Phyllis Alsdurf: Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tippett uses her pulpit—both in print and broadcast—to preach the healing power of conversation. "Something magical happens in a real conversation," she writes, "where people bring the clearest words they can muster, and the most natural, to matter and meaning. Paradoxically, what is most personal also lands in other ears as most universal." She says she no longer looks for solutions, systems and overarching themes that "apply to all people and all places." Instead, honoring the humanity of "different others" is her task. Her goal is not to champion a particular worldview, but to "keep sense and virtue and the possibility of healing alive in the middle of the world's complexity."

A commitment to finding the truth in all religious traditions may keep the conversation going, but it can avoid facing the unbridgeable abyss that exists between many religious traditions. The tension for Christians, of course, is that personal experience is not the bedrock of faith, and a focus on first-person narratives may only contribute to the "Sheilaism" or intensive privatization of faith that Robert Bellah warned of back in the '80s. Enamored of mystery, nuance, and questioning even as she finds herself delving into faith systems that are built on certainties and absolutes, Tippett may have chosen a stance that keeps her in a sort of spiritual limbo, where she is ever encouraging of others' accounts of their faith but is left standing on the sidelines of religious experience herself.

Tippett says she has opted for a "clear-eyed faith" that asks her to confront both her own failings and the world's horrors. For her, the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, to repair the world, is one that holds special resonance. Clearly, listening to others has become a way for Tippett to repair if not save the world—one conversation at a time.

Read it all. I really like Ms. Tippett and her program.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture

6 Comments
Posted February 23, 2008 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. archangelica wrote:

I listen to podcasts of this program and find them to be insightful and refreshing. Look no further for the finest treatment of world religions and spirituality treated with tenderness, integrity and respect. While meant to be informative (which they are) they are done in such a way as to be also contemplative. Reminds me of Godly Play story-time for grown ups.

February 23, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
2. PadreWayne wrote:

archangelica: grin
I agree.

February 23, 6:18 pm | [comment link]
3. DGus wrote:

Sorry to be negative, but I find the leveling and Indifferentism of Tippet’s show to be saddening, grievous, unbearable.  People do not need spirituality.  They do not even need (generic) faith.  Rather, people need Jesus Christ.

February 23, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
4. Saint Dumb Ox wrote:

She may have a nice program (I have tried a number of times to listen), but just because it’s nice universalism doesn’t really make me like it.
I guess I get enough universalism at diocesesen(sp?) meetings.

I guess if she is really a seeker after good then I pray she finds it as all good comes from God.  And the world really does need more nice people.

February 23, 8:25 pm | [comment link]
5. archangelica wrote:

#3 Do you really think a secular media outlet would be in the business of promoting the exclusive claims of any one religion? If that is what your after listen to Christian radio. An educated person, especially a Christian, ought to know something about the religions of the world, even conservative Evangelical seminaries teach at least one world religions course.

February 24, 12:02 am | [comment link]
6. Choir Stall wrote:

Faith in faith is not Christianity. Sincerity is not Christianity for one can be sincerely wrong. I find that my Unitarian associates would watch this and resonate…as would any religion since it is somewhat vague enough to please many views.  If it is of Christ religious devotion will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

February 24, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
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