On Being with Krista Tippett

On Being Studios

On Being takes up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers, some you know and others you'll love to meet. Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. Hosted by Krista Tippett.

  • 1 minute 17 seconds
    “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe” by Elizabeth Alexander

    Today, a poem with a poignant question to live: “...and are we not of interest to each other?” Carry Elizabeth Alexander’s reading of her poem “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe” with you — and hear Elizabeth read more of her poetry in the On Being episode, “Words That Shimmer.”

    Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, author, and educator. Since 2018, she has served as president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019 and is Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets. Her books include American Sublime, a 2006 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the memoir, The Light of the World, a 2016 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Her most recent book is The Trayvon Generation.

    21 June 2024, 5:09 pm
  • 59 minutes 10 seconds
    Luis Alberto Urrea — On Our Belonging to Each Other

    We humans have this drive to erect barriers between ourselves and others, Luis Alberto Urrea says, and yet this makes us a little crazy. He is an exuberant, wise, and refreshing companion into the deep meaning and the problem of borders — what they are really about, what we do with them, and what they do to us. 

    The Mexican-American border was as close and personal to him as it could be when he was growing up — an apt expression of his parents’ turbulent Mexican-American divorce. In his writing and in this conversation, he complicates every dehumanizing stereotype of Mexicans, "migrants" — and border guards. A deep truth of our time, Luis insists, is that “we miss each other.” He offers a vision of the larger possibility of our time beyond the terrible tangles of today: that we might evolve the old illusion of the melting pot into a 21st-century richness of “us." And he delightfully models that messiness and humor will be required.

    Luis Alberto Urrea is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. His books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction include Into the Beautiful North, The Devil’s Highway, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and Goodnight, Irene.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    This show originally aired in July 2018.

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    20 June 2024, 6:00 pm
  • 59 minutes 5 seconds
    Ross Gay — On the Insistence of Joy

    In our world of so much suffering, it can feel hard or wrong to invoke the word "joy." Yet joy has been one of the most insistent, recurrent rallying cries in almost every life-giving conversation that Krista has had across recent months and years, even and especially with people on the front lines of humanity's struggles. 

    Ross Gay helps illuminate this paradox and turn it into a muscle.

    We are good at fighting, as he puts it, and not as good at holding in our imaginations what is to be adored and preserved and exalted — advocating for what we love, for what we find beautiful and necessary. But without this, he says, we cannot speak meaningfully even about our longings for a more just world, a more whole existence for all. To understand that we are all suffering — and so to practice tenderness and mercy —  is a quality of what Ross calls “adult joy." Starting with his cherished essay collection The Book of Delights, he began to accompany many in an everyday spiritual discipline of practicing delight and cultivating joy.

    Ross Gay is a poet, essayist, teacher, and passionate community gardener. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where he’s a professor of English at Indiana University. His books include The Book of Delights, The Book of (More) Delights, and Inciting Joy, as well as the poetry collections Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and Be Holding.  

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    This show originally aired in July 2019.

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    13 June 2024, 6:00 pm
  • 1 hour 16 minutes
    Janine Benyus and Azita Ardakani Walton — On Nature's Wisdom for Humanity

    In this all-new episode, Krista engages biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus in a second, urgent conversation, alongside creative biomimicry practitioner Azita Ardakani Walton. Together they trace precise guidance and applied wisdom from the natural world for the civilizational callings before us now. 

    What does nature have to teach us about healing from trauma? And how might those of us aspiring to good and generative lives start to function like an ecosystem rather than a collection of separate, siloed projects? We are in kinship. How to make that real — and in making it real, make it more of an offering to the whole wide world?

    Krista, Azita, and Janine spoke at the January 2024 gathering of visionaries, activists, and creatives where Krista also drew out Lyndsey Stonebridge and Lucas Johnson for the recent episode on Hannah Arendt. We're excited to bring you back into that room.

    Janine Benyus's classic work is Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. She is the co-founder of the non-profit Biomimicry Institute. She also co-founded Biomimicry 3.8, a consulting and training company. 

    Azita Ardakani Walton is a philanthropist and social entrepreneur. She has pursued her work through nature’s principles as a means to inform economics, social organizations, and design. She was the founder of the creative impact agency Lovesocial, and is currently in the pursuit of the relationship between inner life and outer ecology to meet the challenges of these times.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

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    6 June 2024, 6:00 pm
  • 11 minutes 16 seconds
    Befriend Your Body: A Compassionate Body Scan

    In a time of stress, uncertainty, and isolation, Christine Runyan turns our attention to what often evades our awareness — the response of our nervous systems. As part of On Being’s 2021 Midwinter Gathering, she offered this brief, practical, gently guided practice as an invitation to befriend your beleaguered body, to “blanket it with a little bit of tenderness, a little bit of kindness.”

    Delve more deeply into Runyan’s wisdom in her On Being conversation with Krista, On Healing Our Distressed Nervous Systems.

    Christine Runyan is a clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Chan Medical School. She is also a certified mindfulness teacher, and she co-founded and co-leads Tend Health, a clinical consulting practice focused on the mental well-being of medical and health care workers.

    Find the transcript for this practice at onbeing.org.

    Watch an animated version of this practice on our YouTube page.

    31 May 2024, 8:00 pm
  • 1 hour 1 minute
    Christine Runyan — On Healing Our Distressed Nervous Systems

    The years of pandemic and lockdown are still working powerfully on us from the inside. But we have trouble acknowledging this, much less metabolizing it. This conversation with Christine Runyan, which took place in the dark middle of those years, helps make sense of our present of still-unfolding epidemic distress — as individuals, as communities, as a species. She has cultivated a reverence for the human nervous system. She tells truths about our bodies that western medicine itself is only fitfully learning to see. This quiet conversation is not just revelatory, but healing and calming. It holds startling prescience about some of what we're navigating now. And it offers self-compassion and simple strategies for finding ease within ourselves — and with each other — as we live forward from here.

    Christine Runyan is a clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Chan Medical School. She is also a certified mindfulness teacher, and she co-founded and co-leads Tend Health, a clinical consulting practice focused on the mental well-being of medical and health care workers.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    This show originally aired in March 2021.

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    30 May 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 14 minutes 26 seconds
    “Joy is the Justice (We Give Ourselves)” by J. Drew Lanham

    We are overjoyed to share this heart-stirring performance with you, which transpired when we invited the ornithologist/poet/former On Being guest J. Drew Lanham to offer some poetry at a live On Being event in January 2024. We could not have imagined the lightning in a bottle that unfolded — a live adaptation of the title poem that appears in Drew's wonderful new book, Joy is the Justice We Give Ourselves.

    Be sure to listen to his full 2022 conversation (accompanied by poetry and birdsong) with Krista — “Pathfinding Through the Improbable.” And find our full collection of poetry films and readings from two decades of the show, at Experience Poetry.

    J. Drew Lanham is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Master Teacher, and Certified Wildlife Biologist at Clemson University. In 2022, he was named the Poet Laureate of Edgefield County, South Carolina, where he grew up. He is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature and a collection of poetry and meditations, Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts. His new book is Joy is the Justice We Give Ourselves.

    24 May 2024, 6:30 pm
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
    Lyndsey Stonebridge and Lucas Johnson — On Love, Politics, and Violence (Channeling Hannah Arendt)

    Here is a stunning sentence for you, written by Lyndsey Stonebridge, our guest this hour, channeling the 20th-century political thinker and journalist Hannah Arendt: "Loneliness is the bully that coerces us into giving up on democracy." This conversation is a kind of guide to generative shared deliberations we might be having with each other and ourselves in this intensely fraught global political moment: on the human underlay that gives democracy its vigor or threatens to undo it; on the difference between facts and truth — and on the difference between violence and power. Krista interviewed Lyndsey once before, in 2017, after Hannah Arendt's classic work, The Origins of Totalitarianism, had become a belated runaway bestseller. Now Lyndsey has published her own wonderful book offering her and Arendt's full prescient wisdom for this time. What emerges is elevating and exhilaratingly thoughtful — while also brimming with helpful, practicable words and ideas. We have, in Lyndsey's phrase, "un-homed" ourselves. And yet we are always defined by our capacity to give birth to something new — and so to partake again and again in the deepest meaning of freedom.

    Hannah Arendt's other epic books include The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem, in which she famously coined the phrase "the banality of evil." She was born a German Jew in 1906, fled Nazi Germany and spent many years as a stateless person, and died an American citizen in 1975. This conversation with Lyndsey Stonebridge happened in January 2024, as part of a gathering of visionaries, activists, and creatives across many fields. Krista interviewed her alongside Lucas Johnson, a former leader of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation who now leads our social healing initiatives at The On Being Project.

    Lyndsey Stonebridge is a Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. Her 2024 book is We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt’s Lessons in Love and Disobedience. Her other books include Placeless People: Writings, Rights, and Refugees. In 2023, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

    Lucas Johnson is Executive Vice President of Public Life & Social Healing at The On Being Project. He was previously a leader of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the world’s oldest interfaith peace organization.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    Note: A previous version of this audio mistakenly attributed a quote to James Baldwin. The author of the quote is Maria Popova, creator of The Marginalian, and appears in an essay she wrote discussing Baldwin’s work.

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    23 May 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 11 minutes 9 seconds
    New From Poetry Unbound: A Series on Conflict and the Human Condition

    A taste of a special mini-season of Poetry Unbound — bringing contemplative curiosity and the life-nurturing tether of poetry to the very present matter of conflict in our world. In this first offering, Pádraig introduces the intriguing idea of poems as teachers and ponders Wisława Szymborska’s “A Word on Statistics," translated by Joanna Trzeciak. This poem covers statistics of the most human kind — like the number of people in a group of 100 who think they know better, who can admire without envy, or who could do terrible things. Listen, and ask yourself: Which categories do I belong to? Which do I believe?

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    All seven parts of the series are ready for listening now in the Poetry Unbound feed and at onbeing.org

    Read Pádraig’s weekly Poetry Unbound Substack, read the Poetry Unbound book, or listen back to all of our episodes.

    21 May 2024, 6:00 pm
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    Colette Pichon Battle — On Knowing What We're Called To

    There is an ecological transformation unfolding in the places we love and come from. On a front edge of this reality, which will affect us all, Colette Pichon Battle is a singular model of brilliance and graciousness of mind and spirit and action. And to be with her is to open to the way the stories we tell have blunted us to the courage we’re called to, and the joy we must nurture, as life force and fuel for the work ahead. As a young woman, she left her home state of Louisiana and land to which her family belonged for generations, to go to college and become a powerful lawyer in Washington, D.C. Then in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina made, as she has said, "a crack in the universe," she returned home to a whole new life and calling. Colette Pichon Battle is a vivid embodiment of the new forms societal shift is taking in our world — led by visionary pragmatists close to the ground, in particular places, persistently and lovingly learning and leading the way for us all.

    Colette Pichon Battle is co-founder and Vision & Initiatives Partner for Taproot Earth, a global organization which has emerged from the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy that she founded and led in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She and her colleagues are influencing manifold aspects of our ecological present, including equitable disaster recovery and global migration, community economic development and energy democracy.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    This show originally aired in March 2022.

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    16 May 2024, 6:00 pm
  • 54 minutes 16 seconds
    Kate DiCamillo — On Nurturing Capacious Hearts

    In her writing, it is Kate DiCamillo's gift to make bearable the fact that joy and sorrow live so close, side by side, in life as it is (if not as we wish it to be). In this conversation, along with good measures of raucous laughter and a few tears, Kate summons us to hearts "capacious enough to contain the complexities and mysteries of ourselves and each other" — qualities these years in the life of the world call forth from all of us, young and old, with ever greater poignancy and vigor.

    Kate DiCamillo has written many bestselling books, beloved by children and adults in touch with their inner eight-year-old, for two decades, including Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician’s Elephant, Flora & Ulysses, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Some of these have been turned into operas and movies. Her new books in 2024 include the middle grade novel Ferris and Orris and Timble: The Beginning. She is a rare two-time winner of the Newbery Medal.

    Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

    This show originally aired in March 2022.

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    Sign up for The Pause — a Saturday morning companion newsletter to the On Being podcast season, and our mailing list for news and invitations all year round. Be the first to know as tickets go on sale for the On Being 2025 live national conversation tour.

    9 May 2024, 6:00 pm
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