Show Archive

December 2007

12.27

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.

12.20

Considered by some to be a living saint, Jean Vanier created L'Arche, a model of community for people with mental disabilities that celebrates power in smallness and light in the darkness of human existence. The French Canadian philosopher and Catholic social innovator speaks about his understanding of humanity and God that has been shaped by Aristotle, Mother Teresa, and people who would once have been locked away from society.

12.13

The 13th-century Muslim mystic and poet Rumi has long shaped Muslims around the world and has now become popular in the West. Rumi created a new language of love within the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism. We hear his poetry as we delve into his world and listen for its echoes in our own.

12.06

The second program in our series on guiding figures in what some are calling the "post Religious Right era." This program's guests are conservative Evangelicals who are increasingly being watched by a new generation of Christian and secular leaders. They want to move beyond the partisan and cultural divides of recent years to fight poverty, AIDS, and homelessness.

November 2007

11.29

The first in a two-part series on influential leaders who are reshaping Evangelical Christianity from within progressive and conservative circles. Jim Wallis founded "Sojourners" and now advises presidential candidates and world leaders in what he calls the "post-Religious Right" era. He is determined to put poverty at the top of America's "moral values" agenda.

11.22

U.S. culture's clash between religion and science is almost exclusively driven by Christian instincts and arguments. Hindu physicist V.V. Raman offers another view of religion, the universe, and the complementarity of the questions of science and faith.

11.15

Auburn's Rural Studio in western Alabama draws architectural students into the design and construction of homes and public spaces in some of the poorest counties. They're creating beautiful and economical structures that are not only unique but nurture sustainability of the natural world as of human dignity.

11.08

The sales are starting, the stores are open late, and many of us are gearing up to spend more money than we actually have in a holiday season with deep roots in religion. We explore the turmoil many of us experience with money in our day-to-day lives — and how we might work towards a moral and practical balance for ourselves and the next generation.

11.01

A look inside the spiritual culture of Burma, exploring the meaning of monks taking to the streets there in September, the way in which religion and military rule are intertwined, and how Buddhism remains a force in and beyond the current crisis.

October 2007

10.25

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.

10.18

In 1965, a young Harvard professor became the best-selling voice of secularism in America with his book The Secular City. He sees the old thinking in the "new atheism" of figures like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The either/or debates between religion and atheism, he says, obscure the truly interesting interplay between faith and other forms of knowledge that is unfolding today.

10.11

An unusual take on the mind-body connection with author and yoga teacher Matthew Sanford. He's been a paraplegic since the age of 13. He shares his wisdom for us all on knowing the strength and grace of our bodies even in the face of illness, aging, and death.

10.04

In over 50 years as a Benedictine nun, Sister Joan Chittister has emerged as a powerful and uncomfortable voice in Roman Catholicism and in global politics. If women were ordained in the Catholic Church in our lifetime, some say, Joan Chittister would be the first female bishop.

September 2007

09.27

One child in every 110 in the U.S. is now diagnosed to be somewhere on the spectrum of autism. We step back from public controversies over causes and cures and explore the mystery and meaning of autism in one family's life, and in history and society. Our guests say that life with their child with autism has deepened their understanding of human nature — of disability, and of creativity, intelligence, and accomplishment.

09.20

We'll take a fresh and thought-provoking look at Darwin's life and ideas. He did not argue against God but against a simple understanding of the world — its beauty, its brutality, and its unfolding creation.

09.13

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.

09.06

We delve into the world and meaning of the Jewish High Holy Days — ten days that span the new year of Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur's rituals of atonement. A young rabbi in L.A. is one voice in a Jewish spiritual renaissance that is taking many forms across the U.S. The vast majority of her congregation are people in their 20s and 30s, who, she says, are making life-giving connections between ritual, personal transformation, and relevance in the world.

August 2007

08.30

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.

08.23

Who knew that we learn empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving through play — something the dictionary defines as "pleasurable and apparently purposeless activity." Dr. Stuart Brown suggests that the rough-and-tumble play of children actually prevents violent behavior, and that play can grow human talents and character across a lifetime. Play, as he studies it, is an indispensable part of being human.

08.16

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.

08.09

A look back at the closest thing the early 20th century may have had to Oprah Winfrey. The flamboyant Pentecostal preacher Aimee Semple McPherson was a multimedia sensation and a powerful female religious leader long before most of Christianity considered such a thing. The contradictions and passions of her life are a window into the world of global Pentecostalism that touches as many as half a billion lives today.

08.02

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.

July 2007

07.26

Vásquez believes that in the global age, religious dynamics may have a boomerang effect across the Americas with dramatic consequences. We explore how religion will shape the increasing Hispanic population and how religion itself might be changed.

07.19

Kingsolver describes an adventure her family undertook to spend one year eating primarily what they could grow or raise themselves. As a citizen and mother more than an expert, she turned her life towards questions many of us are asking. Food, she says, is a "rare moral arena" in which the ethical choice is often the pleasurable choice.

07.12

The American experience of stress has spawned a multi-billion dollar self-help industry. Wary of this, Esther Sternberg says that, until recently, modern science did not have the tools or the inclination to take emotional stress seriously. She shares fascinating new scientific insight into the molecular level of the mind-body connection.

 

 

07.05

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.

June 2007

06.28

The word "Vodou" evokes images of sorcery and sticking pins into dolls. In fact, it's a living tradition wherever Haitians are found based on ancestral religions in Africa. We walk through this mysterious tradition — one with dramatic rituals of trances and dreaming and of belief in spirits, who speak through human beings, with both good and evil potential.

06.21

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.

06.14

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.

06.07

Before a live audience at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, Krista reads from her book, "Speaking of Faith." She traces the intersection of human experience and religious ideas in her own life, just as she asks her guests to do each week. Krista reflects on her adventure of conversation across the world's traditions — and on the whole story of religion in human life, beyond the headlines of violence.

May 2007

05.31

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?

05.24

With Iraq veteran and chaplain Major John Morris, we explore how war challenges the human spirit and the core tenets of a life of faith. The War on Terror, he says, presents its own spiritual challenges. He is working to support the reintegration of National Guard and Reserve personnel, who are being mobilized for active duty at record levels in Afghanistan and Iraq.

05.17

Shane Claiborne is a leading spirit in a gathering movement of young people known as the New Monastics. Emerging from the edges of Evangelical Christianity, they are patterning their lives in response to the needs of the poor -- and the detachment they see in our culture's vision of adulthood.

05.10

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.

05.03

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.

April 2007

04.26

Jimmy Carter -- former president and Nobel Laureate, author and global humanitarian -- speaks of his born-again faith with a directness that is striking even in today's political culture. He reflects on being commander in chief while following, as he says, "the Prince of Peace"; on upholding the law while privately opposing abortion; and on his marriage of 60 years as a metaphor for the challenge of human relationship both personal and global.

04.19

Ingrid Mattson, the first woman and first convert to lead the Islamic Society of North America, describes her experience of Islamic spirituality, which she discovered in her twenties after a Catholic upbringing. We probe her unusual perspective on a tumultuous age for Islam in the West and around the world.

04.12

Last month, conservative Christian leaders demanded that Richard Cizik be silenced or removed from his post. They charged that his concerns about climate change and torture have shifted attention away from moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion. But for Cizik, poverty, war, and the environment are moral issues too. We revisit Krista's 2006 conversation with Cizik that took many listeners by surprise.

04.05

An understanding of Easter from inside the Armenian Orthodox tradition that is at once mystical and literally down to earth. Vigen Guroian is a theologian who experiences Easter as a call to our senses. He is passionate about the meaning of grand ideas like incarnation, death, and eternity as revealed in life and in his garden.

March 2007

03.29

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.

03.22

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.

03.15

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.

03.08

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.

03.01

The 13th-century Muslim mystic and poet Rumi has long shaped Muslims around the world and has now become popular in the West. Rumi created a new language of love within the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism. We hear his poetry as we delve into his world and listen for its echoes in our own.

February 2007

02.22

Isabel Mukonyora has followed and studied a religious movement of her Shona people, the Masowe Apostles, that embraces Christian tradition while addressing the drama of African life and history. The founder of this movement, Johane Masowe, emphasized an ancient Jewish and Christian pull to the wilderness. Through her stories we explore modern African spirituality, diaspora, and finding meaning, as Mukonyora says, "in the margins."

02.15

An environmentalist who pursued the ecological impulse of Paganism, from its ancient roots to its modern revival in Europe and North America, discusses his observations about the spirit of Paganism and its influence on everyday Western culture — and even on old-time religion.

02.08

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.

02.01

Katy Payne is an acoustic biologist with a Quaker sensibility. From the wild coast of Argentina to the rainforests of Africa, she discovered that humpback whales compose ever-changing songs and that elephants communicate across long distances by infrasound. Here, she reflects on life in this world through her experiences with two of the most exotic creatures.

January 2007

01.25

The greatest threat in the post-Cold War world, says Douglas Johnston, is the prospective marriage of religious extremism with weapons of mass destruction. Yet the U.S. spends most of its time, resources, and weapons fighting the symptoms of this threat, not the cause. The diplomacy of the future, he is showing, must engage religion as part of the strategic solution to global conflicts.

01.18

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.

01.11

Environmentalism and climate change are hot topics; yet they're still often imagined as the territory of scientists, expert activists, and those who can afford to be environmentally conscious. We discover two people who are transforming the ecology of their immediate worlds in Dunn, Wisconsin and New York's South Bronx.

01.04

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."

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