Carlo Rovelli offers vast, complex ideas beyond most of our imagining — “quanta,” “grains of space,” “time and the heat of black holes” — and condenses them into spare, beautiful words that render them newly explicable and moving. He is the scientist behind the global bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, and for him, all of reality is interaction — an everyday truth as scientific as it is philosophical and political. This physicist’s way of seeing the world helps make sense of what he calls “the huge wave of happenings” that is the human self.
The Terri Schiavo case earlier this year raised ethical and medical issues that remain with us today. But missing in that debate was a real attention to the quality and the meaning of death. Joan Halifax tells us what she’s learned and how she lives differently after three decades accompanying others to the final boundary of human life.
What are the origins of communion, and what is its deepest social relevance? Two leading theologians of communion describe a ritual that is not just personally meaningful for the believer, but also collectively and ethically challenging for Christians.
Two people with unique perspectives both discovered ecumenism — the movement to reconcile Christian churches — during the Civil Rights era. They’ll describe what they’ve learned about grappling with vexing clashes of difference, and why reconciliation among different Christians still matters in a multi-religious, post-Katrina world.
Stereotypes tell us this: Evangelical Christians are politically conservative, closed-minded, morally judgmental, and anti-science. We speak with two creative members of a new generation of Evangelical thinkers and teachers, who defy stereotypes and reveal an evolving character for this vast movement that describes 40 percent of Americans.
Religious extremism drives some of the most intractable conflicts around the world. Our guest knows this shadow side of the Christian faith in his personal history. We’ll speak about what goes wrong when religion turns violent, and why, he believes, the cure for religious zealotry is not less religion but more religion — or rather stronger and more intelligent practices of faith.
In the years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, scrutiny of the religion of Islam has become part and parcel of our public life. In forums of all kinds, often guided by non-Muslim pundits, we ask, what does terrorism have to do with the teachings of the Qur’an? Can Islam coexist with democracy? Is Islam capable of a reformation, or has it fallen into hopeless decay?
We pose these questions to a spectrum of American Muslims who describe themselves as devout and moderate. Our guests take us inside the way Muslims discuss such questions among themselves, and they suggest that when we consider “the Muslim world” we must look first at Islam in this country. In this open society, they say, Islam has found a home like no other.
If sport is an American religion, is that bad for us? What is the metaphysic of baseball? In this show, we’ll speak with a theologian and sports fan who has spent much of his career studying the religious character of rituals in sporting events and the spiritual significance of fans’ attention to sports.
In this personal exchange between a Jewish rabbi and Islamic scholar, host Krista Tippett explores the integrity of religious faith and openness to the faiths of others. In a world in which religious experience is implicated in violence, two thinkers discuss how it is possible to love their own traditions and honor those of others.
This program was recorded live at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles in June 2003.
There are an estimated 4,000 Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military, though some counts place that number much higher. We’ll speak with the first Muslim imam in the US Army Chaplaincy — Major Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad — about Iraq, faith, and military service.
The American public supports the principle of capital punishment, but there is a growing consensus among Jewish and Christian thinkers — across traditional liberal/conservative lines — that it should be abolished in this country or suspended while the system for imposing it is made more just. Reflections on justice, forgiveness, and the nature of God shed new light on America’s death penalty debate.
We explore the human and religious implications of natural disasters through the eyes of two scientists steeped in the workings of the natural world. We approach the morality of nature from a non-theological angle, tracing how natural disasters have sometimes fueled religious agendas and movements and how strictly scientific perspectives can both challenge and illuminate religious questions.
John Paul II’s papacy was dramatic and historic on many fronts. We explore some of the critical religious issues of his 26 years as pontiff and discusses the great and contradictory impact he made on the Catholic Church in America and abroad.
New Testament writings about Jews may sound inflammatory in modern ears. A New Testament scholar with ties to both Judaism and Christianity helps us put these writings in context and look for meaning in the Passion that Hollywood and popular culture can’t convey.
The idea of human cloning both fascinates and repulses many, and challenges us to ask difficult religious questions?
We explore the ideas and present-day relevance of 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, an influential, boundary-crossing voice in American public life. Niebuhr created the term “Christian realism:” a middle path between religious idealism and arrogance. Exploring his wide appeal, three distinctive voices describe Niebuhr’s legacy and ask what insights he brings to the political and religious dynamics of the early 21st century.
During the past decade, there has been an explosion of films and television programs containing religious and spiritual themes. Mel Gibson’s The “Passion of the Christ” was only the tip of the iceberg. As new generations of Americans work out their spiritual and religious questions, they are increasingly turning to fantasy. We’ll explore the deeper appeal of films like “Harry Potter” and “The Matrix,” and we’ll ask how fantasy in media reflects a changing spiritual imagination, especially in younger Americans.
We deconstruct the phrase “moral values,” which has confused and divided Americans since November’s election. As the second term of George W. Bush commences, political analyst Steven Waldman helps explore what these words do and do not convey to liberals and conservatives, and why they still matter. What is at stake when both sides fail to understand the moral convictions of the other?
We experience the religious thought and the spiritual vitality of two Muslims—male and female—both American and both with roots in ancient Islamic cultural, intellectual, and spiritual traditions. Their stories and ideas, music, and readings, evoke a sense of the richness of global Islamic spirituality and of some of its hidden nuances and beauty. They reveal how sound, music, and especially poetry offer a window onto the subtleties and humanity of Islamic religious experience.