On Being with Krista Tippett
On Being takes up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers — some you know and others you'll love to meet. Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives — updated every Thursday. Hosted by Krista Tippett. Discover more at onbeing.org. On Being Studios is the producer of On Being, Becoming Wise, Creating Our Own Lives, and more to come.
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.
Humor as a tool for survival. That's the theme of our second season of Creating Our Own Lives. Host Lily Percy speaks with 15 different voices on the surprising ways humor shapes them and brings meaning to their lives. Including insights from writers, comedians, political and financial reporters, a sex educator and a rabbi — and starring voices like Margaret Cho, Hari Kondabolu, Terry McMillan, Sam Sanders, and Lindy West.
We need to be ready to let others surprise us, offer forgiveness, and 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. If we’re going to create the world we want our children to inhabit, we’re going to have to find ways to hold more complexity peaceably, and probably uncomfortably, just to soften what is possible between us. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, Krista draws out Glenn Beck in this generosity of spirit.
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.
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.
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.
Men of all ages say Richard Rohr has given them a new way in to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.