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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Podcasts Make Learning Better
Tess Perese, visiting student

Teachers tend to stick to traditional formats of education such as textbooks, lectures, and so on. I can honestly say that the SOF podcasts have been the most rewarding and beneficial to my learning experience thus far. They offer an engaging way to learn through the ongoing back-and-forth of intriguing questions and perplexing answers.

"Children of Abraham" is one podcast that captured my attention. Krista’s conversation with Bruce Feiler about the role of Abraham in the differing faiths caused my Comparative Religions class to enter into a discussion about the origins of each religion and how, in actuality, they are quite similar.

Several of our class periods were taken up by this show. Many students discussed how absurd it was for such conflict to exist between the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam when they all share a common belief: Abraham. The podcast opened up several avenues of discussion that otherwise may not have been addressed. For high school students, religion is one of the hardest topics to talk about and understand. With the aid of the SOF podcasts, my class was made to be an incredibly enriching experience that I will never forget.

Here’s a transcript of the audio clip above that resonated with me:

Ms. Tippett: So this has been a roundabout way of answering a question that I had, which is, you know, why — I think the figure of Abraham is incredibly important, practically important, but it was a question in my mind why lots of Americans should see that or, you know, why this should be on the cover of Time magazine, or if it can really have an effect, but what you’re — now I’m sort of seeing that this figure can have a different relevance because of the sort of new religious sensibility of the time we’re living in.

Mr. Feiler: Well, first of all, I think there are some basic things that we ought not to forget because we are having this conversation at a high level, which is, it is a family feud, and for a lot of people, that’s a headline, that Jews and Christians and Muslims all came from the same land, from the same family; that Abraham is a figure that is central to Jews, Christians, and actually more central to Muslims than arguably to the other two. That’s a really important realization, that we do all come — and that also leads to the next assumption, which is that we all share the same God. And the reason that all three religions have gone back to Abraham — this is the thing: God chooses Abraham in Genesis 12, and Abraham chooses God. And then each of the religions over time has chosen to link itself back to Abraham because he’s so closely associated with God. In a sense, you can’t get to God without understanding Abraham. They could have chosen anybody. They could have chosen David, they could have chosen Moses, they could have chosen, Isaac, they chose — they could have chosen Adam. They chose Abraham. That choice is powerful. And to me, that suggests that we can choose Abraham as well. We can choose an Abraham for this moment. Abraham Number 241 is what I say in my book, but that’s just sort of a whimsical way of saying we can make him relevant to our time.

And the moment that we live in now is the religions about to descend into war. They’ve been at war for a long time, but the weapons are a lot bigger now. Planes are weapons. Nuclear bombs are weapons. And we need to remember at least that we do have this family feud, that at the center of it is one man, and I think he contains the seeds of hope because I really, I really feel that the story of Abraham is not Pollyannaish, and that’s what’s so great about it. There’s violence in it, as well as peace in it. He’s a flawed vessel, but he is the best vessel we’ve got, and so I think that’s why people are grabbing for him.

Ms. Tippett: He’s fully human.

Mr. Feiler: He’s fully human. He’s fully us.

Tess PereseTess Perese is a recent graduate of The Blake School in Minneapolis and will be attending Colby College in Maine. She observed our production process for three weeks as part of a high school class project.

We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on SOF Observed. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.