Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good God Talk

You may have found as I have that it is not easy to locate thoughtful discussion of religion that transcends the cultural shouting matches between secularists and fundamentalists. If so, I wanted to recommend a couple of places where you can experience intelligent people saying intelligent things about religion. The first is the radio program "Speaking of Faith". Here's some information about the program:

"Winner of a Peabody Award, Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett is public radio's weekly program about "religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas." We are produced and distributed by American Public Media and currently heard on over 200 public radio stations across the U.S. and globally via the Web and podcast.

Krista takes a narrative, or first-person, approach to religious and philosophical conversation. She draws out the intersection of theology and human experience, of grand religious ideas and real life. A weekly national program since July 2001, Speaking of Faith is not so much about religion per se, but about drawing out compelling and challenging voices of wisdom on the most important subjects of 21st-century life; thereby creating a different kind of in-depth, revealing, illuminating dialogue than can be elicited by traditional journalistic treatments and debates. Topics range from "Einstein and the Mind of God" to "The Spirituality of Parenting" to "Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century."

We take the art and craft of radio seriously; and we see radio as an exceptional medium for probing the intellectual and spiritual depths of religious ideas and experience.

We see our online platforms as central to what we do, and are constantly pursuing ways we can expand our content, offer resources, and interact with listeners in new ways via journalism's fastest-growing medium. Our guests include theologians and scientists, poets and parents, educators and physicians — both religious and non-religious — and our program listener demographic is correspondingly diverse.

We're proud that the Columbia Journalism Review has credited the show with modeling a new paradigm of journalism about religion. And New York's Jewish Week has called Speaking of Faith "the most intelligent and inquisitive program on religion anywhere on the air." Most importantly, we take delight in the ideas, reactions, and correspondence we receive every day from listeners across the spectrum of belief and around the world."

Another cool place to hear good God talk that I recently stumbled across is Faith Complex. Here is some information about the inaugural of this new initiative in religion related discourse:

"Today marks the launch of Faith Complex--a show about the collision of religion, politics and art. Faith Complex is a joint production of Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Program for Jewish Civilization. We are delighted to be teaming up again with our old ale-house cronies at the Washington Post "On Faith" page.

Today we invite you to view Part I of our interview with Asra Nomani, entitled "A Bad Girl of Islam." This is the prelude to Part II, "Take Back Your Mosque!," which airs this Friday.

Over the next few weeks you will learn a lot about our intellectual turn-ons. You know, pretty standard stuff: heresy, groovy theologians, literature, foreign policy, music, Disestablishment, Beltway intrigue, Wars of Ideas, long walks in the rain, and antiquing for mid-century modern furniture with that Special Someone.

We are just getting started and trying to better understand that emerging genre known as Short Interview Videos Geared To Web Audiences. There is a lot we don't yet understand about the idiom (For example: how many people a year commit suicide in post-production studios?). But at least we are amusing ourselves as we figure it all out.

Much of the fun is generated by our guests. Ms. Nomani is the central protagonist in the forthcoming documentary, "The Mosque in Morgantown," which will be shown on PBS, June 15th. It's a fascinating, sober and visually compelling portrait of an American-Muslim community grappling (rather earnestly, I would say) with its own burgeoning pluralism.

In person, Ms. Nomani is every bit as intelligent, intense and witty as she is on film. Having spent the first half of my scholarly career writing about heretics, let me assure you that she is the real deal!"