Public theology is about the virtues that accompany the work of theology, not just the ideas. It means connecting grand religious ideas with messy human reality. It means articulating religious and spiritual points of view to challenge and deepen thinking on every side of every important question.

This project is about exploring a new generation of public theology for this century. We inhabit a world in which spiritual life is a fluid and dispersed, multi-faceted, and multiply articulated thing. Seekers and thinkers outside the bounds of religious tradition — scientists and artists, social entrepreneurs and poets — are illuminating the ancient questions of what it means to be human and who we are to each other. And the non-religious among us are some of the most passionate voices calling tradition to its own service-oriented heart. On Being will explore these dynamics through radio shows and podcasts, blogs, and public events. Check in often for what will be an evolving adventure.

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38 episodes

January 26, 2017
September 15, 2016

32 COMMENTARIES

January 17, 2017
By Angie Thurston

At its best learning can also be a spiritual quest. A community of millennials is forging new networks for lifelong learning — that take the soul into account.

January 16, 2017
By Jennifer Bailey

For many people of color, the feeling of safety is fluid and often fleeting. On this MLK Day, a young AME minister invokes the presence of her ancestors and chooses community over chaos, calling for brave spaces for sharing truths and collective healing.

LYNCHBURG, VA - JANUARY 18: Supporters of Donald Trump reach for bumper stickers before the Republican presidential candidate delivers the convocation at the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University on January 18, 2016 in Lynchburg, Virginia. A billionaire real estate mogul and reality television personality, Trump addressed students and guests at the non-profit, private Christian university that was founded in 1971 by evangelical Southern Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
November 22, 2016
By Yolanda Pierce

An African-American professor who has spent her life building bridges across racial divides questions whether she can continue knowing that four out of five white Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump.

November 21, 2016
By Broderick Greer

A Thanksgiving reflection on scarcity and abundance, and the sacred work of inviting our neighbors and strangers alike to the table.

November 1, 2016
By Casper ter Kuile

The battlefield of politics can leave us feeling voiceless. One organization is reimagining civic participation, and rediscovering the possibility of imagination in public life.

October 4, 2016
By Angie Thurston

We spend lifetimes answering that universal (and universally vexing) question: “What am I for?” From patron saints to superhero alter egos, Angie Thurston explores the diverse ways people are discovering, creating, and boldly asserting their own identities.

October 3, 2016
By Sharon Brous

To be part of any family is to bear witness to its joy, as well as its dysfunction. For Rosh Hashanah, Sharon Brous explores the intimate link between family healing and social responsibility at the heart of Jewish faith.

September 12, 2016
By Mohammed Fairouz

As the United Nations prepares for its 71st session, Mohammed Fairouz honors the courage of those who came before us to make bold vows and asks us to step beyond our cynicism to achieve our greatest aspirations.

August 19, 2016
By Angie Thurston

Our culture has a profound discomfort with walking openly through grief. An exploration of the healing power of companionship and openness after loss — embodied in groundbreaking gatherings for millennials longing to heal together.

August 5, 2016
By Don C. Richter

Athleticism can pay off with glory and spectacle, but it’s also a daily ritual, a crucible for character. Theologian Don C. Richter explores the the spiritual underpinnings of the discipline of sport.

July 18, 2016
By Mohammed Fairouz

Our public discourse has been infiltrated by ego and self-interest. Mohammed Fairouz challenges convictions of correctness on all sides, and calls for a humbler, more generous political spirit.

July 9, 2016
By Casper ter Kuile

For many, the cycling class-phenom SoulCycle is more than a way to burn calories. It fosters the experiences we used to find only within the walls of a church: collective identity, safety, and spiritual catharsis.

June 12, 2016
By Paul Raushenbush

In a jagged spirit of rawness and redemption, Paul Raushenbush remembers the nightclubs where he found community and transcendence and joy. Despite its scarcity, he calls us to answer the mandate of love rather than anger as a redemptive force… because he has no other option.

June 6, 2016
By Casper ter Kuile

As more millennials declare themselves “spiritual but not religious,” what does meaningful community look like in the 21st century? For legions of CrossFit enthusiasts, it’s a community of care and nurturing — and a place where you can also perfect your squat.

May 8, 2016
By Mohammed Fairouz

Our cultural treasures of music, art, and literature can bind us together. But in an era of interconnectedness, our art can also be woven together with our statecraft. Mohammed Fairouz cautions against cultural appropriation by charting the story of our universal cultural heritage, from the court of ancients to the modern day.

May 2, 2016
By Andrew Zolli

Our capacity to understand the planet is limited by our perception. With the help of Earth-imaging satellites, Andrew Zolli charts the new vistas of our awareness and finds a renewed ability to see the world whole.

April 23, 2016
By Marty Kaplan

The importance of religion to Americans is trending downward. Meanwhile, more people are saying they experience a deep sense of wonder and awe about the universe. A secular Jew on the importance of the Passover, ritual of Seder, and the paradise of kinship.

April 18, 2016
By Paul Elie

Pope Francis had an extraordinary week issuing a seminal document on love and family, travelling to a refugee “hot zone,” and meeting Bernie Sanders in Rome. The common thread: the pope’s willingness to accompany people where they’re at and walk alongside humanity, whether it be a Syrian refugee or a U.S. presidential candidate.

April 12, 2016
By Sarah Smarsh

In this hyper-connected world, we lose a sense of the physical spaces crafted for ritual and coming together. Our new columnist Sarah Smarsh on the importance of built, sacred spaces in a secular world.

April 10, 2016
By Seth Chalmer

A secular Jewish man takes umbrage when his close Christian friend says he believes he will go to hell. After he returns to his religious tradition, he says, he understands these inner and outer tensions as essential to faith — even if they disagree with his personal wishes.

April 2, 2016
By Broderick Greer

Our Public Theology Reimagined columnist calls on people of faith and conscience to come into proximity with execution sites like Ell Persons. When we experience these liminal spaces, we are reminded of our capacity to become preoccupied with domination and overlook the lives of the powerless and the message of Jesus’ crucifixion.

March 24, 2016
By Megan Sweas

Pope Francis’ move to open the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual to women earlier this year was big news, but it wasn’t all that innovative. A groundswell of laypeople called to the work of washing feet every day — in parishes, hospitals, and high schools — are reinvigorating ritual.

February 16, 2016
By Mohammed Fairouz

Some of our greatest cultural treasures are seemingly beyond reproach when it comes to honest criticism. Watching The King and I, a composer acknowledges the inherent racism and reflects on how we can appreciate its art and still question in ethical and moral shortcomings alongside its greatness.

February 10, 2016
By Broderick Greer

Ash Wednesday is often understood as an opportunity to engage in the practice of personal improvement. But, what if it were used to look outward and create a more just, merciful society rather than ending with our hearts?

January 31, 2016
By Claire Dietrich Ranna

When we encounter the stranger, a deepening exchange takes place. Through the metaphor of marriage and her own personal vows, an Episcopal priest calls for a return to unity and the remembrance of the shared history and values that bind Christians and Muslims together.

January 12, 2016
By Stephen Goeman

When a young, Evangelical Christian is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it’s the music legend David Bowie who provides him with salvation and a renewed hope in “the Church of Man.”

December 27, 2015
By Mohammed Fairouz

The political rhetoric of making America great again points at the decline of not only U.S. power, but the erosion of trust among its allies and its own citizens. Mohammed Fairouz stands up for his community in this particular moment in time.

October 31, 2015
By Mohammed Fairouz

Civilizations elevate the best in cultures and people. A composer encourages us to rethink the phrase “clash of civilizations” and, by definition, civilization can only fuel human flourishing.

September 27, 2015
By Paul Anderson

Hand-scribed illuminations with superb calligraphy and embossed with gold leaf adorn the The Saint John’s Bible, the first one of its kind to be commissioned in half a millennia. Drawing on key parables from the gospel of Luke, a theologian reflects on the enduring, prophetic message of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation, and being a good neighbor.

September 22, 2015
By Dave Joseph

Atoning for one’s shortcomings can be a challenge, especially as a child. A conflict mediator tells his story of moving from feelings of self-castigation to an opportunity for healing confession on this solemn Day of Atonement.

September 21, 2015
By Mohammed Fairouz

Two sacred celebrations coincide this year. Through the ancient story of Joseph, Mohammed Fairouz reimagines a world bound together in a common family and a common future.

July 25, 2015
By Mohammed Fairouz

For the world-weary, cynicism may feel safe. But, in our efforts toward self-protection, what might we be missing? A Millennial reflects on the doubt and distrust he sees in his generation, and suggests a courageous counterpoint: sincere and hopeful optimism.

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