Over these past five years, I’ve been utterly charmed with the effort that’s put into producing a weekly national program. We’ve been making great commitments to reveal this part of the process through releasing Krista’s unedited interviews, videotaping editorial sessions and face-to-face interviews, and blogging about the correspondence we have among our staff and the ideas that inform our roles.
But, commitments require Krista (and sometimes staff) to speak at public and private events — ranging from speaking engagements at our funders’ board meetings to lectures at local public radio stations’ fundraising events. These forums can be quite inspirational and enlightening, revealing another aspect of Speaking of Faith's mission to reach larger and more varied audiences.
My goal is to share more of this side of Krista and Speaking of Faith with you. One way to do this: put our managing producer’s iPhone to work. A savvy news person, to be sure, Kate’s also a poet and quite a wit — an exquisite match for Twitter (follow us @SOFtweets). She acceded to my request and so began the experimentation while Krista, at the invite of WLRN, spoke at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Miami:
I’ll be retweeting our managing producer’s Twitter fiesta from Krista’s event at Trinity in Miami tonight. Doing some catch-up now. 7:19 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos In the Green Room eating Sun Chips. That is not a product placement. http://twitpic.com/3uw9v 7:20 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos Miamians v. friendly plus equip seems to work. Winning combination! Plus warm here. 7:20 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos Am told Miami audinces come late. Don’t fret. I’ll manage my little punctual problem. Cuticles. Joke. 7:20 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT our senior producer @mitchhanley @katemoos Glad to hear the equipment is working. How’s the turnout? 7:22 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos @mitchhanley Little hard to say but 400? 7:22 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos Krista sites Parker Palmer. To let the soul speak one must create quiet, trustworthy spaces. 7:23 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos @mitchhanley Sorry that was a typo. 300? 7:23 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos I am a drop in the ocean. But I am also the ocean. Larry Ward 7:24 PM Apr 23rd from web
@katemoos is on a roll. She was hesitant to commit to too much for Krista’s event tonight. Parker Palmer, Larry Ward, and Sun Chips Kate? :) 7:26 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT-1 @katemoos questioner here asks Krista to account for that Scottish singer. 7:28 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT-2 @katemoos KT’s theory on that is short. But she applauds intimacy of radio. Sound. 7:28 PM Apr 23rd from web
RT @katemoos Iphone battery death! GBye dear Tweets! From Miami, Katy Lou signing off. 7:31 PM Apr 23rd from web
Oh no! @katemoos is down. Any stealth twitter junkies in the Cathedral?! 7:32 PM Apr 23rd from web
@lance_agena Oh, back-ups, back-ups, back-ups. We always prepare for Krista but how about behind the curtains. I will or I’ll retweet if so. 7:38 PM Apr 23rd from web in reply to lance_agena
One final RT from our dear @katemoos: BTW anyone calls me KatyLou and I will find you and make you pay. Finito!
7:39 PM Apr 23rd from web
Well, we’ll be doing more of our regular twitter conversation. Next week Krista speaks in Cleveland, using her new format. 7:42 PM Apr 23rd from web
We’ll be sure to have @katemoos working the scene and we’ll give you a heads-up. 7:53 PM Apr 23rd from web
And, if you haven’t heard, Krista has a live public event on May 20th with Obama’s head of faith-based initiatives, Joshua DuBois! 7:56 PM Apr 23rd from web
Kate will be tweeting from Cleveland this Thursday and we’ll be doing more of these in the coming weeks — including Krista’s live conversation with Joshua DuBois, Obama’s head of faith-based initiatives — so please give us your feedback. We’re still finding our voice(s) and style for this format.
Connecting Chicken Coops and Benedictine Prayer Illustrations
Earlier this week, I posted a quote on our Facebook page from Eulalia Cobb. She’s a listener from West Pawlet, Vermont who wrote a lovely reflection in response to last week’s show on her practice of mindfulness while spring cleaning a chicken coop:
"In years past, I rushed impatiently through this coop cleaning. After all, there was a garden to be planted…"
What I find so delightful about posting wonderful words like Eulalia’s outside the bounds of speakingoffaith.org is the broad knowledge base and interesting insights we may not have learned otherwise. Many times this wisdom serves as a fresh starting point for fans who may not have happened across these quirky, endearing stories. And that’s why I absolutely dug Denise Klitsie's comment in response:
"I am working on illustrations for a book on the hours of prayer—the Benedictines started this idea of recognizing transitions throughout the day that pressed up against one in work and life and began to name the hours, none, sext, vespers etc.—this essay on cleaning the chicken coup is inspiring me for imagery because imaging these "hours" is every challenging so I thought this picture of repetitious mundane yucky work might fit the hour of sext where the noonday devil is present tempting one to give up, throw in the towel, give up the fight because it is just too hard or too messy. Thanks SOF."
These are the types of connections that sustain my work. I’ll keep trying to do more. I’d love your advice on better or more inventive ways of making these connections possible.
I’ve been skeptical about celebrity pet charity projects and rock stars like Bono who have endorsed the RED campaign — encouraging people to shop and buy stuff in order to aid impoverished Africans. It just rings hollow to me and somewhat paradoxical, even though I recognize the good intentions behind it.
And then I read these lines from his op-ed this weekend:
It’s Lent I’ve always had issues with. I gave it up … self-denial is where I come a cropper. My idea of discipline is simple — hard work — but of course that’s another indulgence.
Then comes the dying and the living that is Easter. —Bono, lead singer of U2
Whatever brash generalizations or dismissive attitude I may have held, that changed after reading the Irishman’s contemplative words. Even though the rest of his essay is much more poetic and eloquent, it’s that second sentence above that captured me. He recognizes the falsehood of working harder. That staying at work is often an escape, a source of leisure rather than fulfilling one’s obligations and roles of responsibility at home — the mundane tasks of being present while one’s children ask for your time or hiding behind a gadget rather than engaging your spouse. Here, the man is revealing something of himself, his ordinary self. He is speaking to something greater than his own ego — and mine.
Nearly two years ago, I enjoyed Bono’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Bush. Like many others, I admired the way he was reaching out; yet, his words felt removed to me — a diplomatic performance to unite disparate parties.
But, his reflection in this essay starts from his personal core. They reveal a man who is a seeker of some greater truths, both personal and universal, that have a grounding in fallibility and transcendence. And that I respect greatly.
I can only hope that Krista could interview him for SOF. Perhaps at Trinity Wall Street? Wouldn’t that be an incredible event to witness? The likelihood is minimal, but it would be a dazzling adventure. Can anybody make it happen?!
In our interview for next week’s show, the very thoughtful scientist/author Jon Kabat-Zinn has intriguing and provocative things to say about the pressures and possibilities of aligning our “Stone Age minds” with 21st-century digital realities. But he also says: “This is far too serious to take too seriously.”
The most godly people I know have a sense of humor even about the most important things, and I’m convinced God does too. And that is my far too serious justification for posting two very funny Facebook takes on Passover and Easter, the holiest of holidays being observed simultaneously this week. Be blessed — and enjoy.
Last week when I was going through this week’s program with Vigen Guroian, I was listening to some of the choral music for the first time in two years. Later that evening, I put on an old Cocteau Twins CD, Heaven or Las Vegas (which must have been on my mind since SOF had recently been picked up by KNPR in Las Vegas!), and I was struck how some of the lush harmonies were seemingly reminiscent of some of the Orthodox Russian repertoire, or at least Kitka’s Bulgarian folk styling of Nikolai Kedrov’s Otche Nash — “The Lord’s Prayer” in Russian.
"The Lord’s Prayer" performed by Kitka and composed by Nikolai Kedrov
The harmonies in both of these pieces are saturated and lush, and I could swim in them for hours.
For all of you CT fans, I know there may be better examples, so what tune, if any, would you have suggested? “Iceblink Luck” always reminds me of spring and little daffodils popping up everywhere, and I am really ready for that up here in Minneapolis. Also, another spring/flower reference, kitka means “blossom” in Bulgarian. So, here is the pairing, back to back.
Rushing to take my children to school yesterday, I witnessed a gorgeous scene of a group of several dozen people — young and old — congregating in front of the entrance to the Sabes JCC in St. Louis Park. The morning light was in full bloom, still a nip of cold in the air, and traffic unusually quiet. I paused and watched and then remembered this piece in the Times about Birchat HaChammah:
According to the celestial calculations of a Talmudic sage named Shmuel, at the outset of spring every 28 years, the sun moves into the same place in the sky at the same time and on the same day of the week as it did when God made it. This charged moment provides the occasion for reciting a one-line blessing of God, “who makes the work of creation.”
Reflecting on the awe and physical majesty of this planet every 28 years seems to be an act I should replicate every day. I’m glad that small group reminded me to stop and look at the sun.
SOF producers had already started reaching out to past guests of the show to engage them in conversation about the moral, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of the economic downturn. We wanted to get listeners into the mix of the conversation.
I spent a few quiet winter days in my cubicle with a highlighter pen, reading the 100+ responses we had received. People wrote in with all kinds of insights and reflections — from the deeply personal and specific to more theoretical interpretations of the economic collapse, its causes, and its implications.
When I read this essay by Khalid Kamau in New York City, I knew immediately that I wanted to talk to him. I wrote on the page “I like this one a lot” and gave it a little star.
You see the theme of community keeps coming up in the conversations we’ve been having with past guests of the show and others through our continuing Repossessing Virtue series. And while living more deeply and deliberately in community sounds good at first pass, it can be complicated and fraught. My own recent-ish experiences living with roommates is a reminder of this.
Khalid nails this complexity in a very personal story he wrote about baking a cake for his parents as a kid. I’m not going to give away the guts of the story; you should hear him tell it. But suffice to say that Khalid’s received some confusing messages growing up about what it means to ask a neighbor for help. To this day, he says he won’t knock on a neighbor’s door to borrow eggs or milk.
I’m excited to share Khalid’s story with you as well as the conversation we had about how he’s experiencing the economic downturn. Unlike others we’ve spoken to, Khalid was laid off from his job a few months ago. When he was working, Khalid says he was always busy, a frenetic New Yorker (I used to be one of those too). Now he’s using this new-found expanse of time to volunteer, pray, reflect, and simply do nothing.
This is the one of the first in a series of listener conversations we’ll be featuring online and in an upcoming radio program slated for broadcast in May. We’re approaching this as a creative experiment so please let us know what you think.
A few days ago, I was an emotional mess. I was touched at by the compassion and heart-wrenching stories I was reading. I’m the better for reading them. These are the shared stories about Alzheimer’s experiences from our radio and online audiences. But, then I’m faced with the question: What do we do with this repository of knowledge, with all these magnificent life stories?
Our first step was to create an interface that provides more context — in this case a dynamic map showcasing these acts of remembering. For this “mash-up” we used Google maps, Flickr images, an internally developed application (thanks Dickens!), and our Web site. We gain a greater sense of these authors and their relation to others geographically, including pull quotes and images and age and religious affiliation. And then you can delve deeper by reading each individual essay and viewing larger images.
But the danger is that one can feel lost, even overwhelmed by all these stories, and not no where to begin. We moderate and copy edit most of comments, reflections, and stories online; we like to maintain a safe space where people can feel a sense of trust and share things they wouldn’t in other online forums. The other advantage is that we read everything that comes our way. So, I had to ask myself, “Why not use that curatorial role to highlight particularly moving stories?” So I started tweeting and posting quotes to our Facebook page. For those of you who only read SOF Observed, I thought I’d share them with you:
Madeline Miller:"I hold that advice dear and try to have lots of picnics or just live in a picnic-like way…"
Diana Carson: On a moment between her grandfather — who had Alzheimer’s — and her grandmother: "I don’t know who you are, but … I have loved you for a long time."
Deborah Jaeger: On working with her father who has Alzheimer’s, "The most difficult aspect of taking care of my father is that we are invisible to others."
Lea Mathieu: Reflecting on the change in her mother who died of Alzheimer’s, "I do not hope for grace and forgiveness in the future — everyone I meet knows I love them now,"
And from this call-out, we found an unexpected voice in Alan Dienstag, who submitted his own suggestions.
A few years earlier, Krista had interviewed two people for a potential show on Alzheimer’s. The interviews went really well, but we wanted our first foray into this topic to speak to something larger, more personal, more universal — and we needed a voice that could create that space.
We take great pride in being open to possibilities and sources that aren’t part of our Rolodex, so to speak. And, we hope to discover more stories that give greater meaning to all these topics we cover over the years. In the meanwhile, we’re ready to include more.