The renowned actor as you’ve never heard him before. He has appeared in over 100 films, including Apocalypse Now. He’s best known on television as President Bartlet in The West Wing. But Martin Sheen, born and still legally named Ramón Estévez, has had another lesser-known life as a spiritual seeker and activist. He returned to a deep and joyful Catholic faith after a crisis at the height of his fame in mid-life. He’s been arrested over 60 times in vigils and protests. “Piety is something you do alone,” he says. “True freedom, spirituality, can only be achieved in community.”
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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.
“There’s no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love.”
South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on how his understanding of God and humanity has unfolded through the history he’s lived and shaped.
“Let’s go back and look at our faith before it was reduced to a system, before it was reduced to a system of abstractions and beliefs. How can we rediscover our faith as a series of stories and as a series of encounters?” Brian McLaren on the evolution of Christianity and the meaning of progressive Evangelicalism.
The writers Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, social activist Dorothy Day, and the Trappist monk Thomas Merton — all four shared a complex Catholic faith. Paul Elie takes us on a kind of literary pilgrimage through a Catholic imagination that still resonates in our time.
January 23, 2014
Ursula King, Andrew Revkin, and David Sloan Wilson
Teilhard de Chardin's "Planetary Mind" and Our Spiritual Evolution
The coming stage of evolution, Teilhard de Chardin said, won’t be driven by physical adaptation but by human consciousness, creativity, and spirit. We visit with his biographer Ursula King, and we experience his ideas energizing New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson.
Two Christian leaders are working to restore Christian engagement in the world. Gabe Lyons and Jim Daly discuss how they who are reshaping their part in common life, and the common good. This often surprising conversation addresses subjects like gay marriage, abortion, and the strident reputation that Christian evangelicals have earned in the past decade.
From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to CNN, Joanna Brooks has become a go-to voice during our national inspection of Mormonism in this presidential campaign. As Mitt Romney makes history, we revisit our personal and revealing conversation with the Ask Mormon Girl blogger. She opens a window on Mormonism as an evolving and far from monolithic faith.
August 2, 2012
Fr. Alberto Ambrosio + Metropolitan Elpidophoros Lambriniadis
Spiritual Boundaries in Modern Turkey
The second show from our recent trip to Istanbul. We meet a Dominican friar whose Christianity is inspired by the mystical tradition of Islam. And, an Eastern Orthodox bishop is creating what he calls a “dialogue of life” as a religious minority in this crucible of the ancient church.
April 5, 2012
Restoring the Senses: Gardening and Orthodox Easter
An understanding of Easter from inside the Armenian Orthodox tradition that is at once mystical and literally down to earth. Vigen Guroian is a theologian who experiences Easter as a call to our senses. He is passionate about the meaning of grand ideas like incarnation, death, and eternity as revealed in life and in his garden.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush opens up a hidden but possibly re-emerging influence in the DNA of American Christianity, reaching back to the Social Gospel movement at the turn of the 20th century. And, the Huffington Post religion editor shares what he’s learning about religion in this century’s evolving realm of technology.
June 9, 2011
Anthea Butler + Arlene Sánchez-Walsh
Reviving Sister Aimee
A look back at the closest thing the early 20th century may have had to Oprah Winfrey. The flamboyant Pentecostal preacher Aimee Semple McPherson was a multimedia sensation and a powerful female religious leader long before most of Christianity considered such a thing. The contradictions and passions of her life are a window into the world of global Pentecostalism that touches as many as half a billion lives today.
Shane Claiborne is a leading spirit in a gathering movement of young people known as the New Monastics. Emerging from the edges of Evangelical Christianity, they are patterning their lives in response to the needs of the poor — and the detachment they see in our culture’s vision of adulthood.
February 5, 2009
Evolution and Wonder: Understanding Charles Darwin
We’ll take a fresh and thought-provoking look at Darwin’s life and ideas. He did not argue against God but against a simple understanding of the world — its beauty, its brutality, and its unfolding creation.
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.
September 18, 2008
Spiritual Tidal Wave: The Origins and Impact of Pentecostalism
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.
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.
May 1, 2008
Cheryl Blake, Jef Murray, David Dixon, et al.
The Beauty and Challenge of Being Catholic: Hearing the Faithful
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.
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.
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The Pause is our Saturday morning newsletter, a gathering of threads from the far-flung, ongoing conversation that is The On Being Project. Stay up to date with our latest podcasts, writings, live events, and more.
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