Can curiosity and good questions heal our divides? Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast (with 53 million annual downloads) says yes.

By Timothy Meinch
Krista Tippett. Photo by Chris Daniels

Broadcasting Respect Reflecting on today's cultural climate, Krista Tippett says, "Division is not a big enough word." The Minneapolis-based author and journalist knows what a country divided looks like. She lived in Cold War Berlin as a stringer for The New York Times and later, as a diplomat, before pursuing a master's of divinity. In 2003, her show, Speaking of Faith, launched on National Public Radio stations. A decade later, it morphed into The On Being Project, a nonprofit that elevates healthy dialogue "to renew inner life, outer life and life together."

Photo by Chris Daniels

Divided We Can For her weekly On Being podcast (also on 400 public radio stations), Krista talks to artists, theologians and other thinkers. Past guests include Maya Angelou, Yo-Yo Ma and Elizabeth Gilbert. In the wake of polarizing elections, annual downloads have surged from 6 million in 2013 to 53 million. She says generous questions and a long chat model the human connection we all seek: "With real conversation and listening, the goal is not to convert the other. Things that divide us can stop defining what's possible between us."

Photo: Bethany Birnie

Look in, then act out Fifteen years of conversation (and one National Humanities Medal from President Obama) later, Krista says she's learned that no matter your faith, "nurturing your interior life and creating a place of quiet is necessary." She suggests limiting news intake, finding a prayer or contemplative practice, then engaging with local community: "The big changes are not happening in the halls of Congress."

Start talking

At onbeing.org/civil-conversations-project, you'll find Krista's pdf guides to starting intentional conversation that can help build bridges anywhere-at work, at school, at church or simply around the family table.

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