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In a recent Pew poll, 16 percent of Americans identified themselves as “unaffiliated” — atheist, agnostic, or most prominently “nothing in particular.” Greg Epstein, a Humanist chaplain at Harvard, described himself that way until he discovered the tradition of humanism. He is passionate about articulating an atheist identity that is not driven by a stance against religion but by positive ethical beliefs and actions.

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.

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.

The second program in our series on guiding figures in what some are calling the “post Religious Right era.” This program’s guests are conservative Evangelicals who are increasingly being watched by a new generation of Christian and secular leaders. They want to move beyond the partisan and cultural divides of recent years to fight poverty, AIDS, and homelessness.

The first in a two-part series on influential leaders who are reshaping Evangelical Christianity from within progressive and conservative circles. Jim Wallis founded “Sojourners” and now advises presidential candidates and world leaders in what he calls the “post-Religious Right” era. He is determined to put poverty at the top of America’s “moral values” agenda.

The sales are starting, the stores are open late, and many of us are gearing up to spend more money than we actually have in a holiday season with deep roots in religion. We explore the turmoil many of us experience with money in our day-to-day lives — and how we might work towards a moral and practical balance for ourselves and the next generation.

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.

In 1965, a young Harvard professor became the best-selling voice of secularism in America with his book The Secular City. He sees the old thinking in the “new atheism” of figures like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The either/or debates between religion and atheism, he says, obscure the truly interesting interplay between faith and other forms of knowledge that is unfolding today.

Author Anchee Min has won acclaim for her memoir of growing up in China under Mao Zedong. She’s also written several works of fiction in which she explores the human hunger to survive against extreme social brutality. In this conversation, Anchee Min tells us what she learned about the human spirit in the forced labor camp in which she spent her teenage years, and how she’s found healing in America.

Editor’s note: In February 2020, L’Arche International released the results of an independent investigation that it commissioned into Jean Vanier, who died in 2019. The investigation determined that the L’Arche founder, Catholic philosopher and humanitarian engaged in manipulative sexual relationships with at least six women from 1970-2005. None of the women had disabilities. The report also concluded that Vanier was complicit in covering up similar sexual abuse by his mentor, the late Father Thomas Philippe. In this response, Krista reflects on the moral questions and meaning raised by these discoveries. 

Forty years ago in France, philosopher Jean Vanier founded an international movement, L’Arche. The L’Arche community in Clinton, Iowa is part of this movement — people of faith living and worshipping alongside developmentally handicapped adults. There are now over 120 L’Arche communities in 18 countries. The community in Clinton is one of the oldest and most rural of the 14 American communities. In this “radio pilgrimage,” we take listeners into a radically different faith community that confronts our assumptions about service and diversity, and the worth of individuals.

American ideals and rituals of marriage, family, and divorce are infused with biblical messages. But what does the Bible really say, and how has it been taught across the centuries as the institution of marriage has changed dramatically and often? A rabbi and Christian theologian help us explore the nuances of Jewish and Christian teachings and reveal the striking practicality of Jewish tradition across the ages and the surprising ambiguities of the New Testament.