Change Is Stressful

by Krista Tippett, host

Recently back from a vacation I needed — and with fresh eyes on the intensity of the present moment — I think the most surprising thing about our name change process is how big and dramatic it feels. Names matter, and as clear as I am that our content won’t change moving forward, we are in fact changing our identity. I feel that personally — a little off balance, a little shaky, a little scared. I’m also feeling the upside of those same elemental human emotions: recharged, excited, expectant. But I have had the benefit of nearly two years of thinking about making this change, brainstorming it, seeking counsel about it, and finally reaching a decision.

I realize that most of our listeners have experienced this as sudden, without all that time and deliberation. This is one of those life lessons: the stressfulness of change, good or bad, is something that we have to re-experience and re-learn again and again and again. I want to thank everyone who has shared their thoughts and reactions across the board. We are listening, reading, and absorbing all of this into the ethos and attitude with which we will inhabit our new name. I often refer to SOF/Being as an adventure as much as a program. This process brings home anew — in a way we could not have imagined when we started — that this is very much a collective adventure.

One other dimension of this experience has struck me with surprising force: a sadness about relinquishing the word “faith.” And I want to acknowledge that there is grief in this for me too, mixed in with all those other emotions I named above. I’ve thought a lot about the limits of words in the years before and since Speaking of Faith began. I thought we could fill that phrase with connotations beyond those that had been imparted by the culture wars, and we have for many. But there are words we have to let go of, at least for a time, when they cease to carry the meaning they have for us in the ears of others. The positive challenge of letting go of the word, however treasured, is that we are then liberated and compelled to find fresh, varied, vivid language to say what we mean — not relying on shorthand that isn’t shorthand after all — and to show rather than tell.

Most of the grief we’re hearing is from Christian listeners, and I have had some interesting and heartening exchanges with Christian theologians and religious leaders — people who have a stake in the “faith” word. This came from a very esteemed Christian church historian and theologian:

  1. Naming is always hard. I sometimes find it easier to write a book than to name it.
  2. The old name and the surrogates admittedly don’t work well in our culture. “Faith,” “Religion,” “Spirituality” can confuse or alienate or distance some potential listeners.
  3. We have to admit, then, though, that no replacement can please all or serve all; solutions have to be partial.
  4. The name has to be inclusive, but also say something. “Being” is about as inclusive as anything can be; ask Paul Tillich or Martin Heidegger or other out-of-reach beings. (We Lutherans are trained to say of “church” etc that it is not a “being” but a “becoming,” but that wouldn’t be becoming for your purposes.
  5. I think you and your conversations partners will give flesh to this spirit in countless variations. You can even allow some existentialists on, “being” being their specialty.
  6. So I’ll be listening and watching!

I am very aware, as we have finally moved into this transition last week and this week and next week, that it is up to us to fill this new name with connotations and meaning. I think we’re up to it, and I know and trust that our listeners/readers will hold us accountable!

Tagged: #name change
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