Monday, January 07, 2008

Speaking of Faith

So...this Christmas, I received an I-pod as my big gift! Not only does this mean that I've finally entered 2005 (even though it is 2008), but also that I can download all those interesting radio shows that I've been meaning to listen to, but never get around to. After all...sitting at the computer late at night listening to a downloaded show just isn't fun. Yet with the I-pod, I get to listen while I hit the treadmill (maybe this will be a double bonus ... I might actually exercise more).

While tinkering with my new toy, I downloaded the Public Radio show Speaking of Faith. I've heard promotional spots for the show, and I've long been interested, but because timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance, I haven't had the chance to listen to it. Yet now I miss out no more. I can enjoy all the backlog of shows on my I-pod (please pardon a neophyte's enthusiasm).

And the show is unlike anything I've heard other than on the Mars Hill audio. Host Krista Tippett isn't all that interested in reporting on faith. Reporting on faith can be an exercise in dabbling in power and politics....for these are the stories that attract attention. Reporting on faith can strip your faith away for a time (see this article about the LA Times reporter who lost his faith).

Tippett is interested rather in talking intelligently about faith. She interviews interesting guests who are doing under-the-radar work...and she talks to them about the role that faith plays in their work. I listened to the interview with Douglas Johnston, whose International Center for Religion and Diplomacy is striving to accomplish diplomatic ends by working through religious groups and organizations -- and on that I was hooked.

Note that the show is pluralistic in nature....guests come from any number of traditions. The point is not to sharpen swords against each other, but rather to listen and speak of experiences of faith. Guests can speak from conviction and experience, rather than from the debate playbook of trying to score points. So don't expect a distinctly Christian, much less explicitly evangelical, perspective. However the series is refreshing because, unlike much media, it takes faith seriously, and not as an object of tabloid journalism. Well worth a listen.

Soli Deo Gloria