On Being “is a social enterprise with a radio show at heart.” (www.onbeing.org)

The programs on On Being were first recommended to me by philosophically and philanthropically minded friends. I enjoy listening to their podcasts because they are existential in nature. They take the initiative to ask the ancient and still controversial question, “What does it mean to be human?”

On December 7, 2017 guest speaker Adam Gopik, who writes for The New Yorker, was interviewed by Krista Tippet. Gopik wrote the Preface to The Good Book, a collection of modern day reflections on the Bible, all coming from different sources. Gopik’s grandfather was the first rabbi back in Lisbon since the Expulsion. His father’s first language was Yiddish.

In the interview, Gopik pointed out that our ancestors practiced faith while making room for doubt, while we do the opposite.

In his discussion of Darwin, Gopik indicated that Darwin thought he had found “the secret of life” while “nothing could explain the mysteries of living.” Tippet agreed, pointing out that these mysteries bring us to religion.

Gopik took the point a step further, in saying that religion brings practice, not dogma. His observation brought to mind Blaise Pascal’s Pensées because Pascal advocated faith through habitual practice rather than blind faith.

Gopik clearly emphasized that fundamentalism is “a betrayal of varieties” of what we know as modern religion. He identifies tolerance as “plate by plate” at “the common table” and calls for clarity in communication.

Interestingly, he observes that we are inspired by the people in religious stories. As someone who has studied and loves literature, I have to agree with him. As readers, we look for ways to identify with the people we find in the texts we come across, no matter the source.