UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Religion on NPR podcast

There’s a whole new universe to explore on national public radio

By Donna Sinclair

For exercise, I used to pound along the sidewalk with an ancient Walkman, rushing out of the house just in time to catch the evening rerun of Morningside. If I was late, I missed out; so I organized my life to catch as much of Peter Gzowski’s interviewing genius as I could.

But now, with podcasts, I can walk whenever I like, too lost in a world of ideas to worry about minutiae like unwritten letters or unweeded gardens.

In fact, I can weed while listening. Anytime. It is a revelation.

And there’s a whole new imaginative universe to explore on National Public Radio’s Religion podcast. Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith, for instance, is good for years of walking. Witness her piece on the Persian poet Rumi. Tippett — informed, interested and leisurely — interviews Iranian poet and Rumi scholar Fatemeh Keshavarz. The latter’s passionate discussion of the 13th-century Sufi (who enjoys a large following in the West) opens a window into mystical Islam that is as far from our images of jihad as it is possible to get.

Keshavarz reads beautifully, too. It’s a great way to spend 52 minutes: walking, listening to fine poems and meditating on Rumi’s vision that — says Keshavarz — “all humanity is pregnant with God.”

Hundreds of other interviews of similar length are available. Some subjects might be familiar to Observer readers: Robert Coles on children’s spirituality; Rabbi Sandy Sasso on the spirituality of parenting; Nobel Peace Prize laureate and biologist Wangari Maathai meditating on God and on her 20-country-strong Green Belt movement in a soft Kikuyu accent. Here is author Barbara Kingsolver on the ethics of eating; Mariane Pearl on terrorism, love and survival; and formidable but accessible scholar Karen Armstrong on freelance monotheism.

It’s marvellous to hear how they sound. Who’d have thought, for instance, that the author of The Poisonwood Bible would have a young voice? And should one tire of the sound of Tippett (unlikely, since she’s generous with her subjects’ voices), one could turn to the other podcasts offered through NPR. For example, Binah’s “creative voices from the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco” range from an interview with Edward Albee to a fascinating anecdotal discussion with composer Jake Heggie and choreographer Liz Lerman. “I don’t know how people tolerate living without rehearsals,” muses Lerman. “You get to make mistakes and fix things.” If only “Bush had rehearsed the Iraq war, he’d have seen he didn’t have an ending.”

Such thinking. All downloadable. It’s enough to give me a weed-free garden forever.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image