Friday, April 02, 2010

What they taught was simply an expression of who they were...

As Dormgrandpop readers know, I am an avid listener to the American Public Radio broadcast, ‘Speaking of Faith’ ( podcasts This is especially true in Singapore, since a don’t have a radio and have pretty much forgone television viewing. The following is a note I wrote this morning to the program’s producers.

My contact with Speaking of Faith is through podcasts, almost always the ‘unedited cuts.’ I value the expansion of mind and soul they evoke, during a very intense period of research in Singapore requiring focus and discipline. Your podcasts are companions as I carry out the routine tasks of life - cooking, dishwashing, folding laundry and housecleaning early in the morning and late in the evening, after returning from work.

Because I listen to so many, I have become conscious of a qualitative difference that seemed worth sharing. It began as I noted the cuts I returned to for a first, second and even third listening: Jean Vanier, Katy Payne, Matheu Richard Jaqueline Novogratz, Kate Braestrup and my all-time favorite, the late Joe Carter. My reactions to two of your most recent interviews - with Michael McCollogh and Robert Wright were very different. They seemed like smart, self-confident guys, like many of my academic colleagues, (probably me as well) who thought they knew all - or most - of the answers, which members of the listening audience probably did not.

Reflection lead to greater insight into what I was experiencing. Those interviewees whom I listed first were sharing ideas based on life experiences. Their ideas and lives were, essentially one and the same. With McCollogh and Wright, there was no obvious connection between what they thought and how they lived. Matheu Ricard captured my point beautifully in describing differences between the intellectuals who gathered at his father’s home in France and the Buddhist monks with whom he studied in India. Many of the former group were brilliant but were neither very nice, nor very happy men and women. His Buddhist teachers however, were the same human beings twenty-four hours each day with whomever they encountered. What they taught was simply an expression of who they were.

There may be a lesson in this for those of us in the teaching profession.

Here are the names of the interviewees and the titles of their podcasts mentioned above.

Michael McCullogh - Getting Revenge and Forgiveness,

Robert Wright, The Evolution of God

Katy Payne, Whale Songs and Elephant Loves

Jaqueline Novogratz, A Different Kind of Capitalism - The Reinvention of Aid

Jean Vanier, The Wisdom of Tenderness

Mattheu Ricard, The Happiest Man in the World

Kate Braestrup, Presence in the Wild

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