Kate Braestrup with Game Wardens

I love this week's program with Kate Braestrup, chaplain to the game warden service in Maine. Simply, her practical theology just makes sense to me — a daily translation of spirituality into caring, useful, deliberate action. And I'm glad we were able to add a Unitarian Universalist voice to the many diverse religious perspectives we delve into, just in the way we like to, exploring that perspective through a person's “lived theology” (Krista Tippett phrase).

This was one of our programs that came together randomly and quickly. Krista saw a reference to Braestrup's memoir a few months back, and she was curious about her story and her journey to Unitarian Universalism. We got a copy of the book, and as I read it I was immediately absorbed by its reality and humor, and by Braestrup's wisdom, searching, compassion, and gutsy movement between grief and hope.

We booked the interview, grateful that our guest was willing to drive almost two hours from her small coastal hometown to Portland, Maine, so we could record her conversation with Krista via ISDN (the best broadcast-quality audio connection possible). Right after the interview, we decided it would be a good balance to the other voices, viewpoints, and topics we've done in recent weeks, so we front-burnered it into production. You've perhaps read other producers' accounts of how some shows take time to find the right voice or precise approach, brewing like sun tea to get the best flavor. Others are like good espresso — best when ground fresh and served immediately. To me, Kate Braestrup is like that fine espresso, giving me a jolt of optimism and inspiration. (Full disclosure: I don't drink coffee, but I was a barista for a short time).

We edited, wrote, listened, edited again, tossed around titles, planned content for the Web site. Mitch took cues from the interview and laid in Cole Porter music, but he wouldn't give in to the "Sweet Home Alabama" reference near the end. And we laughed questioningly at Kate Braestrup's description of a t-shirt one cop wore in a D.C. bar crammed with law enforcement officers — words I'm sure have never before been uttered on a Speaking of Faith program. Not suitable for radio, so you'll have to listen to the unedited interview to hear them.

I exit this program with a new appreciation for the work of law enforcement officers of all kinds who are theologians in their own way, as Braestrup describes:

"Law enforcement officers, like all human beings, are presented with grand questions about life's meaning and purpose. They consider the problem of evil, the suffering of innocents, the relationships between justice and mercy, power and responsiblity, spirit and flesh. They ponder the impenetrable mystery of death. Cops, in short, think about the same theological issues seminary students research, discuss, argue, and write papers about, but a cop's work lends immediacy and urgency to such questions. Apart from my familiarity with and affinity for police culture, I was sure working with cops would take me right up to where the theological rubber meets the road."

Share Your Reflection



Wow, what a job to subject one's self to. What spirit one must have to sustain one's self. I loved/believe the idea that life is not the counter-balance to death, but love is. I just happened to wake up to this program. Wow, what luck. Thanks.

I listened to the interview with interest and curiousity. She does not try to explain religion or God except to say God is good and in hard times God is in the people who help you or love you. Makes sense to me and truly a simple concept.
At time if hear a flippant tone in her voice and was not comfortable with that. Perhaps she or the interivewer would see that tone as outright or honest.

I feel so lucky, as I often do, to have stumbled upon Kate's interview. I am grateful to have had her memoir fall into my hands during a painful period in my life and hold it as one of the most honest I've read yet. Kate's directness and openness, and, yes, bracing voice, struck me through. Just the voice I needed and I continue to share her efforts with others. Thank you for giving her voice an audience. And, Kate, if you are reading, thanks for offering my humanity back to me.

I have enjoyed "Speaking of Faith" for a few years now, but the program with Kate Braestrup was a particularly beautiful broadcast. I saw reference to the upcoming program on Thursday, found the book in the library, read it before the broadcast, and the listened to the dicussion on a beautiful summer morning on my porch. Life doesn't get much better than that! Now I'm looking forward to hearing Barbara Kingsolver's program this week.

When the price of loving is hating yourself, human beings sometimes choose to direct the resulting frustration at others; what we call ‘evil’ is no more than frustrated love.

As painful and sad as it is to see these individuals and their behaviors for what they are, the alternative is to close our hearts and minds to the truth.

Truly God is love; and that love is the connection that binds human beings to each other; it is also the connection that binds human beings to themselves.

I lost my husband to a battle with depression. I am grateful for the work of first responders. How assute that the powers that be in Maine invest in clergy, in hand with law enforcement to help with those who have lost someone. Thank you for reminding the world of the imporant work being done by first repsonders-- and wrapping it all up with Kate's summation-love is what it's all about, and love is being there for one another..