Show Archive

December 2010

12.30

At the turn of the year, we look at how American culture's encounter with religious ideas and people has evolved in the past decade — and this radio project with it.

12.23

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.

12.16

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.

12.09

Dan Barber is a celebrated young chef — but his passionate ethics and intellect have made him much more. He's out to restore food to its rightful place vis-à-vis our bodies, our ecologies and our economies. And he would do this by resurrecting our natural insistence on flavor.

12.02

As some Lakota make an annual pilgrimage on horseback to Wounded Knee in memory of Sitting Bull's death, we'll pull out some of the lesser known threads of the legacy of this complex leader and American icon. And we'll explore why his spiritual character has animated his own people in the last three decades more openly than at any time since his death in 1890.

November 2010

11.25

The late Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue, is beloved for his book Anam Ċara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2008, he articulated a Celtic imagination about how the material and the spiritual, the visible and the invisible worlds intertwine in human experience.

11.18

Esoteric teachings on reincarnation and consciousness; simple teachings on compassion and ethics. Geshe Thupten Jinpa is a man who finishes the Dalai Lama’s English sentences. Meet this philosopher and former monk, now a husband and father of two daughters, and hear what happens when the ancient tradition embodied in the Dalai Lama meets science and life.

11.11

Krista Tippett sits down with Lord Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. One of the world's great thinkers on the promise and perils of religion, they discuss how Jewish and other religious ideas can inform modern challenges. He says that the faithful can and must cultivate their own deepest truths — while finding God in the other.

11.04

One of the world's leading experts on torture, Iranian-American political scientist Darius Rejali discusses, in particular, how democracies change torture and are changed by it. In the wake of Wikileaks revelations about torture in U.S.-occupied Iraq, we explore how his knowledge might deepen our public discourse about such practices -- and inform our collective reckoning with consequences yet to unfold.

October 2010

10.28

The XIV Dalai Lama seems to many to embody happiness — happiness against the odds, a virtue that is acquired and practiced. Before a live audience in Atlanta, Georgia, Krista had a rare opportunity to mull over the meaning of happiness in contemporary life with him and three global spiritual leaders: a Muslim scholar, a chief rabbi, and a presiding bishop. For this new year, an invigorating and unpredictable discussion exploring the themes of suffering, beauty, and the nature of the body.

10.21

What Adele Diamond is learning about the brain challenges basic assumptions in modern education. Her work is scientifically illustrating the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization and reflection. What nourishes the human spirit, the whole person, it turns out, also hones our minds.

10.14

Richard Mouw challenges his fellow conservative Christians to civility in public discourse. He offers historical as well as spiritual perspective on American Evangelicals' navigation of disagreement, fear, and truth.

10.07

Xavier Le Pichon, one of the world's leading geophysicists, helped create the field of plate tectonics. A devout Catholic and spiritual thinker, he raised his family in intentional communities centered around people with mental disabilities. He shares his rare perspective on the meaning of humanity — a perspective equally informed by his scientific and personal encounters with fragility as a fundament of vital, evolving systems. Le Pichon has come to think of caring attention to weakness as an essential quality that allowed humanity to evolve.

September 2010

09.30

Using stem cells, Doris Taylor brought the heart of a dead animal back to life and might one day revolutionize human organ transplantation. She takes us beyond lightning rod issues and into an unfolding frontier where science is learning how stem cells work reparatively in every body at every age.

09.23

Can journalism be a humanitarian art? New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has learned that reportage can deaden rather than awaken the consciousness, much less the hearts, of his readers. He shares his wide ethical lens he's gained on human life in our time — both personal and global.

09.16

Joanna Macy is a philosopher of ecology, a Buddhist scholar, and an exquisite translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that poetry as a lens on her wisdom on spiritual life and its relevance for the political and ecological dramas of our time.

09.09

At the turn of the year, we look at how American culture's encounter with religious ideas and people has evolved in the past decade — and this radio project with it.

09.02

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 2010

08.26

An expansive reflection on work, education, and civic imagination with an esteemed researcher and teacher at UCLA and a poetic writer. We explore his perspective, through life and scholarship, on hard subjects that drive to the heart of who we are -- literacy, schooling, social class, and the deepest meaning of vocation.

08.19

The devastation of the Haiti earthquakes and the lack of infrastructure for responding to the disaster have deepened an ongoing debate over foreign aid, international development, and helping the poorest of the world's poor. Jacqueline Novogratz, whose Acumen Fund is reinventing that landscape with what it calls "patient capitalism," is charting a third way between investment for profit and aid for free.

08.12

14 Muslims, in their own words, speak about the delights and gravity of Islam's holiest month. Through vivid memories and light-hearted musings, they reveal the richness of Ramadan — as a period of intimacy, and of parties; of getting up when the world is quiet for breakfast and prayers with one's family; of breaking the fast every day after nightfall in celebration and prayers with friends and strangers.

08.05

A conversation about climate change and moral imagination with a leading environmentalist and writer who has been ahead of the curve on this issue since he wrote The End of Nature in 1989. We explore his evolving perspective on human responsibility in a changing natural world.

July 2010

07.29

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.

07.22

A profound stutter as a child left Alan Rabinowitz virtually unable to communicate and to prefer animals to people. Now a conservationist of tigers and jaguars, an explorer of the world's last wild places, he has extraordinary insight into both animals and the human condition.

07.15

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.

07.08

What happens when people transcend violence while living in it? John Paul Lederach has spent three decades mediating peace and change in 25 countries — from Nepal to Colombia and Sierra Leone.. He shifts the language and lens of the very notion of conflict resolution. He says, for example, that enduring progress takes root not with large numbers of people, but with relationships between unlikely people.

07.01

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.

June 2010

06.24

What happens when you bring together science and poetry on something like color or light? Arthur Zajonc is a physicist and contemplative. And he says we can all investigate life as vigorously from the inside as from the outside.

06.17

More and more people in our time are disconnected from religious institutions, at least for part of their lives. Others are religious and find themselves creating a family with a spouse from another tradition or no tradition at all. And the experience of parenting tends to raise spiritual questions anew. We sense that there is a spiritual aspect to our children's natures and wonder how to support and nurture that. The spiritual life, our guest says, begins not in abstractions, but in concrete everyday experiences. And children need our questions as much as our answers.

06.10

How we see the world is how we value it, says Ellen Davis. And poetry is a way to rediscover the lost art of being creatures. An hour of learning and slowing down, with the "Mad Farmer" poems of Wendell Berry and a new way to take in the "poetry" of Genesis.

06.03

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.

May 2010

05.27

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.

05.20

Astrophysicist Mario Livio works with science the Hubble Space Telescope makes possible. He is not a religious person. But he's fascinated with the enduring mystery of the very language of science, mathematics.

05.13

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.

05.06

Saint John's University and Abbey in rural Minnesota houses a monastic library that rescues writings from across the centuries and across the world. There are worlds in this place on palm leaf and papyrus, in microfilm and pixels. And the relevance of the past to the present is itself revealed in a new light.

April 2010

04.29

"There's no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love."

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on how his understanding of God and humanity has unfolded through the history he's lived and shaped.

04.22

Alzheimer's disease has been described as "the great unlearning," a "disease of memory," a "demise of consciousness." But what does it reveal about the nature of human identity? What remains when memory unravels? And how might such insights help Alzheimer's sufferers themselves?

04.15

With an Argentinean scientist, we explore the human landscape of forensic sciences and its emergence as a tool for human rights. Doretti has unearthed bones and stories of the dead and "the disappeared" in more than 30 countries, including victims of Argentina's Dirty War, over two decades. She shares her perspective on reparation, the need to bury our dead, and the many facets of justice.

04.08

A filmmaker and scholar gives us a parallel story to the ubiquitous news of China's economy and politics. Mayfair Yang discusses the ancient and reemerging traditions of reverence and ritual — revealing background to its approach to Tibet. And, she tells us how China gleaned some of its recent dismissive attitudes towards religion from the West.

04.01

Four Jesuits in history have had asteroids named after them. Our guests are the two living astronomers with that distinction. Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father George Coyne study the composition of meteorites and the life and death of stars. They share their observations of life, faith, friendship, and the universe from their seats in the Vatican Observatory.

March 2010

03.25

Michael McCullough describes science that helps us comprehend how revenge came to have a purpose in human life. At the same time, he stresses, science is also revealing that human beings are more instinctively equipped for forgiveness than we've perhaps given ourselves credit for. Knowing this suggests ways to calm the revenge instinct in ourselves and others and embolden the forgiveness intuition.

03.18

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.

03.11

An astrophysicist who studies the shape of the universe, Janna Levin has also explored her science by writing a novel about two pivotal 20th-century mathematicians, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing. Both men pushed at boundaries where mathematics presses on grand questions of meaning and purpose. Such questions, she says, help create the technologies that are now changing our sense of what it means to be human.

03.04

Robert Wright charts an intellectual path beyond the faith versus reason debate. He takes a relentlessly logical look at the history of religion, exposing its contradictions. Yet Wright also traces something "revelatory" moving through human history. In this public conversation -- recorded before a live audience -- we explore the story he tells, the import he sees in it for our culture, and where it has personally taken him.

February 2010

02.25

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.

02.18

Robi Damelin lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper. Ali Abu Awwad lost his older brother Yousef to an Israeli soldier. But, instead of clinging to traditional ideologies and turning their pain into more violence, they've decided to understand the other side — Israeli and Palestinian — by sharing their pain and their humanity. They tell of a gathering network of survivors who share their grief, their stories of loved ones, and their ideas for lasting peace. They don't want to be right; they want to be honest.

02.11

A poet and self-described literary activist, E. Ethelbert Miller attended Howard University in 1968 — the age in which Black Power was finding its voice. He has remained there ever since, observing and making sense of the trajectory of black history and culture. He pushes at the parameters within which mainstream America routinely sees what he calls "blackness."

02.04

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.

January 2010

01.28

The devastation of the Haiti earthquakes and the lack of infrastructure for responding to the disaster have deepened an ongoing debate over foreign aid, international development, and helping the poorest of the world's poor. Jacqueline Novogratz, whose Acumen Fund is reinventing that landscape with what it calls "patient capitalism," is charting a third way between investment for profit and aid for free.

01.21

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.

01.14

British activist Ed Husain was seduced, at the age of 16, by revolutionary Islamist ideals that flourished at the heart of educated British culture. Yet he later shrank back from radicalism after coming close to a murder and watching people he loved become suicide bombers. He dug deeper into Islamic spirituality, and now offers a fresh and daring perspective on the way forward.

01.07

An expansive reflection on work, education, and civic imagination with an esteemed researcher and teacher at UCLA and a poetic writer. We explore his perspective, through life and scholarship, on hard subjects that drive to the heart of who we are -- literacy, schooling, social class, and the deepest meaning of vocation.