Episodes Archive

Our Latest Show December 11, 2014

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.

Episode Archive

December 2008

December 25, 2008

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.

December 18, 2008

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.

December 11, 2008

We explore human and spiritual aspects of economic downturn with a wise public intellectual of our time, the Quaker author and educator Parker Palmer. He works with people from all walks of life at the intersection of spiritual, professional, and social change, and stresses the need to acknowledge the inner life of human beings as a source of reality and power.

December 04, 2008

We explore the complex ethics of global aid with a young writer from Kenya, Binyavanga Wainaina. He is among a rising generation of African voices who bring a cautionary perspective to the morality and efficacy behind many Western initiatives to abolish poverty and speed development in Africa.

November 2008

November 27, 2008

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.

November 20, 2008

We seek fresh insight into the history and the human and religious dynamics of Islam's Sunni-Shia divide. Our guest says that it is not so different from dynamics in periods of Western Christian history. But he says that by bringing the majority Shia to power in Iraq, the U.S. has changed the religions dynamics of the Middle East.

November 13, 2008

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.

November 06, 2008

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.

October 2008

October 30, 2008

Americans remain divided about how much religion they want in their political life. As we elect a new president, we return to an evocative, relevant conversation from earlier this year with journalist Steven Waldman. From his unusual study of the American founders, he understands why 21st-century struggles over religion in the public square spur passionate disagreement and entanglement with politics at its most impure.

October 23, 2008

The current U.S. presidential election has illustrated how gender, race, and religion can become lightning rods, and may be seen as potential stumbling blocks to leadership. Vashti McKenzie is a pioneering figure on all these fronts. When she became the first woman bishop of the oldest historic black church in America, she declared, "The stained glass ceiling has been pierced and broken." We offer her story, her wisdom, and her good humor as an edifying lens on the American past, present, and future.

October 16, 2008

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.

October 09, 2008

The second part of our examination of religious energies below the surface of the 2008 presidential campaign. Conservative columnist Rod Dreher is an outspoken critic of mainstream Republican economic and environmental ideas and the conduct of the Iraq war, but he voted for George W. Bush twice. We explore the little-known story of religiously influenced impulses within the conservative movement that diverge from the Religious Right.

October 02, 2008

The Religious Right has gotten a fair amount of coverage in recent years, while the political Left has rarely been represented with a religious sensibility. Our guest, a national correspondent for Time magazine is a political liberal and an Evangelical Christian who has been observing the Democratic Party's complex relationship with faith and the little-told story of its response to the rise of the Religious Right.

September 2008

September 25, 2008

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.

September 18, 2008

The birth of the Pentecostal movement began 100 years ago on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. We'll be taking our show on the road to cover this global gathering and revival that is reshaping Christianity, culture, and politics worldwide.

 

September 11, 2008

Yoga has infiltrated law schools and strip malls, churches and hospitals. This 5,000-year-old spiritual technology is converging with 21st-century medical science and with many religious and philosophical perspectives. Seane Corn takes us inside the practicalities and power of yoga. She describes how it helps her face the darkness in herself and the world, and how she’s come to see yoga as a form of body prayer.

September 04, 2008

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.

 

 

August 2008

August 28, 2008

James Prosek is an artist, fly-fisher, author, and environmental activist who has always, as he puts it, found God "through the theater of nature." From a young age he has been fascinated by trout and now eel - which he sees as "mystical creatures" - and he's captured them literally and artistically, by way of both angling and paint. We explore the sense of meaning and mystery he has developed along the way, including his concern with how we humans limit our sense of other creatures by the names we give them.

August 21, 2008

In this program we revisit a 2007 conversation with evangelical leaders Rick and Kay Warren — exploring where they came from and what motivates them. Rick Warren hosted the first post-primary joint appearance of Barack Obama and John McCain at his Saddleback Church in southern California, one of the largest churches in the U.S. This two hour event, broadcast live on CNN, is just one sign of the cross-cultural authority he and Kay have achieved in a handful of years.

August 14, 2008

One of today's most influential spiritual teachers shares his youthful experience of depression and despair — suffering that led him to his own spiritual breakthrough, and ultimately, freedom and peace of mind. He also explicates his view of what he calls "the pain body" — the accumulated emotional pain that may influence us and our relationships in negative ways. And Tolle talks about spirit and God, and what those concepts mean to him.

August 07, 2008

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.

July 2008

July 31, 2008

The news has been marked in recent years, at regular intervals, by the moral and practical downfall of prominent businesses. Jonathan Greenblatt is among a new generation of entrepreneurs who want to lead a fundamental shift in corporate culture as well as philanthropy — a merger between making a profit and doing good. We explore his way of seeing the world and his economics of "ethical brand architecture" and "fiercely pragmatic idealism."

July 24, 2008

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.

July 17, 2008

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.

July 10, 2008

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.

July 03, 2008

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.

June 2008

June 26, 2008

Kate Braestrup is a chaplain to game wardens, often on search and rescue missions, in the wilds of Maine. She works, as she puts it, at hinges of human experience when lives alter unexpectedly — where loss, disaster, decency and beauty intertwine. Hear her wise and unusual take on life and death, lost and found.

June 19, 2008

Language is a carrier of human identity. It is a vehicle by which we understand and express our very sense of self. Novelist and translator David Treuer is helping to compile the first practical grammar of the Ojibwe language. He describes an unfolding experience of how language forms what makes us human. Some memories and realities, he has found, can only be carried forward in time by Ojibwe.

June 12, 2008

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.

June 05, 2008

Rabbi Heschel marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr., famously reporting that he felt like his legs were praying. Heschel practiced what he called “radical amazement” in his work with religious others. “The opposite of good is not evil,” he said, “it is indifference.”

May 2008

May 29, 2008

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.

May 20, 2008

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.

 

 

May 15, 2008

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 08, 2008

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.

May 01, 2008

We received hundreds of essays in response to our query about what anchors and unsettles our Catholic audience. So we asked some of you to speak about your tradition. The moving reflections we heard prompted us to depart from our usual format and bring you a fabric of voices from the Church itself.

April 2008

April 24, 2008

A remarkable Kenyan woman and environmentalist speaks from experience about the links between ecology, human flourishing, war and peace, and democracy. And she shares her thoughts on where God resides.

April 17, 2008

A passionate discussion is unfolding in public and in private among Evangelical leaders and communities. Should Christians be involved in politics and if so, how? What has gone wrong, and what has been learned from the Moral Majority up until now. In this live public conversation, Krista probes these ideas with three formative Evangelicals.

April 10, 2008

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."

April 03, 2008

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.

March 2008

March 27, 2008

In a recent Pew poll, 16 percent of Americans identified themselves as "unaffiliated" — atheist, agnostic, or most prominently "nothing in particular." Greg Epstein, a Humanist chaplain at Harvard, described himself that way until he discovered the tradition of humanism. He is passionate about articulating an atheist identity that is not driven by a stance against religion but by positive ethical beliefs and actions.

March 20, 2008

The idea of reciting an unchanging creed sounds suspicious to modern ears. But the late, great historian Jaroslav Pelikan illuminated ancient tradition in order to enliven faith in the present and the future. He insisted that strong statements of belief will be necessary if pluralism in the 21st century is to thrive. We take in his moving, provocative perspective on our enduring need for creeds.

March 13, 2008

Americans remain divided about how much religion they want in their political life. As we elect a new president, we return to an evocative, relevant conversation from earlier this year with journalist Steven Waldman. From his unusual study of the American founders, he understands why 21st-century struggles over religion in the public square spur passionate disagreement and entanglement with politics at its most impure.

March 06, 2008

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.

February 2008

February 28, 2008

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.

February 21, 2008

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.

February 14, 2008

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.

February 07, 2008

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.

January 2008

January 31, 2008

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.

January 24, 2008

Americans have been hearing a lot about Mormonism in the context of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. But much of the public discussion of this faith of 13 million people has focused on controversies in the church's history. We'll avoid well-trodden ground to seek an understanding of the lived beliefs and spirituality of Latter Day Saints, with a leading scholar of the church and a lifelong practitioner. Robert Millet describes a developing young religion with distinct mystical and practical interpretations of the nature of God, family, and eternity.

January 17, 2008

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.

January 10, 2008

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.

January 03, 2008

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.

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