Speaking of Faith

A friend (thanks Dena!) introduced me to American Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett program awhile ago and I have been meaning to mention it here. From their website:

Krista takes a narrative, or first-person, approach to religious and philosophical conversation. She draws out the intersection of theology and human experience, of grand religious ideas and real life.

I have been thoroughly enjoying these programs and have been surprised at the effects some of them have had on me. I think the thing that really appeals to me is that it is about people’s experiences with faith and how faith (or lack thereof) has affected their lives. There is no preaching, no trying to convince, no one religion is better than another. Just good honest discussion about meaningful ideas and what they mean. And their webpage for each program contains an incredible wealth of resources for learning more.

I have learned a lot about different religious traditions that I was unfamiliar with as well as found some programs that spoke directly to my heart and have helped me on my own spiritual path.

There used to be an explanation about why they took the approach they did but I can’t seem to find the link now. But here is what I had copied in a previous email I had written about it:

Hearing people talk from their experience, out of their story, is fundamentally different from hearing their conclusions and doctrines first. With Speaking of Faith, we are introducing a new way of talking about religion, one which will be both informative and illuminating as well as complementary to existing religion news coverage.

Journalistic reporting about religion often asks people to speak for a tradition, or for God. And for understandable reasons it favors guests - including religious leaders - who are willing, even bound, to do so. Therefore many discussions about perspectives that religion/faith/belief could bring to our civic life begin like this:

“Christians believe…” “Judaism asserts…” “Muslims insist…” “The Bible says…”

The trouble is, these kinds of pronouncements put listeners on the defensive. In fact, they even foster division within traditions.

The first-person approach behind Speaking of Faith sidesteps the predictable minefields and opens the subject wide, making it inviting, both in ambiance and substance. It insists that people speak straight from the experience behind their own personal beliefs. How did they come to hold the truths they hold? How are religious insights given depth and nuance by the complexities of life?

This way of speaking also has the effect of opening the listener’s mind. I can disagree with another person’s opinion; I can’t disagree with his or her experience. Because I know where they are coming from, I am capable of some understanding - even compassion - about why they think that way. Moreover, because I have heard their story I am able to attach a person, a humanity, to their conclusions, and I will never quite be able to dismiss that position or denomination in the abstract in the same way again.

Speaking of Faith, however, doesn’t stop at the story. The first-person approach, after all, could be just another dead end if it didn’t move beyond personal confessional. That is where my role as a theologically-trained journalist is critical. I engage people at that personal level, but I also invite them to articulate the important ideas and the deep, relevant perspectives that faith can add to our private and public lives.

I highly recommend checking it out. Some of my favorite programs have been:

And I have not even made my way through half the programs. These programs are very thought-provoking and most importantly to me, very respectful of everyone’s journey. Well worth checking out.

You can listen directly from the website or you can subscribe to their podcast.

I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have!