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The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has sharpened our culture’s intensifying focus on homosexuality. In a year of political and religious milestones for gays and lesbians, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay man to be elected an Episcopal Bishop. There were 11th-hour allegations of impropriety. But in the end, the laity, clergy, and House of Bishops of the Church confirmed his election.

This week, we set aside the ins and outs of the Robinson controversy. The public furor over this event flows, in part, from our culture’s confusion over what it might mean to morally condone homosexual relationships. And Gene Robinson aside, this issue remains an ongoing source of bitter debate among Anglicans and in most of the mainline churches in this country.

How can people of faith reach radically different conclusions while living in the same tradition? Host Krista Tippett engages two Episcopal bishops on either side of the matter in a thoughtful conversation that aims to clarify our understanding of the religious issues at stake.

Over the last four decades, women’s roles have changed dramatically — at home, in the work force and in religious institutions as well. In America, resistance to this is often couched in religious terms. Where there is a backlash against feminism and its repercussions, it is often embodied in religious practice. Host Krista Tippett speaks with three devoutly religious women who also call themselves feminist.

Christian scripture and tradition have overwhelmingly shaped American attitudes toward sexuality. And in the past year, our national attention has been riveted on sexual scandal within the Catholic Church. In this program, we crack open the difficult subject of Christian tradition and healthy sexuality. What is the positive sexual ethic of the Bible, beyond the identification of sin? What does sexuality have to do with the human spirit and how might this change they way it is discussed in communities of faith?

More than any crisis in modern memory, the War on Terror—including the current U.S. military presence in Iraq—is being debated in religious, usually Christian, terms. We explore the nuances of that debate with a former war correspondent, a political theorist, and a renowned preacher. We ask how and whether Christian principles really make a difference at this moment in our national life—and if not, why not?

Even among deeply religious Americans, there’s no consensus on the proper role of religion in politics. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C., recently invited two veteran politicians to address this issue: former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana. They were asked to speak about how they have reconciled personal religious conviction with serving a pluralistic American constituency.

In this program, we delve into uncomfortable religious and moral questions that the September 2001 terrorist attacks raised—questions of meaning that Americans have only begun to ponder one year later. This hour also features the riveting first-person account of veteran public radio producer Marge Ostroushko, who captures elements of the religious life that grew up at and around Ground Zero and was largely hidden from news reporting. Her coverage, which you won’t hear anywhere else, includes the ash-swirled final service, and an interview with the priest who coordinated the 24-hour team of clergy who blessed every human remain found there since 9/11.

Just-war theory was set in motion in the 5th century as St. Augustine agonized over how to reconcile Christianity’s high ethical ideals with the devastating world realities which were bringing about the fall of Rome. For 1,600 years, theologians, ethicists, diplomats, and political leaders have drawn on this tradition, refined it, and employed its key questions: When is it permissible to wage war? And how might our ethical and religious foundations place limits on the ways we wage war?

In this program, we explore three varied perspectives on how such questions are alive and evolving today, and how they might inform our approach to the conflict in Afghanistan and the peace we would like to achieve beyond it.

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