Why We Belong to Each Other: A Conversation with Krista Tippett and Eboo Patel
June 14, 2021
On Thursday, June 10, 2021, Krista Tippett and Eboo Patel discussed the value of courageous pluralism and deep listening at a pivotal moment of our nation’s collective formation. How can we equip young people to best address the needs of our time and beyond—truly cultivating the understanding that we belong to one another? Eboo and Krista engage the power of poetry, life’s essential questions, religious traditions’ wisdom, and our world’s unlimited transformative potential.
Krista Tippet, Journalist, Author, National Humanities Metal Recipient, and Host of On Being:
“We need fresh language, we need words that shimmer, words with real power. We need to not just talk about truth as in “narrowly defined as fact”. That’s what poetry gets at is undergirding truth, and that was language for me… We don’t know how to talk about undergirding curiosity, we know how to talk about competing facts and arguments. So, I think we’ve been in a truth crisis for a long time, not knowing how to talk about truth. And that’s what’s led it. We talk about it as a fact crisis, but there’s an underlying problem that we walked into.”
Eboo Patel, President and Founder, IFYC:
“People are always talking about, “you can’t ignore the elephant in the room.” And at one point I had this image of animals and I was like, if you keep on focusing on the elephant in the room, you miss all the other animals. Like go hang out with the peacocks for a minute people! And you have this notion, and I’m just underscoring your words: I’m not interested in hearing debates that are set up to end in all the predictable ways.”
Eboo: Hello Krista.
Eboo: Nice to see you and to be with you.
And let me just say a huge thank you to my friends and colleagues Katherine, Becca, Mary Ellen, and Hannah, who make the trains run, who fly the planes, who build the culture, who make IFYC what it is, alongside several dozen others. Hugely grateful to you for creating the space for Krista and I to chat. So I’m gonna embarrass you and say that you are an American treasure, and I am proud to know you, and even prouder to call you friend.
And this is in a long line of conversations that we get to have, but I have never been able to say in public what I’m about to say, which is, Krista, tell us about the religion of your childhood.
Krista: You’re turning the tables on me. Um, well just let me say, how lovely It is to be here, and I always like to use this language, that you and I started our projects, both around the turn of the century. And so we’ve been on this interesting arc together. And even as the world has been on its own incredible trajectory.
Yeah, I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher. And I would say also I just grew up in a really immersive religious environment, by which I mean that church wasn’t just the center of religious life it was the center of life, right? It was the center of culture and community.
It was a place that I was, you know, many days of the week, twice on Sundays. My grandfather was a real kind of old-fashioned evangelist. He also had a second-grade education, he hadn’t even been to seminary. And having said that, he had a beautiful mind, he had a, he had a great big mind. And he also, he preached hellfire and brimstone.
And he was one of the most passionate, funny people I knew. He was a person of great, I don’t want to say contradictions, I just want to say complexity. And so even though I grew up with a religious sensibility that had a lot to do with rules and certainties, I experienced in him a lot of complexity, but it actually made its way into my imagination about what we’re here for. And who God might be.
And, I’ve taken that with me. I also felt in my life of asking questions that in some ways, like, my grandfather was so intelligent but I think he had not been invited to bring the life of the mind to his Bible that he loved so much, and I sometimes felt that, you know, especially when I, when I have my interviews with scientists, and with people of many traditions, that I’m kind of asking questions he wouldn’t have known he could ask, with him beside me.
Eboo: So I’m going to embarrass you throughout this right, and I’m going to begin right now, just say I mean, part of part of what I love about that is, is the way you take pieces that are not connected for other people and connect them, right. So somebody can be fire and brimstone and have a lot of softness, right, somebody can be very, very, doctrinal and have this life of the mind, and part of the way the turn of your mind works, is you’re asking the question, those things could be connected, and they’re not, but they could be. So let’s try, right. I just find that so powerful, I mean in a way I think like both, you know, genius is making connections between things that other people don’t.
Right. And, and there’s a genius in American civic life, which is, how do people who disagree on lots of fundamental things work together on other fundamental things and find ways to not blow each other up about their disagreements, and you host that space on your show. And I’m curious, you know, for this. Like this particular time in American life.
I’d love you to reflect on the kinds of shows you’ve done with David Gushee and Frances Kissling right, people on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to the issue of abortion, or more recently with Bishop Michael Curry and Russell Moore, you know.
Why do you do that, what have you learned from it?
Oh, I do that, because I’m so dissatisfied. We have all these disagreements, you know, there are all these moves we make. I started out as a print journalist, I’m in the media right, so it’s a journalistic impulse, but I think it’s also a cultural impulse to frame, every important question, by drawing out the extreme polls, you know, pitting them against each other.
Flattening out, complex civilizational challenges and national challenges to issues. You know, once we turn something into an issue it’s in these boxes, doctrinal is it is a good word for a lot of the way we go about things politically.
And we, we bracket out most of the conversation we could be having we, we, we bracket out of those kinds of conversations in the very framing from the very beginning, all kinds of paths those conversations could be taking.
You know, for example, when I, when I spoke with David Gushee and Frances Kissling a few years ago about abortion, I said, we’re going to talk about what is at stake in abortion, and why. But without framing it in terms as a pro life, pro choice discussion, right, those are not biblical categories. I mean they’re like social categories, in which this really important deliberation has become frozen.
And, yeah, with Bishop Curry and Russell Moore. Yeah, so for me it’s about reframing and opening possibilities, I’m just not interested anymore in hearing most of the debates that are set up to end in exactly the same way, before they begin, basically. When we talk about abortion, when we talk about being in different places along the religious spectrum, we’re talking about so much more than issues, we don’t delve into the, the human or the spiritual dimensions, into what moral imagination might be, what the interest, we don’t even lay out the range of questions that are before us, so that’s how I approach that kind of dialogue. I don’t even use the word dialogue, conversation, encounter.
Eboo: I mean, so I just want to underscore a handful of the things you said right.
Why, why, how is it that we have decided that the most important social category is the issue, rather than all of these other social categories, right? Why is it that in any argument that we have, what are the conversations that we are not having, and could some of those be the more important conversations right?
Like people are always talking about, “you can’t ignore the elephant in the room.” And at one point, you know, I had this image of animals and I was like, if you keep on focusing on the elephant in the room you miss all the other animals, the things that are happening, right. Like go hang out with the peacocks for a minute people! You know, and then this notion, and I’m just underscoring your words right, is, I’m not interested in hearing debates that are set up to end in all the predictable ways.
Like if you had a magic wand and, and you waved it across the TV screen and you said, I’m banishing all the debates that are set up to end in predictable ways, what percentage of like, news-oriented TV would disappear with that. I’m totally serious.
Krista: We’re really, we’re in so many ruts. So I mean, most of what I see is unsatisfying, it doesn’t take us farther.
We have so many challenges, which are both daunting and beautiful. It is amazing to be alive in this time with the redefining with the reckoning center before our generation and time, by which I mean all of us alive now, right.
I think to your question of how did we get into this rut.
I really think this is all, a lot of this is a hangover from the 20th century, which was very technocratic or, and really even the Enlightenment right, there’s been a few hundred years in the West and the 20th century kind of perfected this, where we divided ourselves up right, and we prioritized thinking and arguing and answers. And we pretended that we are logical creatures who can resolve any issue in logical ways and it’s just not the truth of us. I mean this, Eboo, is one of the reasons that I am so drawn to religious traditions, as you know, as a part of the human enterprise, as a part of public life, because one of the things our traditions possess is a very sophisticated analysis of the human condition of human nature, a sophisticated, complicated analysis which is actually being kind of borne out by what we’re learning through neuroscience and evolutionary biology these days. And that is also to say that we contradict ourselves all the time, or none of us is as rational as we think we are.
But there are other complexities to that, that are beautiful, there’s a lot more goodness in us than we’ve given ourselves credit for.
But if we only focus on what is dysfunctional, and what is destructive, that doesn’t help us flex the muscles of living into that, into our good or better capacities.
Eboo: I mean, this is, this is why there are a thousand reasons that I listen to On Being religiously, including the additional podcasts, the Pádraig Ó Tuama one, which I absolutely love, it’s because after listening to, I’m one of these crazy people that gets like 11 newsletters a day, Atlantic and the New Yorker, The New York Times and, and I read them all. And I’m like why do I do that every day? Because it’s, it’s the debate set up in the same way to end in the same place.
And I listened On Being, and it in it both expands and it gets to the essence right. And I think to myself, you know, the venerable profession of economics, for however many hundreds of years, pretended that we were rational humans right.
And by the last 20 years Daniel Kahneman and Cass Sunstein and Amos Tversky like these, these, these guys are like, actually we’re not rational beings.
Right. And, and they win Nobel prizes for that, and good for them they’ve done excellent work. but it’s not as if, you know, there haven’t been traditions that have not, this is not news, right?
Krista: Moses could have won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Eboo: Right? It is not a rational thing to fast during Ramadan. Right. It is not a rational thing to tithe to the church, you are not maximizing self-interest.
Krista: We are more, even if we were rational, we are more than brains, we are more than thinking machines, and that’s another thing that science is just documenting. We’re so interactive, you know, body, I mean things that we think about as mental and cognitive and memories, they’re in our bodies, and what we’ve talked about as the spirit, emotions, physicality, and ideas, that we are, we are ecosystems right? And so we have this, this society and these, and this, in this profession of journalism and media which tells us the story of ourselves, which are working with a partial understanding of us, of ourselves.
Eboo: So, our friend David Bornstein who runs the solutions journalism project, he loves to tell the story where he says his dad calls him one night and he says, David. We are worse than animals. We humans are worse than rabid dogs. And David says, dad are you watching cable news? And he was!
So it’s one of the reasons you know in in my, my devotional listening to On Being, it’s true right? In my devotional listening, and to the poetry podcast, it’s, it is a wider and deeper sense of being human, and I want to talk, I want to ask about why you have made a regular program and ritual of poetry, and I’m going to pause there and say that I listen to it all the time.
And every once in a while, so my kids like yours, remember when you told me “I’m just the hockey Mom,” this is like, however many years ago. So I’m that. I’m just a little league dad just, just the basketball, I just, I’m driving kids right all the time, which means that they’re captive. So, my deal with the like six, 11- year-olds in the back of my car is I will let you listen to hip hop, that your moms would not like, if you allow me to recite a poem.
It totally drives my 11-year-old crazy.
But then he gets a list of the stuff that their moms definitely would not let them listen to. So, the favorite, the consensus favorite, is Wendell Berry’s “Contrariness of the Mad Farmer.”
So half of the poems come from, and so I’m just going to quote a little bit of this right .
“When they said, I know my Redeemer liveth, I told them, he’s dead. And when they told me God is dead, I answered, he goes fishing every day in the Kentucky River, I see him often. When they asked me what I like to contribute I said no, and when they had collected more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.”
Right this is “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer”, and it ends with this:
“It is not the only or the easiest way to come to the truth. It is one way.”
And these kids loved this poem, they loved this poem, right. And I think to myself like what? So, there are people who might quote the occasional poem or two in the media, and you’re like we’re going to do whole poems, we’re going to do whole poems, I want to build a whole program around them. And we’re going to, we’re going to put it up where, this is a salient part of how we humans understand each other.
So, tell us about what poetry is meant to tell us about the process of making that decision from, from a major media figure.
Krista: Yeah, well, so honestly it’s not like I suddenly had this flash of revelation and I understood it and walked into it, it was more that actually it’s connected to this public life work, Eboo, because in the fall of 2010, which was a terribly toxic election season that we can’t, you know we, we kind of act like the last few years just happened, but we’ve been walking into this toxic political life for a long time. And that was, that was a really, really awful election, just a divisive election, and I interviewed a poet, in that period, Elizabeth Alexander.
And I interviewed her like in December. And one of the things she talked about coming out of that experience is that we need fresh language to speak to each other, to reach across the chasms that had developed between us.
We need fresh language, we need words that shimmer, words with real power that we need, to not just talk about truth as in “narrowly defined as fact”, but that’s what poetry gets at is undergirding truth, and that was language for me. Like that was a way to talk about this. It’s what we don’t know how to do right in all cable news or anywhere. We don’t know how to talk about undergirding curiosity, we know how to talk about competing facts and arguments. So I think, you know, when I think we’ve been in a truth crisis for a long time, not knowing how to talk about truth. And that’s what’s led it. Like we talk about it as a fact crisis but there’s an underlying problem that we walked into.
So anyway, I interviewed Elizabeth she’s talking about this kind of thing.
We put the show on the schedule for January 2011. Then we got around to producing it. That week representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot at that civic event, a couple people were killed, a civic event outside of a supermarket, you know, meet your rep, meet your representative.
And we were still in a place as a country back then, that people on both sides of the aisle, and few remember this because people don’t, but both sides all said, realized that there was a line between the way we had been talking to and about each other that led to an event like that.
And, and so there were all these, so anyway, so I put Elizabeth on, we had Elizabeth Alexander slated for that week and it was too late to take it off and I was actually very worried that it would feel tone deaf. You know, irrelevant at best and offensive at worst to put a poet on the air in a week of national tragedy, and we had such an outpouring of gratitude for that show.
And, speaking of the matter of how we speak to each other, the words, we use the power of the words we use, we wield them so carelessly. We wield words, we wield words as weapons, so carelessly, or we wield words meaninglessy, so you know the rabbis say words make worlds. And I really believe that.
Eboo: And that’s Heschel, that’s straight Heschel.
Krista: It’s Heschel, and it’s the ancient rabbis and so you know, what I know now about poetry, I think it’s a way, it’s one tool to break out of the way we have wrecked our public discourse, the way we are not talking.
Speaking together in order to live together differently in our public life. I also see, to the point of the work you do, and that I do that all of our religious traditions have always deployed poetry, like they’ve always had it as one way of using words that belongs in your vocabulary, when you’re talking about things that matter. And when you’re talking about questions that don’t have answers and that actually want you to acknowledge that they don’t have an answer because what you have to do is dwelling, and discerning.
I you know couple of lines that have been defining for you, David White the poet said to me, “poetry is language against which, poetry is language against which we have no defense.”
So what you’re talking about, about how a poem lands, even in a, in a car full of kids on their way to soccer practice is unlike all of our political posturing and argumentation and our, our caricaturing each other and our name calling you know. You put a poet, you say a poem in the room, and it just lands in people, you don’t argue with it, it’s there’s something in the nature of that language that it has a different effect.
More recently, Joy Harjo who’s now our Poet Laureate said to me, “poetry points at what is beyond words. But we use words to get there”, and that there is a real mystery to poetry that so that’s just a little bit of how that has you know after seeing, I felt like what people.
Poetry so old, it’s so much been a part of human society and spiritual life forever, what I what I felt when we put that Elizabeth Alexander show on the air is that people have been starved for this, even that I had been starved for it, we didn’t even know it, because we’d unlearned it.
Eboo: Yeah, I mean, I just, I can’t help but share a couple stories in response to that. One is, you will frequently quote the Elizabeth Alexander line, “are we not of interest to each other”.
I love that line because it’s this like, it’s, it’s like a. It’s like an eight-year-old saying, but mommy, aren’t you curious about that? like, you know,
Krista: What’s interesting, Eboo is it’s completely different than, can we all get along, can’t we all just get along, like that’s a facile question that leads to a facile discussion. But are we not of interest to each other?, a question asked by way of poetry, is something you just have to stand reverently before.
Eboo: Yeah. Yes, totally. I get to that is a great juxtaposition right, can we all just get along, to, are we not of interest to each other. And even that it is impossible to even say those are the same tone. Right exactly like that, the string of words forces a whole different tone and a different posture. Now I wanted to say something from Islam that there are all of the stories of.
I mean, the probably the most famous one is, Omar, who is dead set against the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, and the early companions. And is actually on the hunt to kill him, looking around Mecca. And he hears this beautiful language, coming from a home. And he enters, he’s totally entranced, and somebody said, that’s the recitation of the Quran.
Right. And that’s the conversion of Omar, and Omar becomes one of the Caliphs, one of the prophet’s closest companions, and then one of the Rashidun, one of the rightly guided Caliphs. And so this isn’t to say that the Quran is only poetry, it’s revelation, but it is a revelation in the form of poetry that is meant to be beautiful. Right, yeah there’s a beautiful line in Islam that God is beautiful and loves beauty.
Krista: Beauty is a core moral value. That is a, that is a gift to me from Islam.
Eboo: Yeah, yeah. Right, right. And if the only thing you paid attention to was the first two minutes of the evening news, on any subject from, from the city of Chicago to the tradition of Islam, to the Catholic Church, all you know was the ugliness.
Krista: Yeah, right. If not just and not just the story of religion and, you know, I believe that we possess all the intelligence we need. Each of us in our lives, real practical intelligence about things like love and forgiveness and how do you how do you work with difference. We, we, we’ve walked those paths every day in our private lives. We also, most of us, most of the time, there’s beauty in our lives that you just stumble across just being alive, there’s quiet. Goodness, all over the place. And somehow we’ve gotten into this terrible place where we were fixated on this official narrative and we don’t take seriously what we know in our lives.
Eboo: Yeah. Right. Right. There’s a you know, back to Islam for a moment. The Quran consistently describes itself as a reminder, right. And it’s not just a reminder of continuous revelation. It is also a reminder of what the Quran calls “taqwa”, inner torch which is basically, God has given you this. Now he’s saying it, great, but it’s already in you, and in actually in reading or hearing the Quran, you should, it should basically be an on switch to a light inside you, but this is in ypu, it’s in you.
Right. And this this notion that we are were made for great were made for great goodness, that was my re-conversion experience, that we are made for great goodness, you can feel it inside you and, and there are bodies of literature and narratives and traditions that will remind you of that, but it is, it’s not external its internal.
You know, I want okay I got two more big questions for you, at least. So, because you and I have known each other for a long time. I know that amongst your many kairos moments is being ringside for the fall of the Berlin Wall, which actually happens on my birthday, November 9, 1989 so overnight.
Krista: Your birthday? My birthday is November 9th.
Eboo: Shut up.
Krista: This, I can’t believe we never knew this, I thought the Berlin Wall fell on my birthday for me, so you’ve just kind of taken that away from me.
Eboo: so break out the kazoos
Krista: I know, amazing, Wow, yeah okay well okay it fell on my 29th birthday, which birthday was it for you?
Eboo: Ah, I wasn’t the 29th. I was, in any case, yeah.
That’s the first way you described the journey. Right, I don’t know is that that was before Yale?
Krista: Oh yeah, no I went to Divinity School after this.
Eboo: Yeah, but you’re kind of working in journalism and diplomacy, you’re much closer to the political process, and you see, and you witness this, and it’s a massive structural and a revolution of the heart, and actually there’s like a prosaic-ness to it right, like the way it actually happens is, soldiers that have. Go ahead.
Krista: Well no, it was this bumbling bureaucrat, I mean there was a lot of, first of all, I wasn’t in Berlin, the day the wall came down but I was in Berlin for the seven years before it came down. So, I experienced a world that I had known, I experienced the world shifting on its axis in a way that I never expected to experience again and I kind of feel like, 2020 felt like that again. It’s, you know, it’s not having realized what was possible, even being so close to it.
But yeah, it was, I mean there was so much fluidity. There was chaos, things were shifting, but nobody imagined. Nobody, nobody imagined that the wall would fall in our lifetime still in 1989, but it was like 10 pm at night, and the head of the, of the press corps in Berlin, who I knew, this bureaucrat, this party member. He made an announcement which he kind of botched. It was confusing, he said that, East German citizens would be able to apply for passports. But what people heard was that they, that the world was opening up, and what I think in terms of the human dimension, is fear fell away. And what happened is that the entire city stepped out of their living rooms and onto the streets and walked towards the wall.
And, you know, it had never occurred to anybody that if the entire city walked towards the wall, it would be over. Right. And, you know, the border guards protested for about 10 minutes and then they joined them. And so it was, and the whole geopolitical world shifted on its axis. And to me, what that planted in me that is so alive in me now, is it is that at any given moment there is more possibility, then we can begin to imagine. And I live with that.
Eboo: So, I just want to nudge one step further, right. What else have you seen in the 32 years since that moment. Right. That has felt like the world shifting on its axis and the wisdom that you have extracted along the lines of, there’s more possibility in a given moment than is apparent to the naked eye.
Krista: Yeah. Well, to me, 2020 has been another experience of that, and it’s not just the pandemic. To me, it’s, it’s how the pandemic. It’s also I live in Minneapolis now. I felt like I was on another fault line, last year, when George Florida was killed, and what I see when I look at, you know, to me it’s, it’s that death, coming as, you know, civilizationally we had felt through the ground beneath our feet, there, there was a softening.
There was what I would say, a recall, a reminder, we were recalled to reality. Right, which in fact is always that the companies are seeing is never as solid as we believe it to be that things can shift in an incident. And that, that death, that murder, is not something that had never happened before and it’s actually not something that has not happened since.
But hearts were softened.
And I believe so strongly that that was not a liberal or progressive softening of the heart right, I think across our society people were opened and saw something, you know, about ourselves, about a gap between this world we think we live in, and the world; that is, the country that we want to be and the country that we are.
And, so to me, you know, and now here we are, also at that point, whenever last March April May June, we, we never would have imagined that we would we would be talking here in June and the world would just be opening up, and in fact, not the whole world, you know, this particular part of the world we live in.
To me, the work, so now we have, we have healing to do, we have grieving to do. We really need to allow our full humanity and in a way that our culture’s not good at. And this is another manifestation of that thing you were talking about, about how we just only deal with parts of ourselves in public.
But this work ahead of us, to become whole. Right. To tell the truth, which is also a core religious value, and to create a world that we want all of our children to inhabit, to walk alongside each other, to learn, to grow, to become more fluent in our humanity.
You know I just feel like, what I’m saying is not something that everybody would say, but I think enough of us are feeling this thing and asking what they can do and how we can be of service.
And to me that does feel again like the world shifting on its axis.
Eboo: Yeah so, you have allowed me to ask some version of this question.
I know that you’re working on, working on a manuscript that was tentatively titled Letters to a Young Activist maybe? Insights from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Brutal Murder of George Floyd right? The kind of book end, world shifting on its axis that that you have been a witness to, and then, and a nudge in a positive way. What, what’s the heartbeat of that manuscript, whatever form it might take, what’s the heartbeat of it?
Krista: Well as you as you pointed to I haven’t, I haven’t finished that book and this, this hasn’t been the year for me but I’ve done so much thinking about it. I mean I think one of the reasons I shifted it, and one of the reasons I became uncertain about the title, is because I do believe that the work ahead of us is, what we really want, is transformation now not just change right? Change can be good, bad or indifferent. We have a lot of change right now that’s, that’s not desired, not good for us.
But we, we do need transformation.
And that is generational in scope and I’m so, you know the cross generational friendship and the exchange of the kinds, of different kinds of wisdom that we have at different stages in life, and just my calling as an elder now to walk alongside the young generation is really important to me, is hugely important to me, you know, the notion of accompaniment. And at the same time, what I realized is, I feel like we are all young citizens now, like I really, I really also think about this generation in time. I think this is a species moment.
I mean, that’s another way for me to talk about what we’ve just, what 2020 represented, where it is testing the mettle of who we are as a species.
It is calling us forth to rise to the best of our humanity. If we don’t, I think, you know, another way to say it is I think that the questions I’ve been pursuing in my work these years are, are the ancient, enduring human questions, and they’re also the questions that gave rise to all of our great traditions, what does it mean to be human, how do we want to live, and who will we be to each other in this century?
If we don’t walk towards that question of who we will be to each other generatively, you know, we may survive as a species but we will not flourish, but I actually do think we have the possibility of a new kind of wholeness. I think we have tools from science.
As you know, we have all kinds of intelligence. We need to bring our spiritual intelligence into that too. I think we have tools for becoming whole in a way that previous generations of our species did not.
Eboo: Danielle Allen, the great political theorist at Harvard, she says, E Pluribus Unum doesn’t really mean and the American context out of many one. It really means out of many wholeness, right, you don’t want one, you don’t want homogeneity, you want wholeness, right. We want wholeness, right. So, we have about two to a couple minutes here and I’m going to ask a counterintuitive question to the fact that I just said we have a couple minutes here so there’s one of the themes of the q and a that’s coming through is, how do you create time, and I actually want to I want to expand on a little bit right. So, so here’s what you’ve done, you’ve created a new format. And, and I want to ask you to just reflect on how?
How’d you do that, and here’s what I mean, right. So, do you remember when we first met at some coffee shop in St. Paul, and you walked in with, not with a manila folder full of clippings, that your staff had given you, but with 12 books.
Right, yeah. And I was like, what’s that, and you’re like this is preparation for my next, my next interview. And I had done enough media at that time, this is 2009 or something, I blurted out like “You read the books?!”, and it blew my mind, right? and I can imagine those early conversations you had with the people in public radio, who by the way must have been like, if any radio station or any Radio Network, the best people to have this conversation, but still you were like we’re going to do religion and spirituality for an hour, not on Christian radio, but on public radio, and we’re not going to take pitches, and I’m going to delve really deep and the answers are going to be long, and we’re going to do this week after week, and America is going to pay attention, right. You created a new format.
How’d you do that?
Krista: I, you know, I had been a print journalist and I had a great experience and I learned such good skills and I knew that that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.
And then I went and I did this diplomacy, and I went to Divinity School. And I didn’t have any, I just came out of Divinity School. Still with the sensibilities of a journalist, and was just so dissatisfied, right there was this black hole where we could have been talking about the things that really matter.
We could have been integrating the different kinds of intelligence we have including the intelligence in our religious traditions. We could have been talking about what things mean and you know questions of moral imagination so not just what and when and how much but why and what human purpose, and how much is enough?
In the beginning, as you know, I was really focused on how we had just completely diminished, you know, the religious conversation in our midst and the idea of who religious people were and what they stood for and how they spoke had just become this caricature.
And I was just, you know, really dissatisfied with that. But it opened up into a larger dissatisfaction of why can’t we talk about the things that we most long to be throwing our lives at?
So, I don’t know, you know, it, it sounds, I mean it’s so wonderful to hear you say that. To me, when I look back, it was just kind of one step after the other and a lot of fighting and I had to use my elbows inside these big organizations.
And there were more skeptics and they were believers. And, you know, it’s still a work in progress.
Eboo: I’m grateful for our friendship. We are all works in progress. And part of what you do, Krista, with your show is give us a window into the human condition’s work in progress and you invite us to participate in that. So thank you, and I’m grateful for you, and I feel a lot of love in my heart for our friendship.
Krista: You too, friend, right back atcha.