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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.

Leaving No Factions Untouched

Trent Gilliss, online editor

As we were updating the script for "No More Taking Sides," we ran across this passage included in the Parents Circle - Families Forum 2009 annual report:

"Palestinian member of the Forum, Ali Abu-Awad met with more than 60 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Palestinian fighters most of who are on Israel’s most wanted list. He spoke about non-violent resistance and the work of the Parents Circle - Families Forum and gave them an alternative framework to function. After six hours these hardened fighters wanted to know more and there will be ongoing meetings. Many in the meantime have given up their arms and are looking for another way.”

We were aware that the organization Robi and Ali participate in as bereaved family members, and now work for, reach out to many people as part of a process of dialogue and understanding. But, reading this, was a stark reminder that their efforts extend beyond the peace-loving middle to even the most militant, radical coalitions.

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Memories of a New Associate Producer

Shubha Bala, associate producer

As the newest addition to Speaking of Faith, my first task has been to prepare the show "No More Taking Sides" for rebroadcast in a couple of weeks. Listening to Ali say “Nobody want to be honest. Everybody want to be right,” reminded me of working in Gujarat when "state-sanctioned" violence, torture, and rape broke out across the state, primarily with Hindus attacking Muslims.

Although Hindu by birth, I was working there for a non-denominational organization. I was 20. Under 24-hour curfew, the media were saturated with images of brutality happening just down the street. More importantly, the dialogue of friends and colleagues concentrated on “us” versus “them.”

Recently, a friend read my personal narrative and asked, “Didn’t the Hindus realize the irony that came with attaching terms of violence to the Muslims?” Well no. Not the Hindus that took a side. They felt they were right and all Muslims were wrong. As for me, in addition to coping with the sheer force of violence, I was equally faced with a personal crisis — the Hindus I met believed I was part of “them,” but I just wanted to be human and I wanted the brutality to stop.

Robi and Ali’s story makes me imagine that organizations like Parents Circle - Family Forum can break down the centuries of opposing sides that have persisted between Hindus and Muslims.

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Download

Kitchen Table Thoughts on a Windy City Event
» download (mp3, 90:47)
Colleen Scheck, Producer

From the Back of the ChurchMe again, with another update on the many adventures of Krista Tippett this month. Last week, Krista traveled to Chicago for a live event at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Here, the tables were turned as Interfaith Youth Core’s Eboo Patel asked Krista questions about the program and about religious religion and ethics in our time. Our events coordinator and her daughter sat at their kitchen table in Minneapolis listening to the online stream provided by our station partner, WBEZ, and wrote the next day:

"Wow…My daughter and I were the listeners at the kitchen table Eboo described, and we loved every minute of it….This broadcast was good radio. Highlights: hearing a city’s sirens in the background during Adam’s intro, really feeling the audience’s attentiveness, Eboo mentioning Wilco, and quoting Tony Campolo, who is quoting Huck Finn about being right in the heart vs. right in the head, Krista’s senstive answer to the Fort Hood question, Krista’s explanation of verse plucking, spiritual technologies and the body, Eboo praising Speaking of Faith as creating a ‘community of discourse.’ Great interview, great Q&A….”

We’re pleased to bring you the audio of that event for your kitchen table (or podcast while you workout) listening. And, for those of you who prefer a Twitter recap, direct from our managing producer, who attended in person:

  1. Krista and Kate are in Chi-town for event—7PM, Monday, 4th Church, w/Eboo Patel. Come! Windy here. Oh yeah. The Windy City. KM
    8:38 PM Nov 15th
  2. @Lthemick V. Funny. Spell check is dangerous.
    9:06 PM Nov 15th in reply to Lthemick
  3. Krista w/Eboo, speaking with staff at Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. Tonight’s event is at 7 at 4th Church. Come! http://yfrog.com/edt53j
    10:47 AM Nov 16th
  4. 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago. http://yfrog.com/4jt5rj
    4:16 PM Nov 16th
  5. We’re told to plan on a potential crowd of 800 tonight in downtown Chicago. Can’t be here? Join us online. 7 PM CST: http:/bit.ly/2kUOAY
    4:43 PM Nov 16th
  6. OK, try that link again. Trent has the B Team on location tonight, poor guy. 7PM Chicago time. Krista & Eboo. http://bit.ly/2kUOAY
    4:48 PM Nov 16th
  7. @katemoos (my lovely boss) is still gettin’ the hang of this Internet thing-a-mabob. Here’s the link to the live audio: http://bit.ly/33oiUy
    5:23 PM Nov 16th
  8. BTW, Krista’s live conversation in Chicago with Eboo Patel starts at 7 pm Central tonight: http://bit.ly/33oiUy
    5:28 PM Nov 16th
  9. John Buchanan welcomes the assembled to 4th Church. http://yfrog.com/7hi6pj
    6:04 PM Nov 16th
  10. For those listening to live stream, send in your questions and I’ll be glad to include some!
    6:08 PM Nov 16th
  11. The church is packed. 700? Maybe 800! http://yfrog.com/bel85j
    6:11 PM Nov 16th
  12. Krista says when she left home for school, there was no space for religion in her new context. She became involved in geopolitics. Berlin.
    6:12 PM Nov 16th
  13. Breaking: Eboo & Krista were both born on the day the Berlin Wall fell. November 9. Wow.
    6:14 PM Nov 16th
  14. KT: If I was going to be religious again I was going to have to be able to bring my mind to it. http://yfrog.com/5al2uej
    6:17 PM Nov 16th
  15. KT cites Bonhoeffer: “Religionless Christianity.” The church had become so corrupted. People are rediscovering virtue and taking it back.
    6:19 PM Nov 16th
  16. Eboo: who made a difference in the 20th century? People of faith. Gandhi. Dorothy Day. Martin Luther King.
    6:20 PM Nov 16th
  17. I felt public radio was smart about everything else but religion was a black hole.—KT
    6:23 PM Nov 16th
  18. Because it was so important and because journalism had gotten religion so wrong we had to work that much harder to get it right.-KT
    6:25 PM Nov 16th
  19. Eboo: Talk about speaking of faith as an act if theology.
    6:25 PM Nov 16th
  20. KT: No one can be a Niebuhr in our age. Speaking of Faith goes beyond religion. It may be scientists. Police. How do we hold the sacred.
    6:28 PM Nov 16th
  21. Eboo cites Wilco: Theologians, they don’t know nothing ‘bout my soul.
    6:29 PM Nov 16th
  22. Eboo: if there is a countercultural media figure it is you. SoF does’t do news stories.
    6:34 PM Nov 16th
  23. Webers to let the initial outrage of the news work itself out. Then we circle back.
    6:36 PM Nov 16th
  24. KT: we covered the issue of torture. But we had to find out how to get at it. Not the question, does it work? We found the voice.
    6:38 PM Nov 16th
  25. KT: when monks in Burma marched, we found Ingrid Jordt. And ineeded to know what that meant. 6:39 PM Nov 16th
  26. Sorry for the slow down. Listener questions up next.
    6:54 PM Nov 16th
  27. Eboo asked about Fort Hood. Krista says we can only approach that event with deep perspective. Be appalled at violence and grieve.
    6:58 PM Nov 16th
  28. Eboo what is the sow doing for your grandpa’s mind?
    7:00 PM Nov 16th
  29. Eboo: science And religion? Krista I have a book out in March, Einsteins God…
    7:04 PM Nov 16th
  30. From theback of the church. http://yfrog.com/j7ac3ej
    7:08 PM Nov 16th
  31. Does amateur theology water it down? KT says it can. But many great thinkers may be unaffiliated with tradition.
    7:10 PM Nov 16th
  32. There is spiritual but not religious but for many it is fluid.
    7:12 PM Nov 16th
  33. Why do we need a God? We turn to at only certain times? KT: this is true.But. We also rarely choose to stand in the presence of frailty.
    7:14 PM Nov 16th
  34. KT: I look at it both ways. I’mfascinated by the vastly different vocabularies.
    7:15 PM Nov 16th
  35. How do we not demonize the other in our own tradition?
    7:15 PM Nov 16th
  36. KT: That’s hard. It’s harder to be compassionTe to your cousin who disagrees about abortion or gay marriage.
    7:17 PM Nov 16th
  37. People make breakthroughs when they humanize their interaction.
    7:18 PM Nov 16th
  38. Oh boy. That was unexpected.
    7:21 PM Nov 16th
  39. Does this work lead you to hope or despair?
    7:28 PM Nov 16th
  40. Kt: we are bombarded by images and violence. I want to shine a light on widom, voices that are nourishing. Ian looking for hope.
    7:29 PM Nov 16th
  41. But it requires you to look.
    7:30 PM Nov 16th
  42. Even with our resouces I have no idea that something is happening that might bring hope.
    7:31 PM Nov 16th
  43. Eboo: you have created a club of “lookers for hope,” Thanyou!
    7:32 PM Nov 16th
  44. Debrief. Yay! Thanks!
    7:53 PM Nov 16th
  45. @evaottesmith We’d love to come. Someday!
    10:26 PM Nov 16th in reply to evaottesmith
  46. @HeyToepfer Not sure yet. Chicago Public Radio was recording. I’ll (@trentgilliss) get the details + let everyonee when it’s ready.
    5:48 AM Nov 17th in reply to HeyToepfer
  47. @akdennis Our managing producer was live-tweeting from Chicago in which Eboo Patel was interviewing Krista: http://bit.ly/33oiUy. Sorry.
    9:51 AM Nov 17th
  48. Leaving Chicago. Krista reading Agatha Christie. Thank you every body!! http://yfrog.com/0zhf8wj
    3:05 PM Nov 17th
Comments

The Daily Show, Heckling, and Hope
Andy Dayton, associate web producer

There was a bit of stir a few weeks ago when Jon Stewart welcomed Ann Baltzar and Dr. Mustafa Barghouti onto The Daily Show. Baltzar is author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, and Barghouti is “a leading figure in the Palestinian democratic and nonviolent movement for peace.” The stir resulted from having two guests that approach the issue from a "Palestinian point of view."

At one point in the interview a member of the audience yells “liar” to Barghouti (apparently the first heckler in the show’s 11 years), and Stewart quickly turns it into fodder for discussion asking Barghouti how he maintains hope when people “can’t even agree to begin the conversation.”

Trent had a look at the video of this exchange last Friday, and clued me in on something I completely missed — a close connection to a story Karen Armstrong tells in this week’s program. Both of these situations involve someone in the audience disrupting the discussion, and a consideration of how best to handle it. From the transcript, a story that took place at the “God 2000” conference at Oregon State University:

And then when we were on the final panel, suddenly erupted in the hall a fundamentalist who started to shriek at us incoherently. What I could make out was that he was saying that Jews and Muslims denied Jesus and therefore they were going to hell, and all of those of us who sided with Jews and Muslims were also going to hell, and this was evil. And you couldn’t hear much, because he was so incoherent with rage and despair. What I could hear, however, was the note of pain in his voice. This was not just some loony. This was somebody who was suffering and in pain, and felt profoundly threatened by what we were saying.

And the point is that we, seven of us on this panel — we’re all articulate people, we’d all been talking nonstop to each other and to the audience for the last two days. We were utterly struck dumb. None of us could say a word. We felt utterly winded by this assault. Even me, and I should have known better, because I’d just finished my book on fundamentalism. I couldn’t think of anything to say. Eventually this man was hustled out, and the moderator said, ‘Well, I wish we could have talked to him, because he is part of the conference of God, “Where Is God at 2000?” He’s part of this conversation.’ But somehow we couldn’t talk with one another. He was incoherent, we were struck dumb and useless, and this is the problem that we’re facing.

With that in mind, there’s something in Barghouti’s response that he would “very much like to meet” the man who raised his voice and heckled. Perhaps simply a willingness to start the conversation is hopeful enough.

Comments
Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Arash + RaminAndy Dayton, associate web producer



» download (mp3, 8:32)
You may recognize these two voices from last week’s program, "Curiosity over Assumptions." We used an excerpt from Arash and Ramin Nematollahi’s conversation in the show, which included as part of audio above. Hearing their conversation, one gets a sense of their bond not only as Iranian-Americans and Muslims, but also as brothers.Much of their conversation seems to center around the complexity of identity that can come in a pluralistic society. “I don’t have a particular identity,” Arash says, “I’m very proud to be American … but there’s an Iranian part of me that is there, and there’s a Muslim identity in me.” Ramin picks up on this comment, contrasting that experience to the country they were born in, Iran:
"You would say ‘I am Iranian’ and that’s it — case shut. And I’m Muslim because that’s what everyone tells me to be … But in America you have all these different choices. I totally understand what you’re saying, ‘cause I am American, but I’m also Muslim, I’m also all these different things. What does that mean at the end of the day?"
For me, this really resonated with what we’ve heard in the last few months from our "Living Islam" and "Revealing Ramadan" programs. I was especially reminded of Samar Jarrah, who wrote about what makes being an American Muslim unique: “Living in the USA and being exposed to so many different Muslims from so many different countries and cultures made me realize that there are many faces to Islam.” Later in her essay, she writes:
"But being a Muslim in America makes me a better Muslim. A more hopeful one. I have had hundreds of amazing messages of love and support. I have had Americans shake my hands with tears in their eyes asking me to speak more. Just this Saturday morning, I was in the company of a very intellectual group of retired men and women (oldest was 95) who are still wanting to learn about Islam from a Muslim, and for this I am forever grateful to be a Muslim in America."
Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.
Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Arash + RaminAndy Dayton, associate web producer



» download (mp3, 8:32)
You may recognize these two voices from last week’s program, "Curiosity over Assumptions." We used an excerpt from Arash and Ramin Nematollahi’s conversation in the show, which included as part of audio above. Hearing their conversation, one gets a sense of their bond not only as Iranian-Americans and Muslims, but also as brothers.Much of their conversation seems to center around the complexity of identity that can come in a pluralistic society. “I don’t have a particular identity,” Arash says, “I’m very proud to be American … but there’s an Iranian part of me that is there, and there’s a Muslim identity in me.” Ramin picks up on this comment, contrasting that experience to the country they were born in, Iran:
"You would say ‘I am Iranian’ and that’s it — case shut. And I’m Muslim because that’s what everyone tells me to be … But in America you have all these different choices. I totally understand what you’re saying, ‘cause I am American, but I’m also Muslim, I’m also all these different things. What does that mean at the end of the day?"
For me, this really resonated with what we’ve heard in the last few months from our "Living Islam" and "Revealing Ramadan" programs. I was especially reminded of Samar Jarrah, who wrote about what makes being an American Muslim unique: “Living in the USA and being exposed to so many different Muslims from so many different countries and cultures made me realize that there are many faces to Islam.” Later in her essay, she writes:
"But being a Muslim in America makes me a better Muslim. A more hopeful one. I have had hundreds of amazing messages of love and support. I have had Americans shake my hands with tears in their eyes asking me to speak more. Just this Saturday morning, I was in the company of a very intellectual group of retired men and women (oldest was 95) who are still wanting to learn about Islam from a Muslim, and for this I am forever grateful to be a Muslim in America."
Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.

Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Arash + Ramin
Andy Dayton, associate web producer


» download (mp3, 8:32)

You may recognize these two voices from last week’s program, "Curiosity over Assumptions." We used an excerpt from Arash and Ramin Nematollahi’s conversation in the show, which included as part of audio above. Hearing their conversation, one gets a sense of their bond not only as Iranian-Americans and Muslims, but also as brothers.

Much of their conversation seems to center around the complexity of identity that can come in a pluralistic society. “I don’t have a particular identity,” Arash says, “I’m very proud to be American … but there’s an Iranian part of me that is there, and there’s a Muslim identity in me.” Ramin picks up on this comment, contrasting that experience to the country they were born in, Iran:

"You would say ‘I am Iranian’ and that’s it — case shut. And I’m Muslim because that’s what everyone tells me to be … But in America you have all these different choices. I totally understand what you’re saying, ‘cause I am American, but I’m also Muslim, I’m also all these different things. What does that mean at the end of the day?"

For me, this really resonated with what we’ve heard in the last few months from our "Living Islam" and "Revealing Ramadan" programs. I was especially reminded of Samar Jarrah, who wrote about what makes being an American Muslim unique: “Living in the USA and being exposed to so many different Muslims from so many different countries and cultures made me realize that there are many faces to Islam.” Later in her essay, she writes:

"But being a Muslim in America makes me a better Muslim. A more hopeful one. I have had hundreds of amazing messages of love and support. I have had Americans shake my hands with tears in their eyes asking me to speak more. Just this Saturday morning, I was in the company of a very intellectual group of retired men and women (oldest was 95) who are still wanting to learn about Islam from a Muslim, and for this I am forever grateful to be a Muslim in America."

Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.

Comments

Interfaith, Interreligious, Pluralism, Dialogue, Etc.

Mitch Hanley, senior producer

We often struggle with crafting interesting or catchy titles for each new program. Sometimes we latch on to something one of our guests said in the interview, as was the case with our recent program, which may win the dubious honor of having the longest title: Curiosity Over Assumptions, Interreligiosity Meets a New Generation.

But, please do know that it was not without much debate and extensive brainstorming among our entire staff to try to arrive at a title for the work of Aziza Hasan and Malka Haya Fenyvesi. With humility, I share some of the runners-up:

  • Reimagining Interfaith (blah)
  • Jewish-Muslim Relationship: The Next Generation (starring Patrick Stewart!)
  • Us & Them - Engaging the Other in Jewish/Muslim Conversation (blah)
  • The Next Generation of Interreligious (still a bit Trekky)

The struggle had to do with our attempts to avoid the words “interfaith,” “dialogue,” and “pluralism,” which we felt do not sufficiently carry the meaning and real importance of the work that many are doing around the world. We also didn’t want to invoke images of intergalactic pluralism (still a far off dream, I’m afraid).

Krista even brought up the shortcomings of these terms in the interview. Here is an excerpt from the transcript:

Ms. Tippett: I feel that the word “interfaith” or the adjective “interfaith,” even like the word “pluralism,” these words themselves are kind of safe and benign and maybe even boring. When, in fact, when people really have their hands and lives dug into this stuff, as you do, it’s anything but. I mean, it’s very dramatic. It’s galvanizing. It’s changing human life. Do you think about that, that problem of the words themselves getting in the way of communicating to the larger society, what the power of this is?

Ms. Hasan: Absolutely, and I’m glad you brought that up because, when we first started the program, that’s how I would describe it. I would say, you know, this is an interfaith dialog group, and it just wasn’t deep enough. I mean like I’ve been there, done that. I don’t need to do hugs and hummus. If anything, I want to be part of something that’s real, and so to be able to finally like understand the complexity beneath the surface and the importance of having honest conversations that deal with issues like identity and diversity of opinion and gender and so many other things.

Ms. Fenyvesi: I also think a lot about what one of our Fellows who’s actually a Rabbinical student right now said to me. He said, “I really feel like NewGround is about what it means to be Muslim and Jewish in America today.” So that’s not as short as pluralism or interfaith, but I think there’s something about it that really covers what we do.

So what do you think? What words really capture the importance and essence of this work? Or do the existing defaults — e.g. interfaith, pluralism, dialogue — work just fine?

Comments
Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Sarah + Joanna Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

	


» download (mp3, 5:17)

	Sarah Kelman and Joanna Schochet are friends who are half-Jewish on their fathers’ sides. “We’re both halfies,” they say. “By the book I don’t count,” says Joanna.
When Joanna says she doesn’t count, she’s referring to the principle of matrilineal descent in Judaism where Jewishness is passed down through the mother. Not all denominations in Judaism observe this law, but it’s still a very real issue that Sarah and Joanna seem to have wrestled with throughout their lives.
In our latest show, "Curiosity Over Assumptions," Krista explores the notion that interfaith engagement isn’t just about encountering “the other.” Along the way, people may come to know themselves and their faith traditions differently.
Earlier this year Sarah and Joanna interviewed each other about their experiences as NewGround fellows. Listening to the conversation, I’m struck by how their Jewish identities are still evolving — and how they seem to find connection and comfort in each other stories. Joanna reflects on how her brother (who himself decided to formally convert) once told her that she didn’t “count” as Jewish. Sarah asks, “Do I consider myself Jewish and why and who is it good enough for…and what do I think about that?”
Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.
Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Sarah + Joanna Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

	


» download (mp3, 5:17)

	Sarah Kelman and Joanna Schochet are friends who are half-Jewish on their fathers’ sides. “We’re both halfies,” they say. “By the book I don’t count,” says Joanna.
When Joanna says she doesn’t count, she’s referring to the principle of matrilineal descent in Judaism where Jewishness is passed down through the mother. Not all denominations in Judaism observe this law, but it’s still a very real issue that Sarah and Joanna seem to have wrestled with throughout their lives.
In our latest show, "Curiosity Over Assumptions," Krista explores the notion that interfaith engagement isn’t just about encountering “the other.” Along the way, people may come to know themselves and their faith traditions differently.
Earlier this year Sarah and Joanna interviewed each other about their experiences as NewGround fellows. Listening to the conversation, I’m struck by how their Jewish identities are still evolving — and how they seem to find connection and comfort in each other stories. Joanna reflects on how her brother (who himself decided to formally convert) once told her that she didn’t “count” as Jewish. Sarah asks, “Do I consider myself Jewish and why and who is it good enough for…and what do I think about that?”
Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.

Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Sarah + Joanna
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer


» download (mp3, 5:17)

Sarah Kelman and Joanna Schochet are friends who are half-Jewish on their fathers’ sides. “We’re both halfies,” they say. “By the book I don’t count,” says Joanna.

When Joanna says she doesn’t count, she’s referring to the principle of matrilineal descent in Judaism where Jewishness is passed down through the mother. Not all denominations in Judaism observe this law, but it’s still a very real issue that Sarah and Joanna seem to have wrestled with throughout their lives.

In our latest show, "Curiosity Over Assumptions," Krista explores the notion that interfaith engagement isn’t just about encountering “the other.” Along the way, people may come to know themselves and their faith traditions differently.

Earlier this year Sarah and Joanna interviewed each other about their experiences as NewGround fellows. Listening to the conversation, I’m struck by how their Jewish identities are still evolving — and how they seem to find connection and comfort in each other stories. Joanna reflects on how her brother (who himself decided to formally convert) once told her that she didn’t “count” as Jewish. Sarah asks, “Do I consider myself Jewish and why and who is it good enough for…and what do I think about that?”

Find more stories from other NewGround fellows here. Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.

Comments
Tatarstan, A Model for Interfaith Dialogue Trent Gilliss, online editor
The most unexpected  connections are often made through the most unlikely sources. A couple of days ago, a friend of mine (whose name you might see in our photo credits from time to time) sent me an e-mail asking for advice on restaurants where he could entertain some diplomats from the republic of Tatarstan.
Now, Marc’s got a sly, subtle, playful humor. I immediately thought he was joking and made a play on words — Tatar, as in cream of tartar or steak tartare, and a dining establishment. But, I know that he also served in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps volunteer and that the NGO he works for conducts a fair amount of business in that area of the world where most countries end in “stan.”
A quick search revealed that Tatarstan is an actual place, and part of the Russian Federation. My ignorance shining brightly, once again.
In the most delightful way, I also happened upon a number of reports detailing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Kazan, its capital. And, more serendipitously, an article from Radio Free Europe reported she said that “the Russian republic of Tatarstan could serve as a model for tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians.”
Our current show, "Curiosity over Assumptions," highlights the work of two women who are leading a Muslim-Jewish interfaith group in Los Angeles, and might serve as a new model for this type of dialogue within local communities. As we look domestically for  people coming together with their religious identities intact, it’s helpful to be reminded that other countries in unimaginable areas have wrestled for centuries with these issues and have much to teach if we are only aware  —  and do a Google search.
(photo: U.S Secretary of State Clinton visited the Kol Sharif mosque and later the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan on October 14, 2009.)
Tatarstan, A Model for Interfaith Dialogue Trent Gilliss, online editor
The most unexpected  connections are often made through the most unlikely sources. A couple of days ago, a friend of mine (whose name you might see in our photo credits from time to time) sent me an e-mail asking for advice on restaurants where he could entertain some diplomats from the republic of Tatarstan.
Now, Marc’s got a sly, subtle, playful humor. I immediately thought he was joking and made a play on words — Tatar, as in cream of tartar or steak tartare, and a dining establishment. But, I know that he also served in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps volunteer and that the NGO he works for conducts a fair amount of business in that area of the world where most countries end in “stan.”
A quick search revealed that Tatarstan is an actual place, and part of the Russian Federation. My ignorance shining brightly, once again.
In the most delightful way, I also happened upon a number of reports detailing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Kazan, its capital. And, more serendipitously, an article from Radio Free Europe reported she said that “the Russian republic of Tatarstan could serve as a model for tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians.”
Our current show, "Curiosity over Assumptions," highlights the work of two women who are leading a Muslim-Jewish interfaith group in Los Angeles, and might serve as a new model for this type of dialogue within local communities. As we look domestically for  people coming together with their religious identities intact, it’s helpful to be reminded that other countries in unimaginable areas have wrestled for centuries with these issues and have much to teach if we are only aware  —  and do a Google search.
(photo: U.S Secretary of State Clinton visited the Kol Sharif mosque and later the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan on October 14, 2009.)

Tatarstan, A Model for Interfaith Dialogue
Trent Gilliss, online editor

The most unexpected connections are often made through the most unlikely sources. A couple of days ago, a friend of mine (whose name you might see in our photo credits from time to time) sent me an e-mail asking for advice on restaurants where he could entertain some diplomats from the republic of Tatarstan.

Now, Marc’s got a sly, subtle, playful humor. I immediately thought he was joking and made a play on words — Tatar, as in cream of tartar or steak tartare, and a dining establishment. But, I know that he also served in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps volunteer and that the NGO he works for conducts a fair amount of business in that area of the world where most countries end in “stan.”

A quick search revealed that Tatarstan is an actual place, and part of the Russian Federation. My ignorance shining brightly, once again.

In the most delightful way, I also happened upon a number of reports detailing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Kazan, its capital. And, more serendipitously, an article from Radio Free Europe reported she said that “the Russian republic of Tatarstan could serve as a model for tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians.”

Our current show, "Curiosity over Assumptions," highlights the work of two women who are leading a Muslim-Jewish interfaith group in Los Angeles, and might serve as a new model for this type of dialogue within local communities. As we look domestically for people coming together with their religious identities intact, it’s helpful to be reminded that other countries in unimaginable areas have wrestled for centuries with these issues and have much to teach if we are only aware — and do a Google search.

(photo: U.S Secretary of State Clinton visited the Kol Sharif mosque and later the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan on October 14, 2009.)

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Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Malka + AzizaNancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

	


» download (mp3, 5:32)

	We’re in the final throes of polishing up our latest production, “Curiosity Over  Assumptions: Interreligiosity Meets a New Generation” (yes, we know it’s a  mouthful!). Featured in this show are two activists based in Los Angeles, Malka  Haya Fenyvesi  and Aziza Hasan, whom Krista first encountered in  2007 at an Interfaith Youth Core conference. Together they co-direct an interfaith fellowship program in Los Angeles called NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
As production for this show unfolded, we were searching for how to illuminate the lived experience and impact of interfaith programs like NewGround. We wanted to know: “What do these NewGround fellows actually do? What does it look like or sound like?”
The organization didn’t have any audio recordings of their bi-monthly dialogue sessions, so we initially considered interviewing a handful of alumni. Then we discovered four pairs of fellows had actually interviewed each other through StoryCorps, a traveling oral history project. To kick things off, here’s some tape of Malka and Aziza talking about their family histories and memories, and how these legacies speak to the activist work they’re doing in LA.
Earlier this year we used StoryCorps material in another show we produced, "Alzheimer’s, Memory, and Being." This lovely  audio  gave the program emotional heft, and our audience noticed. As one listener wrote:

"This morning on the way to the dog park I was completely overwhelmed and moved listening to the two daughters interview their father. The interview was beautiful in its sadness and horrified me in its possible prediction of my relationship with my parents. I had to sit for a long while waiting to clear the tears before I could get out of my car.”
-Brian Coleman, Boca Raton, FL

As producers, we love getting e-mails like this because it tells us that the material we’re putting out there “sings.” Over the coming week, we’ll be featuring excerpts of some NewGround conversations on SOF Observed. Let us know what you think.
*Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in  Los Angeles in 2009.
Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Malka + AzizaNancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

	


» download (mp3, 5:32)

	We’re in the final throes of polishing up our latest production, “Curiosity Over  Assumptions: Interreligiosity Meets a New Generation” (yes, we know it’s a  mouthful!). Featured in this show are two activists based in Los Angeles, Malka  Haya Fenyvesi  and Aziza Hasan, whom Krista first encountered in  2007 at an Interfaith Youth Core conference. Together they co-direct an interfaith fellowship program in Los Angeles called NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
As production for this show unfolded, we were searching for how to illuminate the lived experience and impact of interfaith programs like NewGround. We wanted to know: “What do these NewGround fellows actually do? What does it look like or sound like?”
The organization didn’t have any audio recordings of their bi-monthly dialogue sessions, so we initially considered interviewing a handful of alumni. Then we discovered four pairs of fellows had actually interviewed each other through StoryCorps, a traveling oral history project. To kick things off, here’s some tape of Malka and Aziza talking about their family histories and memories, and how these legacies speak to the activist work they’re doing in LA.
Earlier this year we used StoryCorps material in another show we produced, "Alzheimer’s, Memory, and Being." This lovely  audio  gave the program emotional heft, and our audience noticed. As one listener wrote:

"This morning on the way to the dog park I was completely overwhelmed and moved listening to the two daughters interview their father. The interview was beautiful in its sadness and horrified me in its possible prediction of my relationship with my parents. I had to sit for a long while waiting to clear the tears before I could get out of my car.”
-Brian Coleman, Boca Raton, FL

As producers, we love getting e-mails like this because it tells us that the material we’re putting out there “sings.” Over the coming week, we’ll be featuring excerpts of some NewGround conversations on SOF Observed. Let us know what you think.
*Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in  Los Angeles in 2009.

Four Pairs of Interfaith Fellows: Malka + Aziza
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer


» download (mp3, 5:32)

We’re in the final throes of polishing up our latest production, “Curiosity Over Assumptions: Interreligiosity Meets a New Generation” (yes, we know it’s a mouthful!). Featured in this show are two activists based in Los Angeles, Malka Haya Fenyvesi and Aziza Hasan, whom Krista first encountered in 2007 at an Interfaith Youth Core conference. Together they co-direct an interfaith fellowship program in Los Angeles called NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

As production for this show unfolded, we were searching for how to illuminate the lived experience and impact of interfaith programs like NewGround. We wanted to know: “What do these NewGround fellows actually do? What does it look like or sound like?”

The organization didn’t have any audio recordings of their bi-monthly dialogue sessions, so we initially considered interviewing a handful of alumni. Then we discovered four pairs of fellows had actually interviewed each other through StoryCorps, a traveling oral history project. To kick things off, here’s some tape of Malka and Aziza talking about their family histories and memories, and how these legacies speak to the activist work they’re doing in LA.

Earlier this year we used StoryCorps material in another show we produced, "Alzheimer’s, Memory, and Being." This lovely audio gave the program emotional heft, and our audience noticed. As one listener wrote:

"This morning on the way to the dog park I was completely overwhelmed and moved listening to the two daughters interview their father. The interview was beautiful in its sadness and horrified me in its possible prediction of my relationship with my parents. I had to sit for a long while waiting to clear the tears before I could get out of my car.”

-Brian Coleman, Boca Raton, FL

As producers, we love getting e-mails like this because it tells us that the material we’re putting out there “sings.” Over the coming week, we’ll be featuring excerpts of some NewGround conversations on SOF Observed. Let us know what you think.

*Special thanks to StoryCorps, who recorded these stories in Los Angeles in 2009.

Comments

"Curiousity Over Assumptions"

Andy Dayton, associate web producer

Last Wednesday was our “cuts ‘n copy” session for Krista’s interview with Malka Haya Fenyvesi and Aziza Hasan. Fenyvesi and Hasan are co-founders of NewGround, a project that reaches out to members of Jewish and Muslim communities and brings them together for dialogue and “doesn’t shy away from discussing the tough topics such as, identity, gender, pluralism and Israel/Palestine.” One phrase that grabbed me is when Fenyvesi explained that NewGround encourages “curiosity over assumptions” during its dialogue sessions.


NewGround fellows.
(photo: a NewGround session, courtesy of Aziza Hasan)

It’s a common-sense idea: when going into a situation of existing conflict, one’s assumptions are likely to continue feeding that conflict. But curiosity — about other religious traditions, other ways of living, alternative ways of seeing the world — has the potential to span seemingly unbridgeable gaps.

One thing that seems to drive many of us at Speaking of Faith is a shared curiosity, which has taken the show to many unexpected places. Hearing Malka Haya Fenyvesi’s “curiosity over assumptions” was refreshing in its practical value — as a means of bringing people closer together.

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Eat, Listen, Ask: Learning from Students

Aaron Spiegel, guest blogger

"Next to being the children of God our greatest privilege is being the brothers of each other."
—Martin Buber

Rabbi Aaron SpiegelWe in the religion world use the word interfaith much too often. And in my opinion, most of what passes for interfaith dialogue is not dialogue at all — it’s a lecture about why I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s not that we’re all religious zealots, but most often the forum for these dialogues are set up to create division rather than civil discourse. Put simply, we’re much better at talking than listening.

I recently had a chance to experience real interfaith dialogue. Butler University students from Hillel, a Jewish student organization, and Muslim Student Alliance decided they wanted to organize a dinner and conversation around Eid and the High Holy Days. The two organizations have collaborated in the past couple years on similar events and have a great working and social relationship.

The students formulated the agenda, which was brilliantly simple — let’s each give the very basics of our holiday and then ask each other questions. Let’s eat together, listen to each other, and ask each other questions.

On the surface, the conversation seemed light and conversational. Yet, the exchange was profound. These young Jews and young Muslims genuinely shared with each other. There was no attempt at making nice; they genuinely liked talking to each other. There were no overt attempts at finding commonality; it was inherent. They recognized the humanity in one another. They learned about, and from, one another in ways that are lasting and powerful. I’m sure it will influence how these young adults see the “other” in their lives. I know it’s influenced mine!

Rabbi Aaron Spiegel is campus rabbi for Butler University.

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Download

La Convivencia and the West-Eastern Divan
» download [mp3, 2:57]
Marc Sanchez, associate producer

Ibrahim Al-MarashiThe audio above comes from one of our "Revealing Ramadan" participants, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, who appeared in our podcast and radio program. He’s an Iraqi-American who currently lives and teaches in Spain, and has lived in California (Los Angeles and Monterey) and Turkey. During his interview, he talked about one of the things that attracted him to Spain: La Convivencia. This idea, which translates as “the coexistence,” describes a cultural harmony between Muslims, Jews, and Christians and was first coined when Spain came under Muslim rule beginning in the 8th century. Al-Marashi goes on to talk about his Lebanese-Christian grandmother and his interests in shared Muslim-Jewish-Christian ideas.

Al-Marashi’s interview was fresh in my mind when I happened to catch an airing of the documentary, Knowledge Is the Beginning. The movie follows a season of the West-Eastern Divan, an orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

The orchestra is made up of young Israelis and Arabs, and Barenboim’s hope is to show how music can bring people together. The idea for the group was born out of Barenboim’s friendship with Edward Said.

Edward Said and Daniel BarenboimBarenboim was first raised in Buenos Aires, the son of Russian Jews, and he began studying piano and giving performances at an early age. His family relocated to Israel 10 years after Barenboim was born, and he was on the conductor’s track before his thirteenth birthday.

Said was born in Palestine before the founding of Israel. His family moved to Egypt after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He went on to study at Princeton and Harvard and to teach English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was a prolific writer, and staunch advocate for Palestinian rights. He passed away in 2003.

West-Eastern Divan Rehearsal

In addition to his political writing and cultural criticism, Said was a passionate fan of classical music. So much so that he was the classical music critic for The Nation. It was through music that he and Barenboim first bonded. And, it was music that opened a dialogue to their differences. Said and Barenboim knew that coming together — just bringing your ideas to the table to talk — can open a lot of doors. From the orchestra’s Web site:

"Music by itself can, of course, not resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Music grants the individual the right and obligation to express himself fully while listening to his neighbour. Based on this notion of equality, cooperation and justice for all, the Orchestra represents an alternative model to the current situation in the Middle East."

(Top photo: Ibrahim Al-Marashi.

Middle photo: Edward Said, left, and Daniel Barenboim, right, chat during an awards ceremony in Oviedo, Spain in 2002. Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images.

Bottom photo: The West-Eastern Divan rehearses at Royal Albert Hall in London for the BBC Proms in 2009. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.)

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juxtaposed:religion

Trent Gilliss, Online Editor

juxtaposed:religion[Editor’s note: I was combing through a test blog for SOF that never made it into production. One of the entries I posted I regretted not publishing. The piece is timeless, so I thought I’d re-post for you design lovers.]

The design house of mike and maaike developed a wonderfully elegant and simple bookshelf for a curated series of bookshelves. Its title: “religion.” Niches for seven influential religious texts are carved out of a three-foot-long piece of hardwood and reverently cozied up to one another. Included are the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Qur’an, Confucius’ The Analects, the Tao Te Ching (translated by Stephen Mitchell), The Discourses of the Buddha, and the Torah.

You can get one of these lovely pieces, but it’ll cost you. The price: $2500.

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