Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett

A recent discussion on Radio 4’s “All in the Mind” programme concerned wisdom. Is wisdom a state of mind or a trait? The podcast is at A central topic in philosophy and religion, obviously, there always seem to be new ‘takes’ on what actually constitutes wisdom. It reminded me what a rich vein of reading is available on the topic. One of the recent publications is Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett. (

In a thoughtful chronicle of spiritual discovery, Tippett draws on conversations with poets, scientists, theologians, and other seekers. 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. Our world, she maintains, ‘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. 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.’

It’s refreshing to read about the human potential for enlightenment.

As a seeker of enlightenment you may enquire at your local library or consult  for further bibliographic detail.

304 pages in Corsair

First published 2016

ISBN  978-1472152206

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Krista Tippett

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