Episodes Archive

Our Latest Show July 27, 2017

Steeped in the cutting edge of research around the social lives of networked teens, danah boyd demystifies technology while being wise about the changes it’s making to life and relationship. She has intriguing advice on the technologically-fueled generation gaps of our age — that our children’s immersion in social media may offer a kind of respite from their over-structured, overscheduled analog lives. And that cyber-bullying is an online reflection of the offline world, and blaming technology is missing the point.

Episode Archive

July 2017

July 27, 2017

Steeped in the cutting edge of research around the social lives of networked teens, danah boyd demystifies technology while being wise about the changes it’s making to life and relationship. She has intriguing advice on the technologically-fueled generation gaps of our age — that our children’s immersion in social media may offer a kind of respite from their over-structured, overscheduled analog lives. And that cyber-bullying is an online reflection of the offline world, and blaming technology is missing the point.

July 20, 2017

A French-born Tibetan Buddhist monk and a central figure in the Dalai Lama’s dialogue with scientists, Matthieu Ricard was dubbed “The Happiest Man in the World” after his brain was imaged. But he resists this label. In his writing and in his life, he explores happiness not as pleasurable feeling but as a way of being that gives you the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life and that encompasses many emotional states, including sadness. We take in Matthieu Ricard’s practical teachings for cultivating inner strength, joy, and direction.

July 13, 2017

Forms of religious devotion are shifting just like every institution right now. But there’s a new world of creativity towards crafting spiritual life while exploring the depths of tradition. Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is a fun and forceful embodiment of this evolution. Born into an eminent and ancient rabbinical lineage, as a young adult he moved away from religion towards storytelling, theater, and drag. Today he leads a pop-up synagogue in New York City that takes as its tagline, “everybody-friendly, artist-driven, God-optional.” It’s not merely about spiritual community but about recovering the sacred and reinventing the very meaning of “we.”

July 6, 2017

We explore a topic our listeners have called out as a passionate force and a connector across all kinds of boundaries in American culture: running. Not just as exercise, or as a merely physical pursuit, but running as a source of bonding between parents and children and friends; running as an interplay between competition and contemplation; running and body image and survival and healing.

June 2017

June 29, 2017

In life, in families, we shine a light on the past to live more abundantly now. In this conversation at the Citizen University annual conference, historian Annette Gordon-Reed and painter Titus Kaphar lead us in an exploration of that as a public adventure. She is the historian who introduced the world to Sally Hemings and the children she had with Thomas Jefferson, and so realigned a primary chapter of the American story with the deeper, more complicated truth. He collapses timelines on canvas, and created iconic images after Ferguson. Both are reckoning with history in order to repair the present.

June 22, 2017

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.”

June 15, 2017

A philosopher’s questioning and a scientist’s eye shape Enrique Martínez Celaya’s original approach to art and to life. A world-renowned painter who trained as a physicist, he’s fascinated by the deeper order that “whispers” beneath the surface of things. Works of art that endure, he says, possess their own form of consciousness. And a quiet life of purpose is a particular form of prophecy.

June 8, 2017

Humor lifts us up but it also underscores what’s already great; it connects us with others and also brings us home to ourselves. And like everything meaningful, it’s complex and nuanced — it can be fortifying or damaging, depending on how we wield it. But as a tool for survival, humor is elemental. We explore this idea with a rabbi who started out in drag, comedians, an NPR host, writers of sci-fi/fantasy, social commentary, and the TV show Veep.

June 1, 2017

A thrilling, mind-bending view of the cosmos and of the human adventure of modern science. In a conversation ranging from free will to the multiverse to the meaning of the Higgs boson particle, physicist Brian Greene suggests the deepest scientific realities are hidden from human senses and often defy our best intuition.

May 2017

May 25, 2017

Black Lives Matter co-founder and artist Patrisse Cullors presents a luminous vision of the spiritual core of Black Lives Matter and a resilient world in the making. She joins Dr. Robert Ross, a physician and philanthropist on the cutting edge of learning how trauma can be healed in bodies and communities. A cross-generational reflection on evolving social change.

May 18, 2017

Along with George Orwell, the 20th-century political theorist Hannah Arendt is a new bestseller. She famously coined the phrase “the banality of evil” and wrote towering works like The Origins of Totalitarianism. She was concerned with the human essence of events that we analyze as historical and political. Totalitarianism she described as “organized loneliness,” and loneliness as the “common ground for terror.” The historian, she said, always knows how vulnerable facts are. And thinking is not something for elites; it is the human power to keep possibility alive.

May 11, 2017

Glenn Beck is a complicated person in American life, and he is acknowledging his role in the damaged state we’re in. To create the world we want our children to inhabit, we all need to be ready to let others surprise us, to offer forgiveness, and to ask hard questions of our own part in this moment. This doesn’t happen often in politics, but it is essential in life, and it must be part of common life, too. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, Krista draws out Glenn Beck in this spirit.

May 4, 2017

The moral life, Marie Howe says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do. She became known for her poetry collection What the Living Do, about her brother’s death at 28 from AIDS. Now she has a new book, Magdalene. Poetry is her exuberant and open-hearted way into the words and the silences we live by. She works and plays with a Catholic upbringing, the universal drama of family, the ordinary rituals that sustain us — and how language, again and again, has a power to save us.

April 2017

April 24, 2017

Sheryl Sandberg is synonymous with Facebook and Silicon Valley success, and she’s the voice of Lean In. She joins us, frank and vulnerable, together with the psychologist Adam Grant. His friendship — and his research on resilience — helped her survive the shocking death of her husband while on vacation. They share what they’ve learned about planting deep resilience in ourselves and our children, and even reclaiming joy. There is so much learning here on facing the unimaginable when it arrives in our lives and being more practically caring towards the losses woven into lives all around us.

April 20, 2017

As an anthropologist on the frontier of seeing inside our brains, Helen Fisher explores the thrilling and sometimes treacherous realms of love and sex. In the research she does for Match.com and her TED talks that have been viewed by millions of people, she wields science as an entertaining, if sobering, lens on what feel like the most meaningful encounters of our lives. And in this deeply personal conversation, she shows how it is possible to take on this knowledge as a form of wisdom and power.

April 13, 2017

Men of all ages say Richard Rohr has given them a new way into spiritual depth and religious thought — through his writing and retreats. This conversation with the Franciscan spiritual teacher delves into the expansive scope of his ideas: male formation and what he calls “father hunger”; why contemplation is as magnetic to people now, including millennials, as it’s ever been; and how to set about taking the first half of life — the drive to “successful survival” — all the way to meaning.

April 6, 2017

It’s hard to imagine honest, revelatory, even enjoyable conversation between people on distant points of American life right now. But in this public conversation at the Citizen University annual conference, Matt Kibbe and Heather McGhee show us how. He’s a libertarian who helped activate the Tea Party. She’s a millennial progressive leader. They are bridge people for this moment — holding passion and conviction together with an enthusiasm for engaging difference, and carrying questions as vigorously as they carry answers.

March 2017

March 30, 2017

A single voice of integrity and searching can be a window into a whole world. Layli Long Soldier is a writer, a mother, a citizen of the U.S. and of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Her book of poetry, WHEREAS, is an innovative response to the congressional resolution of “Apology to Native Peoples,” which was tucked inside the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. She offers entry points for us all — to events that are not merely about the past, and to the freedom real apologies might bring.

March 23, 2017

For as far back as Joy Ladin can remember, her body didn’t match her soul. Gender defines us from the moment we’re born. But how is that related to the lifelong work of being at home in ourselves? We explore this question through Joy Ladin’s story of transition from male to female — in an Orthodox Jewish world.

March 16, 2017

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.

March 9, 2017

Human memory is a sensory experience, says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he’s learning about how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. What he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events — which, after all, make up the drama of culture, of news, and of life.

March 2, 2017

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, and extraordinary healer in our world of fracture. He leads the Corrymeela community of Northern Ireland, a place that has offered refuge since the violent division that defined that country until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. And Pádraig and Corrymeela extend a quiet, generative, and joyful force far beyond their northern coast to people around the world. “Over cups of tea, and over the experience of bringing people together,” Pádraig says, it becomes possible “to talk with each other and be in the same room with the people we talk about.”

February 2017

February 23, 2017

Marilyn Nelson has taught poetry and contemplative practice to college students and to West Point cadets. She gives winsome voice to forgotten people from history, shining a light on the complicated ancestry that can help us in what she calls “communal pondering.” To sit with Marilyn Nelson is to gain a newly spacious perspective on what that might mean — and on why, in this troubled moment, Americans young and old are turning to poetry with urgency.

February 16, 2017

A passionate translator of the beauty and relevance of scientific questions, Margaret Wertheim is also wise about the limits of science to tell the whole story of the human self. Her Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles reveals evocative, visceral connections between high mathematics, crochet and other folk arts, and our love of for the planet.

February 9, 2017

What if the first question we asked on a date were, “How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this”? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton’s essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” was, amazingly, the most-read article in The New York Times in the news-drenched year of 2016. As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. How might our relationships be different — and better — if we understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after?

February 2, 2017

White Evangelical Christians helped secure the election of President Trump. Many said that his views on abortion were decisive, overriding concerns they had on other matters. But to be Evangelical is not one thing, even on abortion. This conversation about Christianity and politics with three generations of Evangelical leaders — Shane Claiborne, Greg Boyd, and the late Chuck Colson — feels more relevant in the wake of the 2016 election than it did when we first recorded it. We offer this searching dialogue, which is alive anew, to a changed political landscape.

January 2017

January 26, 2017

We take in the extraordinary wisdom of Congressman John Lewis on what happened in Selma on Bloody Sunday and beyond — and how it might inform common life today. A rare look inside the civil rights leaders’ spiritual confrontation with themselves — and their intricate art of “love in action.”

January 19, 2017

Could we learn to talk about whiteness? The writer Eula Biss has been thinking and writing about being white and raising white children in a multi-racial world for a long time. She helpfully opens up words and ideas like “complacence,” “guilt,” and something related to privilege called “opportunity hoarding.” To be in this uncomfortable conversation is to realize how these words alone, taken seriously, can shake us up in necessary ways — but also how the limits of words make these conversations at once more messy and more urgent.

January 12, 2017

A wildly popular blogger, tech entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley influencer, Anil Dash has been an early activist for moral imagination in the digital sphere — an aspiration which has now become an urgent task. We explore the unprecedented power, the learning curves ahead, and how we can all contribute to the humane potential of technology in this moment.

January 5, 2017

She has called Brain Pickings, her invention and labor of love, a “human-powered discovery engine for interestingness.” What Maria Popova really delivers, to hundreds of thousands of people each day, is wisdom of the old-fashioned sort, presented in new-fashioned digital ways. She cross-pollinates — between philosophy and design, physics and poetry, the intellectual and the experiential. We explore her gleanings on what it means to lead a good life — intellectually, creatively, and spiritually.