Show Archive

December 2005

12.29

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.

12.22

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.

12.15

Part one of this series takes Einstein's science as a starting point for exploring the great physicist's perspective on ideas such as mystery, eternity, and the mind of God.

12.08

Part two of this series delves into Einstein's Jewish identity, his passionate engagement around issues of war and race, and modern extensions of his ethical and scientific perspectives.

12.01

The Terri Schiavo case earlier this year raised ethical and medical issues that remain with us today. But missing in that debate was a real attention to the quality and the meaning of death. Joan Halifax tells us what she's learned and how she lives differently after three decades accompanying others to the final boundary of human life.

November 2005

11.24

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.

11.17

We remember Studs Terkel, who recently died at the age of 96. The legendary interviewer chronicled decades of ordinary life and tumultuous change in U.S. culture. We visited him in his Chicago home in 2004 and drew out his wisdom and warmth on large existential themes of life and death. A lifelong agnostic, Studs Terkel shared his thoughts on religion as he'd observed it in his conversation partners, in culture, and in his own encounters with loss and mortality.

11.10

A 30-year-old, Indian-American Muslim and former Rhodes Scholar is setting out to change the way young people relate to their own religious traditions and those of others. Al-Quaeda is the most effective youth program in the world, he says, and we neglect this work at our peril.

11.03

Two people with unique perspectives both discovered ecumenism — the movement to reconcile Christian churches — during the Civil Rights era. They'll describe what they've learned about grappling with vexing clashes of difference, and why reconciliation among different Christians still matters in a multi-religious, post-Katrina world.

October 2005

10.27

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.

10.20

Stereotypes tell us this: Evangelical Christians are politically conservative, closed-minded, morally judgmental, and anti-science. We speak with two creative members of a new generation of Evangelical thinkers and teachers, who defy stereotypes and reveal an evolving character for this vast movement that describes 40 percent of Americans.

10.13

Is there such a thing as the Muslim world? Is the "veil" a sign of submission or courage? Is our Western concern about women in Islam really a concern for the well-being of women? Our guest, Egyptian-American Leila Ahmed, challenges current thought on these and other questions.

10.06

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.

 

 

September 2005

09.29

Dr. Sherwin Nuland died this week at the age of 83. He became well-known for his first book, How We Die, which won the National Book Award. For him, pondering death was a way of wondering at life — and the infinite variety of processes that maintain human life moment to moment. He reflects on the meaning of life by way of scrupulous and elegant detail about human physiology.

09.22

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.

09.15

Hurricane Katrina brought urban poverty in America into all of our living rooms. In this program, David Hilfiker tells the story of how poverty and racial isolation came to be in cities across America. He lives creatively and realistically with questions many of us began to ask in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

09.08

Politics driven by a religious agenda, Danforth says, is true neither to his understanding of Christian faith nor to the traditional values of the Republican party. This veteran politician speaks about the values that have helped him navigate the line between private faith and public life and his current concerns about religion in his own party and in the world.

09.01

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.

August 2005

08.25

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.

08.18

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.

08.11

Rachel Naomi Remen's lifelong struggle with chronic illness has shaped her philosophy and practice of medicine. She speaks about the art of listening to patients and other physicians, the difference between curing and healing, and how our losses help us to live.

08.04

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.

July 2005

07.28

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.

07.21

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.

07.14

Joel Hanson has schizophrenia and believes he is God. His parents reflect on living with their son and how they have learned to see mental illness, normalcy, and religion differently. Is there room in our culture to consider a schizophrenic personality as another form of human difference and diversity?

07.07

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.

June 2005

06.30

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.

06.23

The writers Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, social activist Dorothy Day, and the Trappist monk Thomas Merton — all four shared a complex Catholic faith. Paul Elie takes us on a kind of literary pilgrimage through a Catholic imagination that still resonates in our time.

06.16

The Terri Schiavo case earlier this year raised ethical and medical issues that remain with us today. But missing in that debate was a real attention to the quality and the meaning of death. Joan Halifax tells us what she's learned and how she lives differently after three decades accompanying others to the final boundary of human life.

06.09

In this personal exchange between a Jewish rabbi and Islamic scholar, host Krista Tippett explores the integrity of religious faith and openness to the faiths of others. In a world in which religious experience is implicated in violence, two thinkers discuss how it is possible to love their own traditions and honor those of others.


This program was recorded live at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in June 2003.

06.02

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.

May 2005

05.26

There are an estimated 4,000 Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military, though some counts place that number much higher. We'll speak with the first Muslim imam in the US Army Chaplaincy -- Major Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad -- about Iraq, faith, and military service.

05.19

Experts once predicted that as the world grew more modern, religion would decline. Precisely the opposite has proven true; religious movements are surging and driving "alternative globalizations" across the world. Two leading thinkers offer a penetrating view of how and why religion of all kinds is shaping the global economy and political order.

05.12

Americans are religious and non-religious, devout and irreverent. But in astonishing numbers, across that spectrum, most of us say that we pray. We explore the subject of prayer, how it sounds, and what it means in three different traditions and lives.

 

 

05.05

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.

April 2005

04.28

A few years ago, journalist Pankaj Mishra pursued the social relevance of the Buddha's thought across India and Europe, Afghanistan and America. He emerged with a startling critique of Western political economy that is even more resonant today as he pursued the social relevance of the Buddha's core questions: Do desiring and acquiring make us happy? Does large-scale political change really address human suffering?

04.21

The biblical Exodus story has inspired believers and non-believers, Jews and Christians — and more than a few Hollywood movies. But this is no simple story of heroes and villains; it is a complex picture of the possibilities and ironies of human passion and human freedom. If you're not familiar with Exodus, you're in for a deeply sensual experience; and, even if you're well-versed in the text, you just might be surprised.

04.14

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.

04.07

We explore the human and religious implications of natural disasters through the eyes of two scientists steeped in the workings of the natural world. We approach the morality of nature from a non-theological angle, tracing how natural disasters have sometimes fueled religious agendas and movements and how strictly scientific perspectives can both challenge and illuminate religious questions.

04.02

John Paul II's papacy was dramatic and historic on many fronts. Speaking of Faith explores some of the critical religious issues of his 26 years as pontiff and discusses the great and contradictory impact he made on the Catholic Church in America and abroad. Host Krista Tippett speaks with NPR's senior European correspondent Sylvia Poggioli, priest and author Donald Cozzens, and Yale theologian Margaret Farley.

March 2005

03.24

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.

03.17

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."

03.10

Science and religion are often pitted against one another; but how do they complement, rather than contradict, one another? We learn how one man applies the deepest insights of modern physics to think about how the world fundamentally works, and how the universe might make space for prayer.

03.03

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

February 2005

02.24

We remember Studs Terkel, who recently died at the age of 96. The legendary interviewer chronicled decades of ordinary life and tumultuous change in U.S. culture. We visited him in his Chicago home in 2004 and drew out his wisdom and warmth on large existential themes of life and death. A lifelong agnostic, Studs Terkel shared his thoughts on religion as he'd observed it in his conversation partners, in culture, and in his own encounters with loss and mortality.

02.17

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.

02.10

We explore the ideas and present-day relevance of 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, an influential, boundary-crossing voice in American public life. Niebuhr created the term "Christian realism:" a middle path between religious idealism and arrogance. Exploring his wide appeal, three distinctive voices describe Niebuhr's legacy and ask what insights he brings to the political and religious dynamics of the early 21st century.

02.03

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.

January 2005

01.27

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.

 

 

01.20

We deconstruct the phrase "moral values," which has confused and divided Americans since November's election. As the second term of George W. Bush commences, political analyst Steven Waldman helps explore what these words do and do not convey to liberals and conservatives, and why they still matter. What is at stake when both sides fail to understand the moral convictions of the other?

01.13

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.

01.06

We experience the religious thought and the spiritual vitality of two Muslims—male and female—both American and both with roots in ancient Islamic cultural, intellectual, and spiritual traditions. Their stories and ideas, music, and readings, evoke a sense of the richness of global Islamic spirituality and of some of its hidden nuances and beauty. They reveal how sound, music, and especially poetry offer a window onto the subtleties and humanity of Islamic religious experience.

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