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Lecture Series speaker Tippett addresses spirituality, science in the modern world

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 01:01

In the third part of the Miami University Lecture Series, journalist Krista Tippett spoke about spirituality in the modern world yesterday.

Tippett wrote for The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Newsweek and the BBC, among other news outlets, and worked as a special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to West Germany in the 1980s. She has also written two books: Speaking of Faith (2007) and Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit (2010). The books address the broad themes of science, religion and spirituality. Tippett’s weekly radio program, ‘On Being,’ covers similar topics and has won a Peabody and two Webby Awards. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Brown University and a master’s degree in divinity from Yale University.

Tippett spoke about the challenges the media faces when covering religious topics.

“What religious people have often done in order to be heard is skew their message and squeeze what they have to say into these political boxes,” Tippett said. “I think what’s very dangerous about that is both the spiritual and intellectual content of these ideas can be lost.”

Tippett said while current news coverage of religious topics has improved in the last decade, the media still has room for improvement in the way it approaches religious topics.

“There’s a bias that goes a long way back among a lot of really smart good people in journalism that this just doesn’t belong in news and it’s not as rational or as easy to be objective about as other things,” Tippett said. “I think they’re right that it’s tricky, but I think there’s a problem with saying our economic lives or our political lives are more rational … it is hard to cover it and to know how to cover it but it’s important enough … that we have to innovate ways to cover it and we have to be innovative about that.”

Tippett lived in Germany for five years as a journalist and said she saw a very different view of spirituality and religion in European society. She said there was a fundamental difference in the collective values of Europeans who often pay high taxes for social safety nets.

Tippett said she believes the separation of church and state in the U.S. has actually led to a more vibrant religious society than it might have been otherwise.

“The institutions of religion are experiencing the same kind of implosions that all of our institutions are experiencing,” Tippett said. “50 years from now I don’t think our workplaces will look like they do now, I don’t think our education systems will look like they do now and I don’t think our churches will look like they do now.”

One of the fundamental places Tippett said she sees change is within American youth. This youth places emphasis on service, but not service with a religious affiliation.

The final speaker in the Lecture Series is Neil deGrasse Tyson who will present, “Science As A Way of Knowing,” April 8.

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