On Being Tumblr

On Being Tumblr

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.

From Faith to Being: Reflections on a Name Change

by Krista Tippett, host


I am excited, and a little nervous, to share some big news. We are giving this adventure in conversation a new name. Starting September 16th, Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett is becoming Krista Tippett on Being.

This doesn’t signal a change in the nature or ethos of what we will continue to produce week after week. It is, rather, a more spacious container for what the program has become. Being makes room for the ways in which we have in fact opened up the concept of “speaking of faith.” It points at questions of “religion, meaning, ethics and ideas” at the heart of human life — not confined to Sunday mornings or Friday evenings, not on the sidelines of real life, but at the essence of who we are and how we live, individually and collectively.

We believe that Being is also a title with room to grow into, while Speaking of Faith has taken us as far in public media as it could. As much as we filled it with new meaning, the program’s title remained an obstacle for many programmers and listeners. The story we have heard again and again is that people have had to get over the title, or find themselves listening to the show by accident, before they were ready to give themselves over to our content. We have heard that, for religious and non-religious people alike, the title Speaking of Faith makes it hard to talk about the program with friends and family — to spread the word “virally,” as word spreads in our time.

This process of discernment that we might want and need to change the name of the program has been one of the most surprising learnings of the past year, which has been a period both of solidifying the program’s strengths and of continuing to experiment. The energy and possibilities it opens fill me with a new excitement for the next stage of this project and my passion for it.

Full disclosure: I did not have an immediate enthusiastic reaction to Being. But I have come to love the title. As I have settled into it, slept on it, practiced saying it in front of the vast array of shows we do, and realized all of its connotations, it feels like home. “Being” is an elemental, essential word. It was a catchword of the existentialism of the 20th century, and existentialism is making room for spiritual life in the 21st. It is more hospitable than the word “faith” for our non-Christian and non-religious listeners. It is, at the same time, an evocation of the primary biblical name of God. “I am who I am” can be better translated, I recall my teacher of Hebrew pointing out, as “I will be who I will be.”

As we were in the thick of this discernment, a mother wrote to us of how her teenage daughter has recently been drawn to our program. She commented on our blog, “It has been rewarding to watch her discover that unlike her subjects in school, religion cannot fit into a neat box. I’m sure she will tune in again as she continues to shape her own way of BEING in this world. This is certainly my hope.” The capitalization was hers. We take on our appeal to her, indeed our responsibility to her, as a great and edifying adventure — our next frontier of listening, learning, and public service.

Now I want to invite you, our listeners, to grow into this new name, this evolving identity, with us. Let us know how it sits with you, how you are hearing it, and what it means. And please come along on the next phase of this journey.


In Praise of Open Windows

Shari Motro, guest contributor

Granni Sunshine
Painting by Ola Schary. “It’s a copy of a postcard my grandmother painted for me when I was a child. She was a great lover of fresh air, a gentle and beautiful soul.”

Krista’s interview with Bill McKibben inspired me to write this, so I thought it would be fitting to post it on this blog.

Last spring, the Obamas planted a White House vegetable garden. This year, why not follow up by cutting the air conditioning and opening the windows? They might also set a temperature range for the White House within which neither artificial heating nor cooling is used — recognizing that for much of the spring and fall what nature provides simply cannot be improved.

I’m no fan of indoor refrigeration even in summer. I realize I’m in the minority. Nevertheless, year-round climate control is surely not what most people want. During these glorious weeks, I cannot believe the office and retail workers who crowd every outdoor café and park bench at lunchtime appreciate returning to their airtight posts. I cannot believe the guests of most major hotels prefer stale recycled air over an April breeze. I cannot believe the bedridden sick and elderly prefer the drone of forced air to the calls of nesting birds. Novelist Henry Miller called the United States the “air-conditioned nightmare.” He had a point.

The ubiquity of windows that do not open may cause some not to notice what they are missing. Sealed spaces divide, they alienate, they blind us to what is happening beyond our threshold. They rob us of the goose bumps you feel as the sun sets at the end of a balmy day, of the sounds of crickets and children, of the smell of freshly mown grass, honeysuckle, earth. A different kind of comfort emerges when we tune in rather than anesthetizing ourselves to our given reality, and with this comfort comes a different kind of compassion for ourselves and our surroundings.

In the end, of course, this isn’t only about us. Americans make up 4% of the world’s population and we produce a quarter of its carbon dioxide pollution. I don’t know where you draw the line between personal comfort and responsibility, but treating our air 12 months a year, 24/7 is on the wrong side of it. This isn’t comfort, it’s gratuitous waste.

Who stands to lose from an open-window revolution? The multibillion dollar HVAC industry. I’m okay with that.

It’s been a long winter — let the sun shine in.

Shari MotroMs. Motro teaches law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. This essay was first published in The Wall Street Journal on April 10, 2010 and reprinted with permission of the author.

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