and I do believe those who are stars, are only one of many in a firmament of stars. It's often darkness visible that brings in the light. I think we have opportunity to be angels for each other, oppor TUNE ity, and I do know for us all, it's about that music, about harmony and "unisong".

There is a river that runs out of Eden and what it carries is a profound truth about LOVE.

As we approach Thanksgiving I am thanking all those people who made my days, a little bit brighter, and as for those who gave me pause, who hurt me, I learned from this lessons in sensitivity, and so for everyone who was and is part of my story, I say, THANKS for bringing me to this place. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi Ruth,
It's nice to hear from a kindred spirit. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Theresa: "There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love." I, too, make the effort and intention to practice gratitude with and for those around me who make my life brighter and also to say thank you for those opportunities that I receive through things in my world that challenge and unbalance me. I love the SOF show and webpage for creating community in so many ways and I'm glad to have been in touch with you through this community.

May you continue to be aware of your rich bounty at this time of Thanksgiving.

Thanking you,
Mary

I used to listen to SoF infrequently, as it depended on my travel times; sometimes I couldn't listen to the radio. Early this year, I started using the podcasts, and I listen to most programs two or three times during my workouts. I am a fan, I guess. I will say that some programs have been more significant than others to me. But 90% of the time, I have found myself enriched by the content, and stimulated to explore other sources. I particularly appreciated the interviews on torture, Parker Palmer, programs on Islam. Even the programs I initially dismissed caused me to have at least some positive reflection. I subscribe to a dozen daily and weekly podcasts. SoF is one of the top 5 for me. I really like the variety and the quality of the questioning.

Thank you Krista, the production team and staff at SOF. I've been a listener for over a year. Most broadcast I download for road trip listening. I have not found any place where I can access a higher quality of content that at SOF. Repossessing Virtue brought me back from the brink of despair. You will never fathom how helpful just that one series of programing has been for me. Your guest have opened vistas of thinking and being I never thought possible. P. Palmer, Jon Kabit-Zin, J. Carter, V. Guroian, E. Tolle, Naom Remen, J. Hecht, A. Solomon, R. Bondi, A. Barrows, all of them accessible through SOF. All of them literally "casting life rafts". Many thanks!

Keep rolling with critical remarks be "Response-able," as OSHO would say, and continue to grow and explore, by the way, you're good at it.

Suggestions: Barbara Brown Taylor, Cynthia Bourgeault, Fredrick Buechner, Pema Chodron, Donald Miller, Ken Wilber, Chuck Poole, Roger Walsh,Frances Vaughan, David Hawkins, Thomas Keating, Jim Marion. All "heavy hitters".

'Bak' to the future: I was thinking, since you often interview men and women who have published on the subject of faith/spiritual issues, maybe you could interview some artists. For example, there is Samuel Bak who lives in the Boston area, an artist (born l933) whose work is riveting in its depictions of Holocaust-related subjects. For some his work is too difficult to contemplate in its anguish. What is he trying to tell us? Does he believe in God? There is so much art that is related to spirituality and we know, surely, that the crucifixion itself, resulted in art throughout history, including this day. A cogent book on the subject of pain and creativity, Enduring Creation, Art, Pain, and Fortitude by Nigel Spivey whose BBC series, How Art Made the World with accompanying book, is truly wonderful as is this book. I think any exploration of spiritual issues needs to confront the issue of pain in our lives, because suffering both turns us towards the Divine and also turns us away. How can there be a God that condones such suffering in life? Most arguments that are against the notion of Divinity do bring up this very difficult subject. Spivey begins his book with Auschwitz, the statement by Adorno, "All culture after Auschwitz.. is trash."

I think it would be wonderful to engage on these issues, and to engage with the contemporary artists of our time, whose works do bring us into contact with the ineffable, one way or the other, those eternal questions, who are we? where are we going? what are we doing here?

Think about it: Thou "art" and talk about it.

Just a suggestion.

Krista,
I discovered your program last winter and have been forwarding your programs almost weekly ever since. My circle includes people of many faiths and sharing the wisdom from your guests with them provides this irishamericancatholic (all one word) retired religious educator with a foundation for dialogue with them all. Thank you.

Thank you for asking the question! I'm a student in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and stumbled upon your broadcast of the interview with him on-line. I thought it was wonderful and have been listening off and on to your program every since. I read a lot of Buddhist texts and commentary- sometimes too much. When I listen to your program I appreciate being able to expand my view. I can see beyond my own faith and appreciate how we are interconnected.
As a Canadian I also appreciate hearing some of philosophical and theological issues in your country. It helps bring me deeper understanding of what goes on in American minds - something not really possible by way of popular culture.
I love so many aspects of your programs and I don't agree that it has wandered off into esoteric ideas. There have been strong programs about current issues recently.
But even if it had I wouldn't mind. Ideas and actions inter-are. I love that your program doesn't make excuses for delving deeply. I also enjoy that you don't make excuses for talking about social action. There are times when we create a dichotomy of these two things- either theologically oriented or social action oriented. What a blessing to listen to those people on your program that know they are not separate.
I too enjoyed the repossessing virtue podcasts (esp. Parker Palmer). I also enjoy the idea offered of speaking to ordinary folk about faith. I think this is relevant and helpful.
My wish is that there was simply more programming like yours.
Peace and Joy on your journey.

I mostly find SOF of strong interest--the recent interview w/the Kenyan man talking about development aid was REALLY IMPORTANT! But, I can see (to soem extent) the critical listener's point: hearing from people of faith who are "making a difference in the world" is very VERY much needed (and one hears too few of religious/spiritual people like that). I've really enjoyed hearing POETS on your program, too!
SUGGESTED GUEST: consider haivng on ROBERT JENSEN, oringinally from the Midwest, living/teacing now at the U of Texas in Austin, author of servreal books:the latest talks about his spiritual journey BACK to Christianity as a progressive activist. It's called ALL MY BONES SHAKE. I've interviewede him and here's his phone number & email: contact info:
Robert Jensen (512)471-1990
<rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu>

Keep on producing a wonderful show--and thanks for listening to your listeners!
Lydia Howell, Minneapolis,MN

</rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu>

I hate to say it but I agree with the commenter. I used to listen all the time but have found the topics less compelling recently. I love pieces about people living their faith. I have enjoyed ALL the shows pertaining to Islam; what could be more important in these times than clarifying a religion so misunderstood? This one about Ramadan is the first program I've listened to in a while and has brought me back in. You can do more pieces (please do) about Islam and Muslims. I loved and have listen more than once to the program with Thich Nhat Hanh. I enjoyed meeting Shane Clairborne in the show 'The New Monastics', Barbara Kingsolver in 'The Ethics of Eating", the Israeli and Palestinian friends in 'No More Taking Sides', 'Jon Kabot-Zinn's Science of Mindfulness', Mariane Pearl in 'A Spirit of Defiance', and so on - you get the idea. Topics relating to ideas such as 'faith and poetry' or 'faith and poverty' are less interesting to me.

I would love to hear a program about the Baha'i Faith and a program about the vegetarians who don't eat animals for spiritual reasons. Thanks for asking for our input. I do love SOF.

I am disheartened and profoundly sad for any SOF listener who finds boredom and impracticality in the program, the guest, or topic. It is my sincere hope s/he is able to find inspiration and personal relevance in the upcoming SOF programs or somewhere.

I am grateful to the SOF team and the individuals they so generously bring into my life each week. KT's thoughtful, inquisitive, personal tone shines throughout the interview conversations. That style of interaction grounds even the most invasive or challenging questions in a type of deep rooted respect for and understanding of each individual's humanity, struggles, and aspirations and by extension those of us listening as we struggle with similar questions, concerns, ideas, etc.

I've been a SOF listener for a while ...first just in the car (we live in such a rural area, the signal was not strong enough to access in the house) and now on line (wow!). I cannot think of a show that has not had relevance. Niebuhr, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eboo Patel, Seane Corn...and so many others - through you, they have touched and helped more than you can know. - with much gratitude, thank you.

Sometimes the awareness of personal boredom leads to deeper insights.

I am a big fan of the show but I haven't listened to the show lately because I haven't been interested in the topics. I do like the interviews with people like Palmer, or Marty. I would love to see one with Barbara Brown Taylor. Some I listen to over and over. The conversation about Niebuhr was great, the concept about play was intriguing. To be honest, I can't remember very recent shows that have grabbed me and excited me a lot.

I am am Australian who found SOF podcasts during a random search. I thoroughly enjoy all of the shows. I don't really "screen" them for interest but just listen and I have found that KT and everyone she interviews help expand my own view and my little world. I enjoy them so much that i listen to them time and time again. "Obama's theologian" was excellent. I find the variety of the content wonderful and so helpful in my spiritual journey.

I found SOF about a year ago and, after getting immense satisfaction from listening to archives, I formed a church discussion group around selected programs. After getting over the initial shock of just sitting back and listening (rather that watching), people loved it and are looking forward to more over this coming fall/winter.

I can't agree with the writer/critic on their comment about irrelevence. However I do have to agree that I get particular enjoyment and enrichment from the conversations with people who are sharing "real world" thoughts and experiences. People like Jean Vanier, Kate Braestrup, Robi Damalin, David Hilfigger, Majora Carter, Cal DeWitt to name but a few. There's a pithy, down to earth-ness about those conversations that, for me, is inspiring and thought provoking. As KT said once - " they don't say this is THE truth, they say this is MY truth and this is how I came to it". Judging from the animated discussion that follows, it seems my discussion group people are similarly enraptured.

That's not to say that the more "theoretical" conversations don't grab me too - I've listened to the programs with Polkinghorn and Armstrong for example more than once and really enjoyed them.

As a previous blogger said, perhaps the programs that interest us change over time depending where our personal circumstances find us. If so, that implies we need the variety you are providing. Please keep it up!

if I had a suggestion for future shows it would be to talk with more people about the intersection of faith and the environment. I've loved the shows with Kingsolver, Carter/Dewitt, Maathai etc but would love to see more on this subject as the envrironement seems to be an area that is now uniting people across all wisdom traditions. Someone like Sally Bingham for example.

Thank you to all at SOF

Hi,
I have been listening to the show for a couple of years; first on radio, now via podcast. I feel that my interest in a particular program is more a reflection of my own self - especially at that particular time - than of the relevance of a particular subject or the person presenting it. Sometimes I am not interested in the shows and so I don't listen. Some of the more enjoyable experiences I have is to be absolutely fascinated by a program that does not seem interesting at all from the email description.
I am a big fan of your show and quite willing to share and explore the directions that you all take each week.
Patrick

I haven't found any esoteric boring ideas on speaking of faith, and I rather like the mix. I do think it would be great, as I have said, to do more in depth interviews of people who are making a difference in their communities across the country, because there are so many, and I would say the deep words of people who write the books, are perhaps, not the only words worth recording and hearing. There is this apocryphal story of the great rabbi who had a destination and this was, to travel through the desert to speak to the great man. He had a camel driver and he ignored this man, leaving him unceremoniously behind in the shadows. He did not notice him. It was, actually the rabbi who was left in the dark, not realizing that the destination was behind him, with that camel driver.

The word camel itself can be deconstructed into two words CAME and EL and I am saying, that it is the small person, the one we often ignore as not important, who holds the keys to greatness of spirit, and perhaps a discourse on mystery, and spiritual truth.

Thanks to Mary for your beautiful words, quoting Mother Theresa and your own deep poetry of soul.

May you and yours experience a "full, filling Thanksgiving".

with best wishes to SOF and the programming that is deep and about spiritual truths.
I hope you adopt many of the suggestions on line to augment your show, and make it shine. As for Sweden, I lived there for two years as a child, spoke Swedish fluently, and, as a child, found myself in a wonderful place of trolls and magic. The Swedish system of caring for the elderly, for those who have various "handicaps" is truly beautiful. They do offer "social tours" and we can learn so much from programs that incorporate the elderly into housing for all ages, from gas station attendants who are hired when here they might not find jobs, and for the all around attention to life and how it should be lived, for everyone, with grace and dignity. That was my experience and I imbibed this, even as a child. All places have ups, and downs, but it is true that we have so much to learn from what other countries are doing, to care for those we marginalize. And this is deeply, about spirituality, and this in a country that doesn't practice that much, organized religion.

apples