Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living (New York, Penguin Press, 2016) pp.288
After spending a decade exploring questions of faith, science, art, and spirituality in her national public radio program and podcast, "On Being," Krista Tippett has distilled her insights on wisdom into an elegant and searching new memoir. Becoming Wise is far more than a compilation of the radio interviews that have won her both a Peabody Award and a National Humanities Medal. Instead, the transcribed interviews (with luminaries such as Jean Vanier, Eve Ensler, Elizabeth Alexander, Pico Iyer, and Christian Wiman) form a basic structure, around which Tippett weaves her own meditations on the five "raw materials" of wise living: words, flesh, love, faith, and hope.
Tippett does an impressive job of braiding many voices into a coherent whole, while also sharing her own story: her religious Oklahoma upbringing, her early years as a journalist in divided Cold War Germany, her decision to attend Yale Divinity School, and — of course — her rich experiences of "listening for a living." In Becoming Wise, she tackles the big questions. What is wisdom? What roles can faith and love play in the healing of our public life? What does it really mean to listen? How is technology shaping us, for good and for ill? What does "muscular" hope look like? What does it mean to live an embodied life?
Though Tippett never flinches from the hard complexities underlying these questions, she offers a refreshingly hopeful vision for human flourishing in this century. Her insights are neither tepid nor abstract. They are, rather, a testimony to the very real wisdom a lifetime of "generous listening" can instill.