Episodes Archive

Our Latest Show September 11, 2014

The first in a four-part series, "The American Consciousness."

Imani Perry is a scholar of law, culture, race — and hip hop. She acknowledges wise voices who say that we will never get to the promised land of racial equality. She writes, “That may very well be true, but it also true that extraordinary things have happened and keep happening in our history. The question is, how do we prepare for and precipitate them?” We took her up on this emboldening question at the Chautauqua Institution, on the cusp of yet a new collective reckoning with the racial fabric of American life.

Episode Archive

December 2013

December 26, 2013

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news and horrific pictures in the world. This is a form of empathy, Joan Halifax says, that works against us. The Zen abbot and medical anthropologist has bracing, nourishing thoughts on finding buoyancy rather than burnout in how we work, live, and care.

December 19, 2013

The people we later recognize as prophets, says Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, are also poets. They reframe what is at stake in chaotic times. Hear a very special voice in conversation to address our changing lives and the deepest meaning of hope this season.

December 12, 2013

Talk show pioneer Phil Donahue opens up on his remarkable perspective on the last half century of America and who we are now. He shares his personal transformations on race, gender roles, and parenting in the dramatic era he captured on television.

December 05, 2013

Courage is borne out of vulnerability, not strength. This finding of Brené Brown’s research on shame and "wholeheartedness" shook the perfectionist ground beneath her own feet. And now it’s inspiring millions to reconsider the way they live, parent, and navigate relations with members of the opposite gender.

November 2013

November 28, 2013

What might words like repentance or forgiveness mean, culturally, in this moment? These are questions of the emerging church, a loosely-defined movement that crosses generations, theologies and social ideologies in the hope of reimagining Christianity. With Phyllis Tickle and Vincent Harding, an honest and sometimes politically incorrect conversation on coming to terms with racial identity in the church and in the world.

November 21, 2013

Parallel realities and the deep structure of space-time sound like science fiction. These are matters of real scientific inquiry. Lord Martin Rees is an astrophysicist and self-professed atheist who paints a fascinating picture of how we might be changed by what we do not yet know.

November 14, 2013

Eve Ensler has helped women all over the world tell the stories of their lives through the stories of their bodies. Her play, The Vagina Monologues, has become a global force in the face of violence against women and girls. But she herself also had a violent childhood. And it turns out that she herself was like so many of us western women, obsessed by our bodies and yet not inhabiting them — without even knowing we're not inhabiting them. Until she got cancer.

November 07, 2013

What if we understand death as a developmental stage — like adolescence or mid-life? Dr. Ira Byock is a leading figure in palliative care and hospice in the United States. He says we lose sight of "the remarkable value" of the time of life we call dying if we forget that it's always a personal and human event, and not just a medical one. From his place on this medical frontier, he shares how we can understand dying as a time of learning, repair, and completion of our lives.

October 2013

October 31, 2013

Two legendary teachers shine a Buddhist light on a classic Christian teaching: love of enemies. Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg are working together on how we relate to that which makes us feel embattled from without, and from within.

October 24, 2013

The light and smells in places like hospitals can often depress us. And, our favorite room at home keeps us sane. But why? Immunologist Esther Sternberg explains the scientific research revealing how physical spaces create stress and make us sick — and how good design can trigger our "brain’s internal pharmacies" and help heal us.

October 17, 2013

David Sloan Wilson believes that evolution is not just a description of how we got here. He says it can also be a tool kit for improving how we live together. He’s taken what he’s learned in studying evolution in animals and is now applying it to the behavior of groups in his hometown of Binghamton, New York. His goal is to help people behave pro-socially — at their best, and for the good of the whole.

October 10, 2013

Alain de Botton is a philosopher who likes the best of religion, but doesn’t believe in God. So he’s created “The School of Life,” a secular community in London. He explains why wisdom and ritual shouldn’t be reserved just for believers.

October 03, 2013

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers — the Indigo Girls — on finding God in church and in smoky bars. And on music as a continuum of human existence.

September 2013

September 26, 2013

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."

September 19, 2013

Mathematical equations are like sonnets says Keith Devlin. What most of us learn in school, he says, doesn’t begin to convey what mathematics is. And technology may free more of us to discover the wonder of mathematical thinking — as a reflection of the inner world of our minds.

September 12, 2013

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.

September 05, 2013

She’s the tattooed, Lutheran pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, a church where a chocolate fountain, a blessing of the bicycles, and serious liturgy come together. She's a face of the Emerging Church — redefining what church is, with deep reverence for tradition.

August 2013

August 29, 2013

A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all.

August 22, 2013

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.

August 15, 2013

How can unimaginable social change happen in a world of strangers? Kwame Anthony Appiah is a philosopher who studies ethics and his parents' marriage helped inspire the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. In a tense moment in American life, he has refreshing advice on simply living with difference.

August 08, 2013

Sylvia Earle has done something no one else has — walked solo on the bottom of the sea, under a quarter mile of water. She tells what she saw — and what she has learned — about the giant, living system that is the ocean. And, she explains why seeing a shark is a sign for hope.

August 01, 2013

The push and pull between religion and science has shaped advances in geology from the beginning. David Montgomery set out to debunk Noah’s Flood; instead he discovered this biblical story was the plate tectonics of its day. He tells us how the evolution of landscapes and geological processes shape ecology and humanity. And, how we should read rocks for the stories they tell about who we are and where we came from.

July 2013

July 25, 2013

No issue is more intractable than abortion. Or is it? Most Americans fall somewhere between the absolute poles of “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” A Christian ethicist who advocates a "consistent ethic of life" and an abortion-rights activist reveal what they admire in the other side and discuss what’s really at stake in this debate.

July 18, 2013

We’re used to hearing about Detroit as a symbol of economic collapse. With the recent news coverage of city's financial crisis and declaration of bankruptcy, we travel to a city of vigor where joyful, passionate people are reimagining work, food, and the very meaning of humanity. The Chinese-American philosopher and civil rights legend Grace Lee Boggs is the heart and soul of this largely hidden story, which holds lessons for us all.

July 11, 2013

Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life.

July 04, 2013

Silence is an endangered species, says Gordon Hempton. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise. The Earth, as he knows it, is a "solar-powered jukebox." Quiet is a "think tank of the soul." We take in the world through his ears.

June 2013

June 27, 2013

A kind of archeologist of the human voice, singer and composer Meredith Monk says that "the voice could be like the body" — flexible and fluid with practice. Through music as through meditation, the longtime Buddhist practitioner pushes the boundaries of what we can do without words.

June 20, 2013

Gender defines us from the moment we’re born. But how is that related to the lifelong work of being at home in ourselves? For as far back as Joy Ladin can remember, her body didn’t match her soul. We explore this question through her story of transition from male to female — in an orthodox Jewish world.

June 13, 2013

Sarah Kay says that listening is the better part of speaking. A spoken word poet who’s become a role model for teenagers around the world, she shares how she works with words to make connections — inside people and between them.

June 06, 2013

Are we in the matrix? Physicist James Gates reveals why string theory stretches our imaginations about the nature of reality. Also, how failure makes us more complete, and imagination makes us more knowledgeable.

May 2013

May 30, 2013

You might call Tami Simon a spiritual entrepreneur. She's built a successful multimedia publishing company with a mission to disseminate "spiritual wisdom" by diverse teachers and thinkers like Pema Chödrön and Eckhart Tolle, Daniel Goleman and Brené Brown. She offers compelling lessons on joining inner life with life in the workplace — and advice on spiritual practice with a mobile device.

May 23, 2013

The poet Christian Wiman is giving voice to the hunger for faith — and the challenges of faith — for people living now. After a Texas upbringing soaked in a history of violence and a charismatic Christian culture, he was agnostic until he became actively religious again in his late 30s. Then he was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable blood cancer. He's bearing witness to something new happening in himself and in the world.

May 15, 2013

Disruption is around every corner by way of globally connected economies, inevitable superstorms, and technology’s endless reinvention. But most of us were born into a culture which aspired to solve all problems. How do we support people and create systems that know how to recover, persist, and even thrive in the face of change? Andrew Zolli introduces "resilience thinking," a new generation’s wisdom for a world of constant change.

May 09, 2013

The best way to nurture children's inner lives, Sylvia Boorstein says, is by taking care of our own inner selves for their sake. At a public event in suburban Detroit, Krista Tippett draws out the warmth and wisdom of the celebrated Jewish-Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. And, in a light-hearted moment that is an audience pleaser, Boorstein shares what GPS might teach us about "recalculating" and our own inner equanimity.

May 02, 2013

How do we prime our brains to take the meandering mental paths necessary for creativity? New techniques of brain imaging, Rex Jung says, are helping us gain a whole new view on the differences between intelligence, creativity, and personality. He unsettles some old assumptions — and suggests some new connections between creativity and family life, creativity and aging, and creativity and purpose.

April 2013

April 25, 2013

An enchanting hour of poetry drawing on the ways family and religion shape our lives. Marie Howe works and plays with her Catholic upbringing, the universal drama of family, and the ordinary time that sustains us. The moral life, she says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do — and so words have a power to save us.

April 18, 2013

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.

April 09, 2013

One of the values of science is to make us uncomfortable says Lawrence Krauss. The particle physicist explains why we should all care about dark energy and the Higgs Boson particle. Science literacy matters, and, more importantly, he suggests we should take joy in science — just as we cultivate enjoyment of arts we may not completely comprehend.

April 04, 2013

A reframed, redemptive conversation about same-sex marriage with the subject before the Supreme Court. Coming to the gay marriage debate from two, predictable opposing directions, David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch both have an equal desire to strengthen the institution of marriage. They're now showing all of us another way forward in grappling with the future of marriage.

March 2013

March 28, 2013

An hour with the extraordinary humanity of Congressman John Lewis. The civil rights movement he helped animate was — as he tells it — love in action. He opens up the art and the discipline that made nonviolence work then — and that he offers up for our common life even today.

March 21, 2013

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.

March 14, 2013

Fairy tales don't only belong to the domain of childhood. Their overt themes are threaded throughout hit TV series like Game of Thrones and True Blood, Grimm and Once Upon a Time. These stories survive, says Maria Tatar, by adapting across cultures and history. They are carriers of the plots we endlessly re-work in the narratives of our lives — helping us work through things like fear and hope.

March 07, 2013

Kevin Kling is part funny guy, part poet and playwright, part wise man. Born with a disabled left arm, he lost the use of his right one after a motorcycle accident nearly killed him. He shares his special angle on life's humor and its ruptures — and why we turn loss into story.

February 2013

February 26, 2013

A Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg Boyle makes winsome connections between service and delight, and compassion and awe. He heads Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members in a constellation of businesses. This is not work of helping, he says, but of finding kinship. The point of Christian service, as he lives it, is about “our common calling to delight in one another.”

February 21, 2013

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.

February 14, 2013

A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all.

February 07, 2013

Civil rights veteran Vincent Harding died this week at the age of 82. He had a long lens of wisdom on how social change happens. He believed America is still a developing nation when it comes to creating a multi-religious, multi-racial democracy. Vincent Harding spent recent decades bringing young people into creative contact with elders, civil rights veterans — offering experiences of them, as he said, not as figures in history books but "as living and lively and magnificent." We remember Vincent Harding and how he embodied that legacy and its wisdom for us.

January 2013

January 31, 2013

A globally admired voice of an emerging Muslim American dream. Rami Nashashibi uses graffiti, calligraphy, and hip hop in his work as a healing force on the South Side of Chicago. He's an activist who converges religious virtues, social action, and the arts. His life is a creative response to ethical confusion in a world of disparity.

January 24, 2013

An original and helpful voice on this landscape of digital connection for which there are no maps. Seth Godin is a singular thought leader and innovator in what he describes as our post-industrial, post-geography "connection economy." Rather than merely tolerate change, he says, we are all called now to rise to it. We are invited and stretched in whatever we do to be artists — to create in ways that matter to other people.

January 17, 2013

Poetry is something many of us seem to be hungry for these days. We're hungry for fresh ways to tell hard truths and redemptive stories, for language that would elevate and embolden rather than demean and alienate. Elizabeth Alexander shares her sense of what poetry works in us — and in our children — and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times.

January 10, 2013

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news and horrific pictures in the world. This is a form of empathy, Joan Halifax says, that works against us. The Zen abbot and medical anthropologist has bracing, nourishing thoughts on finding buoyancy rather than burnout in how we work, live, and care.

January 03, 2013

Learning to talk, acquiring language, is one of the most remarkable and ordinary things human beings do. A playful conversation with a legend in the field of psycholinguistics, who says it’s as thrilling a frontier as outer space or the deep sea.

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