by Shubha Bala, associate producer
Within a month of joining Speaking of Faith, I was told the program I work for was going to be changing its name. Since then, it’s been a hectic journey of learning how to produce while supporting the name change tasks. But it has also been a crash course in the thoughtfulness of our listening community.
Ever since Krista first announced the change, I have been obsessed with reading your reflections. You have eloquently shared a range of feelings and opinions from loving the change to mourning the loss, to disliking Being. Here are some samples of what has been said:
Sad at the loss of “faith” in the name.
Many of our long-time listeners mourned the loss of the word “faith” in the title and wondered if it signaled a change in the editorial direction of the program. As we’ve pointed out, the content of our program will continue to be about “faith, meaning, ethics, and ideas.” Robbyn’s comment on our blog echoed many other listeners’ sentiments:
"I really don’t want the word ‘faith’ gone. It is so hard to find good conversation from faithful people these days. I can find myself and the common ground shared with all your guests, within this process of moving in faith in life. This is a movement of faith rather than belief. This is an active and intentional process. Being isn’t, necessarily. I am seeing your conversations as a movement away from religious fanaticism and intolerance that can be within any religion, and toward the daily living within the mystery of life or faith or God or whatever one cares to call it. I want this conversation to continue to grow and open to new audiences, AND I want people to recognize that this is the process of faithing.”
Like a name change, but not to Being.
Some of you supported changing the name but felt Being was not the best choice. We received many comments similar to this one:
"As one at whom the name change was probably aimed, I appreciate the effort to avoid offending those who find the word ‘faith’ offensive. However, I’m afraid that I’d rather be a little intimidated by the concept of faith than bored by the concept of ‘being’, which strikes me as far too general a term to have any meaning.
—Renee, commenting on our blog
Like the name change.
Many supported the name change for a host of reasons, from the fact that Being resonates with their experiences of the show to being able to feel more comfortable telling their high school students about it. These comments came from a diverse group, including non-religious and religious people:
"Understanding Being is essential to (and intrinsic to) all spiritual journeys. When we are comfortable with being, we can allow others to also be comfortable with being and as beings. As long as we see and practice only doing, we will not appreciate our essential nature as humans being. Understanding being is critical to peace.”
—Peggy Beatty, via Facebook
"Anyone familiar with the work of modern Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas (Being as Communion, Eucharist, Bishop, Church, many others) will see the connection and appreciate the change. My suggestion would be to get Metropolitan John on your show to discuss Being from his theological viewpoint. Kate mentioned in one of her many replies that Being has deep theological meaning, and Metropolitan John has expanded this theological perspective greatly in the last 3 decades.”
—Jeffrey Abell, via e-mail
Dislike Krista’s name at the front.
Some people didn’t like Krista’s name at the front of the title. We included her name there to make it clear that she remains central to the show as host and editorial leader, but in most applications the new name will be heard as Being. The following comment included many of the reasons that people were upset at Krista’s name being in the title:
"People who have not yet found your pioneering show are not familiar with Krista, and as another noted, her guests contribute the canvass on which she paints her enlightened questions and reflective responses and serves as a representative listener on our behalf. Placing her name first gives me the impression that she has been set up to be some guru, savant-type host. And, God willing, even should her career/discernment path take her in another direction, the show could continue as Speaking of Being, with __________.”
—Patricia, commenting on our blog
Unfortunately, Being with Krista Tippett has an inappropriate connotation to it.
There were a handful of people that said they might stop listening to the program, while for many of you the name doesn’t matter since the content will remain the same:
"Krista, thank you for doing what you do, whatever you call it! Most of my friends and I refer to your show as ‘Krista Tippet’ anyway. ‘Did you catch Krista Tippet this week?’ ‘Make sure you listen to Krista’s program this week.’ Doesn’t matter what you call it, the content is valuable to my being and unlike anything else available in my area."
—Bookmarkt, commenting on our blog
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:
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!