Becoming Wiser

krista-tippettI have been listening to Krista Tippett on her radio program, Speaking of Faith, since back in 2003. Though it changed its name in 2010 to On Being, the program has the same focus and appeal.

Like many programs, movies and books that I admire, it often features people who I have never heard of, and who I would probably never have encountered – but I trust her choices enough to listen, and I am usually rewarded by insights from her and the guest.

She has written several books, but her new one is Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.


“I’m a person who listens for a living. I listen for wisdom, and beauty, and for voices not shouting to be heard. This book chronicles some of what I’ve learned in what has become a conversation across time and generations, across disciplines and denominations,” says Krista.

In the early days, her show did have more of an outright focus on religions. But it has always had an interest in how scientists relate to religion, faith and being. Those programs have been amongst my favorites.

For example, my own fascination with Albert Einstein seems to be shared by Tippett who has done multiple programs about Einstein. She has also written Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit. Einstein is a good example of that strange Venn diagram that many of us have where religion, God, faith, belief, and spirituality overlap. Albert Einstein did not believe in a personal God. One of the many Einstein quotes you find online is “God does not play dice with the universe.” That seems to be a clear statement of belief, but it was about quantum physics, not the God of religion. But Albert certainly spent a significant amount of his life doing thought experiments about the relationship between science and religion. How could he not wonder? Any thinking person must wonder.

I believe all of us have the same interest as Einstein (although he may have taken it further than most of us) in trying to discover the order deeply hidden behind everything. Tippett notes Einstein’s self-described “cosmic religious sense” is very compatible with twenty-first-century sensibilities.

But On Being and her new book includes the ideas of theologians from many faiths, but also poets, activists and others.

I call this post “Becoming Wiser” (as opposed to Tippett’s book title Becoming Wise)  because I know I am wiser for having listened to Krista’s programs and read her books, but they also remind me how much further I need to go to be Wise.

This is not a book review but a preview because I haven’t read this book yet, but I am confident that it will continue to help equip me “to meet the world where it really is, and then to make it better.”


other books

Further Reading:
Amazon is getting much better with its recommendations. When I pre-ordered Becoming Wise, Amazon suggested a group of books that do belong on the same shelf. There were  four that I have already read, and the others are all books I would like to read. It included the obvious choices of her other books: Einstein’s God  and her earlier Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters–and How to Talk About It.  It also suggested Rising Strong by Brené Brown,  Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver,  The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages by Andrew Blauner,  Gratitude by Oliver Sacks  A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals, and Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty. there are others I would add to that list – for example, guests from her programs, such as Parker J. Palmer and Karen Armstrong.

On Being

The Helix Nebula, also known as The Eye of God

Since childhood, I have been a big radio fan. Nowadays, a lot of my radio listening is done via podcasts that I listen to on an iPod or via Stitcher online “radio” – but it’s still radio.  I started listening to Speaking of Faith in 2003 when it became a weekly radio program. I think some people may have been put off by the word “faith” thinking it’s a show about just religion. It’s not. Though many religious practices are topics, so is finding the spirituality and meaning in many other parts of our lives.

The program changed its name from “Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett” to “Krista Tippett on Being.”  The programs are still much the same but the producers said at the time they changed the name that they could be in “a more spacious container for what the program has become.”

“Speaking of Faith” may have suggested religion to people, but the program always described itself as “religion, meaning, ethics and ideas” and the latter three probably made up more of the programs.

On Being might also be a name that points to a change in the way Americans think about faith – less connected with a religion and more connected to meaning, ethics and ideas. It is a more “hospitable” word than “faith” for non-Christian and non-religious listeners.

I also follow their blog.

The show’s producer and host is Krista Tippett.  She has an interesting bio. She grew up in Oklahoma, the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher; studied history at Brown University and went to West Germany in 1983 on a Fulbright Scholarship; stayed in divided Berlin as a correspondent and became a special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany. She left in 1988. Krista got an M.Div. from Yale in 1994.

In 2007, Krista published her first book, Speaking of Faith about the issues that made up the programs. And she sees the show as one that can “draw out the intellectual and spiritual content of religion that should nourish our common life, but that is often obscured precisely when religion enters the news.”

Her book Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit is actually the one I read first because of my fascination with Einstein and the ways science connects and rejects religion.

You can listen to many of the programs online at and subscribe (free) to the podcasts of the show with iTunes or other services.

Their website lists show topics from physics (“Uncovering the Codes for Reality”; “Mathematics, Purpose, and Truth”) to parenting (“What we Nurture”); from civil society (“The Inward Work of Democracy”; “Words that Shimmer”); to aging (“The Far Shore of Aging”; “Contemplating Mortality”); from yoga (“The Body’s Grace”; “Meditation in Action”) to neuroscience (“Creativity and the Everyday Brain”; “Investigating Healthy Minds”), from urban renewal (“Becoming Detroit”; “Evolving a City”) to farm to table food (“Driven by Flavor”); from “The Last Quiet Places” to ocean exploration; and from Desmond Tutu to Rosanne Cash and from the Dalai Lama to Rumi.


About the image: This NASA Hubble Space Telescope composite of photos from the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona shows a Helix Nebula. The Helix Nebula (also known as NGC 7293) is a planetary nebula about 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. It is one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth and was discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding before 1824. Since, 2003, it has appeared in many places on the Net and is often referred to as the “Eye of God.”