Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

by Krista Tippett
     
 

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From the bestselling author and host of NPR's On Being comes a master class in living drawn from the inspiring stories of extraordinary individuals who possess what she calls "spiritual genius"

Over the fifteen years that Krista Tippett has hosted her award-winning and nationally beloved radio program on NPR, first under the title Speaking of

Overview

From the bestselling author and host of NPR's On Being comes a master class in living drawn from the inspiring stories of extraordinary individuals who possess what she calls "spiritual genius"

Over the fifteen years that Krista Tippett has hosted her award-winning and nationally beloved radio program on NPR, first under the title Speaking of Faith and then as On Being, the heart of her work has been to shine a light on the most extraordinary people at work on the big issues and questions of the day, people whose missions kindle in us a sense of wonder. Scientists in a variety of fields; theologians from a number of faiths; poets, activists, and many others have all opened themselves up to Tippett's compassionate but searching conversation.

In Becoming Wise, Tippett distills the insights she has gleaned from these luminous characters about the meaning of life in its many dimensions into a coherent narrative journey, over time and from mind to mind, that explores what it means to be human. The book is a master class in living, curated by Tippett but presided over by a delightfully ecumenical dream team of a teaching faculty. The art of living can mean many things to many different people. The questions most of us are asking ourselves today are intimate and civilizational all at once—definitions of when life begins and when death happens; the meaning of marriage and family; the human relationship to the natural world; our relationships to technology and through technology: how then shall we live? Tippett's great gift, in her work and in Becoming Wise, is to avoid reductive simplifications but still find the golden threads that weave people and ideas together into a shimmering braid.

One powerful common denominator of the lessons imparted to Tippett is the gift of presence, of the exhilaration of engagement with life for its own sake, not as a means to an end. Called enlightenment, called transcendence, often called nothing because it is beyond language, it is a state whose gifts can be described in many ways—nourishing, edifying, redemptive—as can its celebrants: courageous, tender, adventurous, curious. But presence does not mean passivity or acceptance of the status quo. Indeed Tippett's teachers are people whose work meets, and often drives, some of the most powerful forces of change alive in the world today. In the end, perhaps the greatest blessing conveyed by the lessons of spiritual genius Tippett harvests in Becoming Wise is the strength to meet the world where it really is, and then to make it even better.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/07/2016
Artful listening is Tippett's (Einstein's God) trademark. Her mellifluous voice, adored by listeners of her radio program and podcast On Being, floats off the pages of this deftly woven collection of interviews. For over a decade, Tippett has interviewed "geniuses in the art of living": scientists, philosophers, poets, playwrights, theologians—anyone who delves deeply into what it means to be human. "I love the deep savvy about hope that religion tends," she writes, "its reverence for the undervalued virtue of beauty, its seriousness about the common human experience of mystery. Our spiritual lives are where we reckon head-on with the mystery of ourselves, and the mystery of each other." But this is not just a selection of greatest hits. Instead, rooted in Tippett's own keen insight, she provides an interlocking frame based on five themes: words, the body, love, faith, and hope. With dips into Tippett's childhood and early career, readers are embraced by her own struggle, vulnerability, and thirst for meaning. As researcher and TED-talk phenom Brené Brown told Tippett, "Hope is a function of struggle." Tippett's striving here is the grist for creative genius. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
2016-01-26
Five key words serve as guideposts in a search for wisdom. In a thoughtful chronicle of spiritual discovery, Peabody Award-winning broadcaster Tippett (Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, 2010, etc.), host of NPR's On Being, draws on conversations with poets, scientists, theologians, and other seekers of truth. The author focuses on five concepts—words, flesh, love, faith, and hope—that she identifies as "raw materials" for the "superstar virtues" of "love, compassion [and] forgiveness." Those virtues are undermined, she writes, by public discourse that "inclines toward despair," fueled by journalism exposing only "what is inadequate, corrupt, catastrophic, and failing." "Our world," she counters, "is abundant with quiet, hidden lives of beauty and courage and goodness." Tippett advocates "generous listening," which she describes as "a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity" in order to generate salient questions that may elicit "honesty and eloquence." Throughout the book, Tippett offers excerpts from dialogues with a wide range of people: the playwright and social activist Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues, who has encouraged women to "tell the stories of their lives through the stories of their bodies"; philosopher and humanitarian Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche movement, a series of communities where able-bodied and mentally disabled people live together as equals; Elizabeth Alexander, who wrote Barack Obama's inaugural poem, invoking "love into a political moment, into a public space"; congressman John Lewis, who described the civil rights community as "a circle of trust"; travel writer, essayist, and novelist Pico Iyer, who has embarked on a "great adventure of the inner world." Spirituality, says Iyer, is "the story of our passionate affair with what is deepest inside us," while religion "is the community, the framework, the tradition, all the other people into which we bring what we find in solitude." A hopeful consideration of the human potential for enlightenment.
From the Publisher
“If you measure the worth of a book by the volume of scribbles you pen in the margins, the stars emphatically drawn, and the sentences underlined, Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living— a compendium of wisdom, at once intimate and expansive—stands a serious shot of emerging both splattered and cherished. Tippett, the Peabody Award-winning radio host and National Humanities Medalist, is a master of what she terms ‘generous listening,’ an act ‘powered by curiosity,’ and a ‘willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity.’”  —Chicago Tribune

“Most of us can only dream of the dinner parties Krista Tippett could put together. We're lucky, then, that her new book is the next best thing to an invitation to sit down, make ourselves at home and prepare for a mind-expanding exploration of what it means to be human... Not light reading, but inspiring reading, for those willing to pull up a chair.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune 

“ ‘Becoming Wise’ challenges all forms of dogma, in science, politics and philosophy as well as religion, and it affirms the holiness of the body and the glory of the inquiring mind. While our dominant media suggest that humans are incorrigibly selfish and greedy and cruel, Tippett and her conversation partners demonstrate that the longing to lead a good life, a moral life, remains powerful and pervasive in our day….”—Washington Post

“This is not just a selection of greatest hits. Instead, rooted in Tippett's own keen insight, she provides an interlocking frame based on five themes: words, the body, love, faith, and hope. With dips into Tippett's childhood and early career, readers are embraced by her own struggle, vulnerability, and thirst for meaning. As researcher and TED-talk phenom Brené Brown told Tippett, ‘Hope is a function of struggle.’ Tippett's striving here is the grist for creative genius.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“A thoughtful examination of what it means to be fully human and aware, open eyed in the face of “the darkness that is woven ineluctably into the light of life.” — Shepherd Express 

“We need Krista Tippett’s voice and wisdom now more than ever. She has elevated the art of listening and the practice of being present in a way that is both accessible and soulful. Becoming Wise is what I’ve been waiting for from Krista - the opportunity to learn from her and her experiences. This is brilliant thinking, beautiful storytelling, and practical insight. You won’t forget what you read here.”  -Brené Brown, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Rising Strong
  
“Krista Tippett’s ecumenical generosity speaks both to high moral standards and to diverse ways of conceptualizing and achieving them. Her trade has been listening, and from that listening has emerged a deep understanding of the mind and the heart and the curious bridges between them.  This is a book about kindness and forgiveness and the insight that is contingent on abandoning monolithic paradigms. Becoming Wise is an ambitious title, but in culling the wisdom of others, Tippett achieves a distinct and lovely wisdom of her own.”- Andrew Solomon

“A thoughtful chronicle of spiritual discovery. A hopeful consideration of the human potential for enlightenment.”—Kirkus Reviews 

“I am a great admirer of Krista Tippett, who has spent years using her mind as a gentle but probing research tool into the beautiful, perilous, mysterious realm of the human soul. With this book, she has gathered all her years of learning and listening to create a masterpiece of philosophical and spiritual reflection. About halfway through the book, I stopped flagging pages and highlighting passages when I realized I was highlighting nearly every word. This entire book is filled with things I never want to forget. The only remedy will be to keep it near me, always.”—Elizabeth Gilbert

“After over a decade doing in-depth interviews and accumulating spiritual knowledge on her popular podcast On Being, Tippett pulls from that well of conversations to reconstruct her trail of investigation into the nature of wisdom. She tells her own life journey—her Oklahoma upbringing, her wide-eyed years in divided Cold War Germany, her decision to attend Yale divinity school—alongside the spiritual evolution that came while hosting the podcast. Pulling together and going beyond the accumulated knowledge of her interviews, Tippett's book is an incantatory trip into the paradoxical and profound.”—Publishers Weekly (staff pick) 

“Krista Tippett has tirelessly reminded us of the perennial challenge, depth and complexity of the spiritual quest. At this pivotal moment in history, when on all sides religion is being so flagrantly abused, this marvellous book will inspire, excite and reinvigorate the reader.”—Karen Armstrong

“Krista Tippett is one of America’s ablest listeners, and in this book she assembles many of the people she has listened to and uses their example, and her own, to show us how many surprising and idiosyncratic paths still remain towards what even the most secular among us can agree should still be called enlightenment.”—Adam Gopnik

“When President Obama gave Krista Tippett the coveted National Humanities Medal, he praised her for ‘thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.’ This book is yet another piece of evidence of the truth behind those words. Grounded in Tippett’s ‘life of conversation,’ the book offers more, much more than a chronicle of her award-winning public radio program, On Being. In Becoming Wise, Tippett not only gives us the voices of the remarkable people with whom she’s conversed on-air. She speaks her own voice as well, a voice informed by her lifelong search for truth and meaning. Wisdom is a communal creation. Tippett is rare in her ability to host a far-flung community of luminaries, listeners and readers, who together uncover the wisdom that lies within and between us.”Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Let Your Life Speak

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594206801
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/05/2016
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
11,217
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for "thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence." She is the host of the public radio program and podcast On Being.

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