I’ve learned so much from the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett. The weekly show collects insights from some of the most interesting artists, writers, mathematicians, and more. Started in 2003 as a radio show, the project has grown exponentially over the last few years into one of the premier and popular religion, spirituality, and morality podcasts available to listeners worldwide.
Even wider-reaching, On Being is now a larger project that includes other podcasts, such as This Movie Changed Me, Poetry Unbound with Pádraig Ó Tuama, and other outreaches like their Civil Conversations and Social Healing projects.
It’s a project with an ambitious mission that only seems to be growing. Here’s what I appreciate about the way Tippett and her unique guests answer the question: what does it mean to be human?
To look at the world with kaleidoscopic eyes
In the On Being podcast, Tippett interviews a different guest on the show to discuss their research, life, and more over the course of about an hour each week. Tippett’s empathetic and curious nature speaks to her personal journey: Previously a journalist and diplomat in Cold War Berlin, she went on to earn her Master’s of Divinity degree at Yale University, which led her to speak and write about the deepest questions of human existence.
Tippett is someone I like to describe as a kaleidoscopic person: someone who has journeyed around the world, created beauty, and discovered what it means to be human through a variety of lenses that come from many curious experiences.
“The Tippett style represents a fusion of all her parts; the child of small-town church comfortable in the pews; the product of Yale Divinity School able to parse text in Greek and theology in German; and, perhaps most of all, the diplomat seeking to resolve social divisions,” wrote New York Times author Samuel Freedman.
To listen & find peace in the collective journey
Drawing on the wisdom of her own experiences (though she rarely speaks about herself), Tippet speaks with fellow “kaleidoscopic” people who have so much to share with the world. While not all of the episodes resonate with my own view of the world or our Catholic tradition, the poetry is beautiful, the mathematics are complex, and the desire of people to connect with one another is so strong in each episode. Each time I listen, I am reminded that others, too, struggle and find joy in coming to be who they are created to be.
Here are three of my favorite episodes if you’re looking for a place to start with this podcast:
“So when I started to toy with the idea of actually taking care of myself, it required me to get curious about myself, too — which, I didn’t know how to do that, but I knew that I wanted to figure it out.” —Alex Elle (her Instagram is beautiful, too!)
“A large part of that act of writing — whether it’s music or stories or poetry or drawing — a large part of it is listening.” —Joy Harjo
“Rest should be part of the simple rhythm of our day and of our week and of our year, in different ways. I don’t think we know what rest even is anymore, to be honest. I think we’ve lost track of that.” —Katherine May