Krista's Journal: An Evolving Sense of Pragmatism

July 31, 2008

I am moving into a new house this week, and e-mail slows down this time of year for all of us (or it should). So here's a shorter reflection.

This week's show is something a little different for us. We do, admittedly, seem to be saying that a lot in recent months. Our program with a range of lay Catholic voices was a total break in format, and my live conversation with three generations of Evangelicals was also like nothing we had produced before.

This conversation with Jonathan Greenblatt is a bit of a departure in that it veers quite far from any strict discussion of "faith." He inhabits a universe of "pragmatic idealism," of social entrepreneurship. His is a very different model of idealism and philanthropy than that defined by the 1960s, which shaped so many of us. But as I listen to him, and probe at times quite skeptically, I am glad to know that he and his peers are making their distinctive mark on the world. And though he is very much about commerce and competition, Jonathan Greenblatt reminds me intriguingly of the core pragmatism of other younger guests I've interviewed, who have more overtly religious callings — a Shane Claiborne, an Eboo Patel, or a Sharon Brous.

Recently a listener observed that many of the topics Speaking of Faith is taking on now are not spiritual, per se, but simply about ideas and practices that are "wise, realistic, and physically necessary." I think this reflects our evolving sense of what it means to be a program about "religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas" in the early part of this century. Week after week my interviews deepen my conviction that what is "wise, realistic, and physically necessary" must inform and anchor every spiritual idea worth its salt.

And now, speaking of physical necessity, I'm off to IKEA in my online editor Trent's pickup truck known affectionately (despite its carbon footprint) as "Black Thunder."

Enjoy your summer!

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is CEO of GOOD magazine and a lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He's also the co-founder of Ethos Water.