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On Being with Krista Tippett

Groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning conversation about the big questions of meaning — spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, and the arts. Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. Hosted by Krista Tippett. New conversations every Thursday, with occasional extras.

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John O'Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

No conversation we’ve ever done has been more beloved than this one. This Irish poet, theologian, and philosopher insisted on beauty as a human calling. He had a very Celtic, lifelong fascination with the inner landscape of our lives and with what he called “the invisible world” that is constantly intertwining what we can know and see. This was one of the last interviews he gave before his unexpected death in 2008. But John O’Donohue’s voice and writings continue to bring ancient mystical wisdom to modern confusions and longings.

51mins

31 Aug 2017

Rank #1

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[Unedited] Naomi Shihab Nye with Krista Tippett

It’s pretty intriguing to follow poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s idea that most of us actually “think in poems” whether we know it or not. Rarely, as she points out, do you hear anyone say they feel worse after writing things down. That, she says, can be a tool to survive in hard times like these, to anchor our days - and to get into a conversation and community with all of the selves that live on in each of us at any given moment - “your child self, your older self, your confused self, your self-that-makes-a-lot-of-mistakes.” We also hear her read her beloved poem “Kindness” and tell us the story behind it.Naomi Shihab Nye is the Young People's Poet Laureate through the Poetry Foundation and a professor of creative writing at Texas State University. Her recent books include The Tiny Journalist, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, Cast Away, and Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems. She received the 2019 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle.This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode "Naomi Shihab Nye — “Before You Know Kindness As the Deepest Thing Inside..." Find the transcript for that show at onbeing.org.This show originally aired on July 28, 2016.

1hr 34mins

4 Mar 2021

Rank #2

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How Friendship and Quiet Conversations Transformed a White Nationalist

Derek Black grew up the heir apparent of a prominent white nationalist family. David Duke was his godfather. When Derek was 11, he designed the kids’ page for what is known as the first major internet hate site, created by his father. But after his ideology was outed in college, one of the only Orthodox Jews on campus — Matthew Stevenson — invited Derek to his weekly Shabbat dinners. What happened over the next two years, as the two of them became friends, is a roadmap for navigating some of the hardest territory of our time.

52mins

17 May 2018

Rank #3

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Bessel van der Kolk — How Trauma Lodges in the Body

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk is an innovator in treating the effects of overwhelming experiences. We call this “trauma” when we encounter it in life and news, and we tend to leap to address it by talking. But Bessel van der Kolk knows how some experiences imprint themselves beyond where language can reach. He explores state-of-the-art therapeutic treatments — including body work like yoga and eye movement therapy — and shares what he and others are learning on this edge of humanity about the complexity of memory, our need for others, and how our brains take care of our bodies.Bessel van der Kolk is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s also a professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. His books include Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind, Body, and Society and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. This show originally aired in July 2013.

51mins

26 Dec 2019

Rank #4

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Paulo Coelho — The Alchemy of Pilgrimage

The Brazilian lyricist Paulo Coelho is best known for his book “The Alchemist” — which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 400 weeks. His fable-like stories turn life, love, writing, and reading into pilgrimage. In a rare conversation, we meet the man behind the writings and explore what he’s touched in modern people.

51mins

4 Aug 2016

Rank #5

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Gordon Hempton — Silence and the Presence of Everything

Silence is an endangered species, says Gordon Hempton. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise. The Earth, as he knows it, is a “solar-powered jukebox.” Quiet is a “think tank of the soul.” We take in the world through his ears.

51mins

29 Dec 2016

Rank #6

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Craig Minowa & Cloud Cult — Music As Medicine

Music is a source of solace and nourishment in the best of times and the hardest of times. It has been for so many of us in this year of pandemic, and Cloud Cult is on every playlist Krista makes. Craig Minowa started the band in 1995. Its trajectory was cathartically changed the day he and his wife Connie woke up to find that their firstborn two-year-old son, Kaidin, had mysteriously died in his sleep. The music that has emerged ever since has spanned the human experience from the rawest grief to the fiercest hope. We welcomed Craig and the whole Cloud Cult ensemble to On Being Studios in Minneapolis, for conversation and music, in 2016.Craig Minowa is the founder, singer, and songwriter of Cloud Cult. Their albums include Light Chasers, the acoustic live album Unplug, and The Seeker. Craig holds a degree in environmental science from the University of Minnesota, and is the founder of the environmental nonprofit and record label Earthology.Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.This show originally aired in April 2016.

50mins

17 Sep 2020

Rank #7

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David Brooks and E.J. Dionne — Sinfulness, Hopefulness, and the Possibility of Politics

This is a strange, tumultuous political moment. With columnists David Brooks and E.J. Dionne, we step back from the immediate political gamesmanship. We take public theology as a lens on the challenge and promise we will all be living as citizens, whoever our next president might be. This public conversation was convened by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Graham Chapel at Washington University in St. Louis, the day before the second presidential debate on that campus.

51mins

20 Oct 2016

Rank #8

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Ellen Langer — Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness

Her unconventional studies have long suggested what neuroscience is now revealing: Our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something play rather than work — or exercise rather than labor — can mean the difference between delight and drudgery, fatigue or weight loss. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery, but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are in control. Ellen Langer says mindfulness is achievable without meditation or yoga. She defines it as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”

52mins

2 Nov 2017

Rank #9

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Karen Murphy — The Long View, II: On Who We Can Become

We are called to consider who we want to be as a people and what kind of world we will build with and for our children. Karen Murphy has been gathering wisdom for this juncture, as she’s worked around the world with teachers and educators in societies moving toward repair after histories of violence. We learn from her about how to prepare ourselves in the U.S. for the civic healing that we are called to ahead.Karen Murphy creates curricula, trains teachers, and leads global gatherings for Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that partners with over 100,000 teachers and their classrooms around the world. A hallmark of this work is trusting the moral and civic intelligence of middle and high school students. Karen has worked from Rwanda to Colombia, from South Africa to Northern Ireland, and she grew up in Illinois.Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org

50mins

5 Nov 2020

Rank #10

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David Isay — Listening as an Act of Love

“The soul is contained in the human voice,” says David Isay, founder of StoryCorps. He sees the StoryCorps booth — a setting where two people ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask each other — as a sacred space. He shares his wisdom about listening as an act of love, and how eliciting and capturing our stories is a way of insisting that every life matters.

51mins

12 May 2016

Rank #11

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David Treuer — Language Carries More Than Words

Writer David Treuer’s work tells a story that is richer and more multi-dimensional than the American history most of us learned in school. Treuer grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. At the time of our conversation with him in 2008, he was part of an ongoing project to document the grammar and usage of the Ojibwe language. He says the recovery of tribal languages and names is part of a fuller recovery of our national story — and the human story. And it holds unexpected observations altogether about language and meaning that most of us express unselfconsciously in our mother tongues.David Treuer divides his time between the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. His books include “Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual,” “The Translation of Dr. Apelle,” and most recently, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present.” His writing has also appeared in the “New York Times,” the “Los Angeles Times,” and “The Washington Post.”Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. This interview originally aired in June 2008.

51mins

10 Oct 2019

Rank #12

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James Martin — Finding God in All Things

Before Pope Francis, James Martin was perhaps the best-loved Jesuit in American life. He’s followed the calling of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, to “find God in all things” — and in 21st-century forms. To delve into Fr. Martin’s way of being in the world is to discover the “spiritual exercises” St. Ignatius designed to be accessible to everyone more than six centuries ago. Also his thoughts on the “un-taming” Christmas.

51mins

1 Dec 2016

Rank #13

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Louis Newman — The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.

51mins

17 Sep 2015

Rank #14

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[Unedited] Jacqueline Novogratz with Krista Tippett 2020

Moral reckonings are being driven to the surface of our life together: What are politics for? What is an economy for? Jacqueline Novogratz says the simplistic ways we take up such questions — if we take them up at all — is inadequate. Novogratz is an innovator in creative, human-centered capitalism. She has described her recent book, Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, as a love letter to the next generation.Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen, a venture capital fund that serves some of the poorest people in the world. She’s also the author of a memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.

1hr 32mins

21 May 2020

Rank #15

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Nicholas Christakis — How We’re Wired for Goodness

Sociologist Nicholas Christakis says we come to social goodness as naturally as we come to our bloodier inclinations. Research out of his Human Nature Lab at Yale shows that capacities like friendship, love, teaching, and cooperation exert a tremendous and practical force on us — and yet we don’t think of those behaviors as grit for what’s helped humans evolve as a species. Christakis’ science — and the passion with which he shares and lives what he learns — put goodness in refreshing evolutionary perspective.Nicholas Christakis is Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, where he’s also the director of the Human Nature Lab and co-director of the Institute for Network Science. He’s the author of Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do. His most recent book is Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society.Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

51mins

5 Mar 2020

Rank #16

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Thich Nhat Hanh, Cheri Maples, and Larry Ward — Being Peace in a World of Trauma

The Vietnamese Zen master, whom Martin Luther King nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is a voice of power and wisdom in this time of tumult in the world. We visited Thich Nhat Hanh at a retreat attended by police officers and other members of the criminal justice system; they offer stark gentle wisdom for finding buoyancy and “being peace” in a world of conflict, anger, and violence.

51mins

14 Jul 2016

Rank #17

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Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant — Resilience After Unimaginable Loss

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.

51mins

24 Apr 2017

Rank #18

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Alain de Botton — A School of Life for Atheists

Alain de Botton is a philosopher who likes the best of religion, but doesn’t believe in God. He says that the most boring question you can ask of any religion is whether it is true. But how to live, how to die, what is good, and what is bad — these are questions religion has sophisticated ways of addressing. So he’s created The School of Life — where people young and old explore ritual, community, beauty, and wisdom. He explains why these ideas shouldn’t be reserved just for believers.

51mins

29 Sep 2016

Rank #19