Walter Brueggemann is one of the world’s great teachers about the prophets who both anchor the Hebrew Bible and have transcended it across history. He translates their imagination from the chaos of ancient times to our own. He somehow also embodies this tradition’s fearless truth-telling together with fierce hope — and how it conveys ideas with disarming language. “The task is reframing,” he says, “so that we can re-experience the social realities that are right in front of us, from a different angle.”
Public Theology Reimagined
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.
August 30, 2018
The Bible, Poetry, and Active Imagination
“Prayers are tools not for doing or getting but for being and becoming.” These are words of the legendary pastor and writer Eugene Peterson, whose biblical imagination has formed generations of preachers. At the back of the church he led for nearly three decades, you’d be likely to find well-worn copies of books by Wallace Stegner or Denise Levertov. Frustrated with the unimaginative way he found his congregants treating their Bibles, he translated it himself, and that translation has sold millions of copies around the world. Eugene Peterson’s down-to-earth faith hinges on a love of metaphor and a commitment to the Bible’s poetry as what keeps it alive to the world.
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There’s a kind of brilliance that flashes up in early adulthood: an ability to see the world whole. Nathan Schneider has been able to articulate and sustain that far-seeing eye of young adulthood. He’s also a gifted writer, chronicling the world he and his compatriots are helping to make — spiritual, technological, and communal. At the Chautauqua Institution, we explore the wisdom of a millennial generation public intellectual on the emerging fabric of human identity.
She became a national figure as the face of the “Nuns on the Bus.” Sr. Simone Campbell is a lawyer, lobbyist, poet, and Zen contemplative working on issues such as “mending the wealth gap,” “enacting a living wage,” and “crafting a faithful budget that benefits the 100%.” She is a helpful voice for longings so many of us share, across differences, about how to engage with the well-being of our neighbors in this complicated age.
October 23, 2014
Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace
She’s the tattooed, Lutheran pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, a church where a chocolate fountain, a blessing of the bicycles, and serious liturgy come together. She’s a face of the Emerging Church — redefining what church is, with deep reverence for tradition.
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.
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.
A few years ago, journalist Pankaj Mishra pursued the social relevance of the Buddha’s thought across India and Europe, Afghanistan and America. He emerged with a startling critique of Western political economy that is even more resonant today as he pursued the social relevance of the Buddha’s core questions: Do desiring and acquiring make us happy? Does large-scale political change really address human suffering?
January 3, 2008
Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century
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.
October 25, 2007
Paul Elie, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Robin Lovin
Moral Man and Immoral Society: Rediscovering Reinhold Niebuhr
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.
With Iraq veteran and chaplain Major John Morris, we explore how war challenges the human spirit and the core tenets of a life of faith. The War on Terror, he says, presents its own spiritual challenges. He is working to support the reintegration of National Guard and Reserve personnel, who are being mobilized for active duty at record levels in Afghanistan and Iraq.
March 22, 2007
Charles Villa-Vicencio and Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
Truth and Reconciliation
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held public sessions from 1996 to 1998, and concluded its work in 2004. In an attempt to rebuild its society without retribution, the Commission created a new model for grappling with a history of extreme violence. The basic premise of the Commission was that any individual, whatever he or she had done, was eligible for amnesty if they would fully disclose and confess their crimes.
Victims were invited to tell their stories and witness confessions. Through the TRC, many families finally came to know when and how their loved ones died. By the end of the hearings, the Commission took statements from more than 20,000 victims of Apartheid and received applications for amnesty from 7,100 perpetrators.
We explore the religious implications of truth and reconciliation with two people — one black, one white — who did the work of the Commission in charge of it.
February 2, 2006
Ethics and the Will of God: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose life spanned the rise and fall of Hitler’s Germany, offers us a model of personal morality and conscience in the most troubled and immoral of times. His resistance of Nazi ideology, while much of the German church succumbed, is a testament to his moral vision and faith. Krista speaks with producer Martin Doblmeier, whose 2003 documentary chronicled Bonhoeffer’s life and thought, about the legacy of this unusual theologian.
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.
June 9, 2005
Khaled Abou El Fadl and Harold M. Schulweis
Religion and Our World in Crisis
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.
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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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