Show Archive

December 2004

12.30

Author Anchee Min has won acclaim for her memoir of growing up in China under Mao Zedong. She's also written several works of fiction in which she explores the human hunger to survive against extreme social brutality. In this conversation, Anchee Min tells us what she learned about the human spirit in the forced labor camp in which she spent her teenage years, and how she's found healing in America.

12.23

Forty years ago in France, philosopher Jean Vanier founded an international movement, L'Arche. The L'Arche community in Clinton, Iowa is part of this movement — people of faith living and worshipping alongside developmentally handicapped adults. There are now over 120 L'Arche communities in 18 countries. The community in Clinton is one of the oldest and most rural of the 14 American communities. In this "radio pilgrimage," we take listeners into a radically different faith community that confronts our assumptions about service and diversity, and the worth of individuals.

12.16

Maria Montessori, the great 20th-century educational pioneer, observed that children have an intuition for religious life at an early age that is matched only by their capacity to acquire language. During this holiday season, Speaking of Faith explores the spiritual wisdom and intelligence of children—including their ability to process the difficult realities of life.

12.09

A great public theologian and historian, Martin Marty offers personal and historical perspective on religion in modern life — including the nature of fundamentalism, and the decline of America's mainline Protestant majority as Evangelical Christianity gains in influence.

12.02

Could a Yiddish text from the Middle Ages serve as a guide to living now? Book composer and typographer Scott-Martin Kosofsky revives unlikely sources of "customs" for leading a modern life and marking sacred time. For Hanukkah and all the seasons upon us.

November 2004

11.25

Karen Armstrong speaks about her progression from a disillusioned and damaged young nun into, in her words, a "freelance monotheist." She's a formidable thinker and scholar, but as a theologian she calls herself an amateur — noting that the Latin root of the word "amateur" means a love of one's subject. Seven years in a strict religious order nearly snuffed out her ability to think about faith at all. Here, we hear the story behind Armstrong's developing ideas about God.

11.18

What are the origins of communion, and what is its deepest social relevance? Two leading theologians of communion describe a ritual that is not just personally meaningful for the believer, but also collectively and ethically challenging for Christians.

11.11

One in ten Americans, and even more dramatically, about one in four women, will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. We take an intimate look at the spiritual dimensions of this illness and its aftermath.

 

 

11.04

The word "healing" means "to make whole." But historically, Western medicine has taken a divided view of human health. It has stressed medical treatments of biological ailments. That may be changing. Mehmet Oz, a cardiovascular surgeon, is part of a new generation of doctors who are taking medicine to new technological and spiritual frontiers.

October 2004

10.28

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose life spanned the rise and fall of Hitler's Germany, offers us a model of personal morality and conscience in the most troubled and immoral of times. His resistance of Nazi ideology, while much of the German church succumbed, is a testament to his moral vision and faith. Krista speaks with producer Martin Doblmeier, whose 2003 documentary chronicled Bonhoeffer's life and thought, about the legacy of this unusual theologian.

10.21

In this show, we speak with an African American Christian and an American Muslim and explore the perspectives of two religious communities which defy the broad stereotypes of this election year. We'll seek to gain a deeper understanding of the way in which they are thinking through the mix of religious ideas that have come to the forefront of this campaign. These religious people see complex choices between competing religious ideals, and they are making their decisions in ways that challenge the intuition of pollsters and pundits.

10.14

Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson once said that the program he helped create is, "utter simplicity which encases a complete mystery." Our guests reflect on the Twelve Steps and how they resonate in their personal stories and in Buddhist and Christian teachings.

10.07

In our time, some associate the word "religion" with rigid dogma and the excesses of institutions. The word "spirituality" on the other hand can seem to have little substance or form. The word "faith" can appear as a compromise of sorts, pointing to the content of religious tradition and spiritual experience. The truth is, all of these words are vague in the abstract. They gain meaning in the context of human experience.

In this show, we'll explore the connotations of the word "faith" in four traditions and lives: Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We'll speak with Sharon Salzberg, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Anne Lamott, and Omid Safi.

September 2004

09.30

Many Americans received a violent introduction to Islam in September 2001. And yet, only one quarter of Americans told pollsters then that they considered Islam itself to be more likely than other religions to encourage violence in its believers. In the last two years, that figure has almost doubled. The specter of violence committed in the name of Islam has become as routine as it is shocking, especially at present in Iraq.

In this hour, we take a critical look at what is happening in Islam from inside a practice of that tradition. Krista discusses the present escalation of violence in the name of Islam with a practicing Muslim and leading scholar of Islamic studies, Vincent Cornell. He paints a bleak picture of chaos and drift within Islam which may presage renewal or the continued decay of the religion he loves.

09.23

Many of history's greatest scientists considered their work to be a religious endeavor, a direct search for God. Pioneers like Newton, Copernicus, and Galileo believed that their discoveries told humanity more about God's nature than had been known. Beginning in the early 18th century, science and religion came to be at odds — the gap widening most famously with the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

In recent years, a new dialogue has begun, driven by leading scientists across the world. Host Krista Tippett explores with three scientists, each of whom is working in a field that's rapidly advancing our understanding of what it means to be human. From very different perspectives, they suggest that our most sophisticated 21st-century discoveries may be driving us back to questions of faith.

09.16

The theory of the "God gap"—often broadly suggesting that religious Americans are conservative and will vote Republican while non-religious Americans are liberal and will vote Democratic—has been prominent in press reporting and political maneuvering in the 2004 presidential race. At their recent conventions, both parties seemed to grapple with faith dynamics and respond to the perceived God gap in interesting, unexpected ways.

Krista speaks with Steven Waldman, who covered the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions for religious messages, images, and language. He says that, strictly speaking, the God gap is a myth. We'll look beyond the headlines about the political gulf that reportedly separates religious and secular Americans.

09.09

The sacred story of Abraham traverses the geography of the most bitter political conflict in the modern world — beginning in what is now southern Iraq and ending in the West Bank city of Hebron. Yet Abraham is the common patriarch of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. We explore the story of Abraham in several traditions and why he might be important for people in our time. The hour also includes readings from the Bible and the Qur'an as well as music from the likes of Bob Dylan and Benjamin Britten on the figure of Abraham.

09.02

In an age of Enron and WorldCom, how can we imagine a place for business ethics, much less religious virtue, in the global economy? We speak with a Hindu international business analyst who offers learned, fascinating observations about how the world's myriad religions have shaped global business norms and practices.

 

 

August 2004

08.26

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held public sessions from 1996 to 1998, and concluded its work in 2004. In an attempt to rebuild its society without retribution, the Commission created a new model for grappling with a history of extreme violence. The basic premise of the Commission was that any individual, whatever he or she had done, was eligible for amnesty if they would fully disclose and confess their crimes.

Victims were invited to tell their stories and witness confessions. Through the TRC, many families finally came to know when and how their loved ones died. By the end of the hearings, the Commission took statements from more than 20,000 victims of Apartheid and received applications for amnesty from 7,100 perpetrators.

We explore the religious implications of truth and reconciliation with two people — one black, one white — who did the work of the Commission in charge of it.

08.19

Religious fundamentalism has reshaped our view of world events. In this show, host Krista Tippett explores the appeal of fundamentalism in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, as experienced from the inside. Three accomplished men, who were religious extremists at one time in their lives, provide revealing insight into the spiritual and cultural dimensions of fundamentalism. They also discuss religious impulses which counter the fundamentalist world view and helped them break free.

08.12

If sport is an American religion, is that bad for us? What is the metaphysic of baseball? In this show, we'll speak with a theologian and sports fan who has spent much of his career studying the religious character of rituals in sporting events and the spiritual significance of fans' attention to sports.

08.05

The wildly popular novel turned movie reimagines the New Testament, in part, as a cover-up. What really happened in the fluid early years of Christianity? What is the truth about Mary Magdalene? We separate fact from fiction in the story's plot with two New Testament scholars who say that the story is simpler and much more interesting than conspiracy theories suggest.

July 2004

07.29

During the past decade, there has been an explosion of films and television programs containing religious and spiritual themes. Mel Gibson's The "Passion of the Christ" was only the tip of the iceberg. As new generations of Americans work out their spiritual and religious questions, they are increasingly turning to fantasy. We'll explore the deeper appeal of films like "Harry Potter" and "The Matrix," and we'll ask how fantasy in media reflects a changing spiritual imagination, especially in younger Americans.

07.22

For many modern Americans, the very idea of reciting an unchanging creed, composed centuries ago, is troublesome. But, Jaroslav Pelikan, who died on May 13, 2006, was a scholar who devoted his life to exploring the vitality of ancient theology and creeds. He insisted that even modern pluralists need strong statements of belief.

Here, we revisit Krista's 2003 conversation with him, who, then, in his 80th year, had released a historic collection of Christian faith from biblical times to the present and from across the globe. They discuss the history and nature of creeds, and how a fixed creed can be reconciled with an honest, intellectual faith that changes and evolves.

07.15

We speak with Washington insider Joseph Califano, a devout, lifelong Catholic, who held key positions inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter administrations. Califano provides frank insight into the practical difficulties of applying religious ideals in the political arena.

07.08

Poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht says that as a scholar she always noticed the "shadow history" of doubt out of the corner of her eye. She shows how non-belief, skepticism, and doubt have paralleled and at times shaped the world's great religious and secular belief systems. She suggests that only in modern time has doubt been narrowly equated with a complete rejection of faith, or a broader sense of mystery.

07.01

Krista Tippett speaks with philosopher Jacob Needleman. As new democracies are struggling around the world, it’s easy to forget that U.S. democracy was shaped by trial and error. A conversation about the “inward work” of democracy — the conscience that shaped the American experiment.

June 2004

06.24

Our guest straddles the worlds of cosmology and social activism. During a live audience interview in Philadelphia, he tells us how he unites his convictions about faith, ethics, and cosmology.

06.17

Author Anchee Min has won acclaim for her memoir of growing up in China under Mao Zedong. She's also written several works of fiction in which she explores the human hunger to survive against extreme social brutality. In this conversation, Anchee Min tells us what she learned about the human spirit in the forced labor camp in which she spent her teenage years, and how she's found healing in America.

06.10

Pentecostalism began on the American frontier, and it has become one of the largest expressions of global Christianity. In less than a century, it has grown to hundreds of millions of adherents. Today, Pentecostalism is pan-denominational. There are charismatic Catholics and Lutherans, unaffiliated Pentecostal communities, and established Pentecostal traditions, most prominently the Assemblies of God.

Host Krista Tippett speaks with a theologian about the rise of Pentecostal worship among African-Americans in every denomination and a sociologist on her study of modern day Pentecostals — whom she sees as mystics among us.

06.03

Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson once said that the program he helped create is, "utter simplicity which encases a complete mystery." Our guests reflect on the Twelve Steps and how they resonate in their personal stories and in Buddhist and Christian teachings.

May 2004

05.27

In remembering the legacy of four World War II chaplains -- Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish -- who went down together with their torpedoed ship in 1943, we speak with David Fox, nephew of one of the chaplains. We also hear interviews with surviving veterans and veterans of the German ship that torpedoed them. Finally, a conversation with author, poet, and Vietnam War veteran Bruce Weigl. His most recent book, The Circle of Hahn, chronicles the long personal journey he has made back to Vietnam and to the adoption of a beloved Vietnamese child. The paradox of his life as a writer, he says, is that the war ruined his life and gave him his voice.

05.20

The idea of human cloning both fascinates and repulses many, and challenges us to ask difficult religious questions?

05.13

Our culture's acrimonious debate on the morality of gay marriage has been framed in religious — largely conservative Christian — terms. We go behind the rhetoric to explore the human confusion, hopes, and fears this subject arouses. We'll name hard questions that these religious people on both sides of the issue are asking themselves, and that they would like to ask of others.

05.06

American ideals and rituals of marriage, family, and divorce are infused with biblical messages. But what does the Bible really say, and how has it been taught across the centuries as the institution of marriage has changed dramatically and often? A rabbi and Christian theologian help us explore the nuances of Jewish and Christian teachings and reveal the striking practicality of Jewish tradition across the ages and the surprising ambiguities of the New Testament.

April 2004

04.29

In this close-up look at the human dynamics of the war on terror, our guest speaks about her husband, journalist Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in Pakistan shortly after 9/11. She talks about Buddhism, her ethic of spiritual defiance, and her hopes for the future.

04.22

Zen master and poet Thich Nhat Hanh was forcibly exiled from his native country of Vietnam more than 40 years ago. We visited the Buddhist monk at a Christian conference center in a lakeside setting of rural Wisconsin. Here, Thich Nhat Hanh offers stark, gentle wisdom for living in a world of anger and violence. He discusses the concepts of "engaged Buddhism," "being peace," and "mindfulness."

04.15

A survivor of the Holocaust, in which he lost most of his family, Wiesel is a seminal chronicler of that event and its meaning. Wiesel shares some of his thoughts on modern-day Israel and Germany, his understanding of God, and his practice of prayer after the Holocaust.

04.08

In the coinciding seasons of Passover and Easter, two world religions celebrate their core stories in ritual and worship. Each of these sacred holidays is based on a key biblical story of suffering and deliverance.

The Christian Holy Week commemorates the death of Jesus leading to the Easter celebration of resurrection. In eight days of Passover, Jews remember and reenact the exodus story.

What can ancient narratives of violence and miracle have to say to contemporary audiences? Host Krista Tippett explores faithful ways of living with these stories and giving them modern sense with featured readings from the Bible, words of a 14th century mystic, and poetry from Wendell Berry.

04.01

New Testament writings about Jews may sound inflammatory in modern ears. A New Testament scholar with ties to both Judaism and Christianity helps us put these writings in context and look for meaning in the Passion that Hollywood and popular culture can't convey.

March 2004

03.25

Many of history's greatest scientists considered their work to be a religious endeavor, a direct search for God. Pioneers like Newton, Copernicus, and Galileo believed that their discoveries told humanity more about God's nature than had been known. Beginning in the early 18th century, science and religion came to be at odds — the gap widening most famously with the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

In recent years, a new dialogue has begun, driven by leading scientists across the world. Host Krista Tippett explores with three scientists, each of whom is working in a field that's rapidly advancing our understanding of what it means to be human. From very different perspectives, they suggest that our most sophisticated 21st-century discoveries may be driving us back to questions of faith.

03.18

Karen Armstrong speaks about her progression from a disillusioned and damaged young nun into, in her words, a "freelance monotheist." She's a formidable thinker and scholar, but as a theologian she calls herself an amateur — noting that the Latin root of the word "amateur" means a love of one's subject. Seven years in a strict religious order nearly snuffed out her ability to think about faith at all. Here, we hear the story behind Armstrong's developing ideas about God.

03.11

Religious extremism drives some of the most intractable conflicts around the world. Our guest knows this shadow side of the Christian faith in his personal history. We'll speak about what goes wrong when religion turns violent, and why, he believes, the cure for religious zealotry is not less religion but more religion — or rather stronger and more intelligent practices of faith.

03.04

The religious landscape of Iraq is complex and somewhat enigmatic to the western world. Nearly 97% of Iraq's 25 million people are Muslim, and a majority of Iraqis are Shiite rather than Sunni. What does that mean? And how powerful is the prominent cleric Ayatollah Ali al Sistani who has effectively challenged the American-led coalition. Could he become another Islamic revolutionary like Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini?

As part of Iraq's rebuilding process, the Iraqi governing council agreed on an interim constitution that cites Islam as a source — but not the primary source — of future legislation. Approval of the interim constitution was delayed first by violence, and then by a group of Shiite council members who raised objections to elements within it. Host Krista Tippett speaks at length with Iraqi-American professor and advisor, Ahmed al-Rahim, for insight into the unfolding new relationship between mosque and state in Iraq.

February 2004

02.26

In the years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, scrutiny of the religion of Islam has become part and parcel of our public life. In forums of all kinds, often guided by non-Muslim pundits, we ask, what does terrorism have to do with the teachings of the Qur'an? Can Islam coexist with democracy? Is Islam capable of a reformation, or has it fallen into hopeless decay?

We pose these questions to a spectrum of American Muslims who describe themselves as devout and moderate. Our guests take us inside the way Muslims discuss such questions among themselves, and they suggest that when we consider "the Muslim world" we must look first at Islam in this country. In this open society, they say, Islam has found a home like no other.

02.19

The American public supports the principle of capital punishment, but there is a growing consensus among Jewish and Christian thinkers — across traditional liberal/conservative lines — that it should be abolished in this country or suspended while the system for imposing it is made more just. Reflections on justice, forgiveness, and the nature of God shed new light on America's death penalty debate.

02.12

Host Krista Tippett explores the practical implications of spirituality at work with Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley and syndicated columnist Tim McGuire.

In May 2002, Rowley wrote a now-famous 13-page letter to Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI. In it, Rowley raised serious and detailed concerns about how the FBI had handled leads prior to the September 11th attacks.

02.05

Born in slavery, the Negro spiritual conveys a generous understanding of the nature of God and of human life. A celebration in word and song — through its hidden meanings, as well as its beauty, lament, and hope.

January 2004

01.29

The wildly popular novel turned movie reimagines the New Testament, in part, as a cover-up. What really happened in the fluid early years of Christianity? What is the truth about Mary Magdalene? We separate fact from fiction in the story's plot with two New Testament scholars who say that the story is simpler and much more interesting than conspiracy theories suggest.

01.22

Religious pronouncements seem to have become mandatory for the Democratic candidates in this election. Yet it's been easy to deride the resulting sound bites that are widely repeated—such as Howard Dean's proclamation of his favorite book of the New Testament: the Old Testament book of Job. Host Krista Tippett takes a larger view of what this election has to say about the role of religion in American life. Is it changing, and if so, what is substantive and important in that change?

01.15

At the center of our history of church and state is a troublesome irony. What began as an attempt to guarantee religious tolerance in the new world has at various times been commandeered by the most chauvinistic movements America has known. In spite of this, religious liberty has survived as an American ideal—one which we continue to test.

We live in a world of increasing religious pluralism—diversity beyond the imagining of our nation's founders—which suggests fresh nuance to the meaning of religious liberty. This much is clear: our modern conversation has few connections to the social, political, and religious impulses that led to the First Amendment.

Host Krista Tippett and her guests revisit the history and meaning of separation in thought-provoking and, at times, unsettling ways. Charles Haynes talks about his work in the American public school system—the arena in which our modern debates often center. Philip Hamburger describes his research into the surprising, and largely forgotten, origins of separation of church and state. And, Cheryl Crazy Bull speaks about the loss and reemergence of religious expression in tribal public life.

01.08

One in ten Americans, and even more dramatically, about one in four women, will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. We take an intimate look at the spiritual dimensions of this illness and its aftermath.

 

 

01.01

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held public sessions from 1996 to 1998, and concluded its work in 2004. In an attempt to rebuild its society without retribution, the Commission created a new model for grappling with a history of extreme violence. The basic premise of the Commission was that any individual, whatever he or she had done, was eligible for amnesty if they would fully disclose and confess their crimes.

Victims were invited to tell their stories and witness confessions. Through the TRC, many families finally came to know when and how their loved ones died. By the end of the hearings, the Commission took statements from more than 20,000 victims of Apartheid and received applications for amnesty from 7,100 perpetrators.

We explore the religious implications of truth and reconciliation with two people — one black, one white — who did the work of the Commission in charge of it.