A space station floating

Artwork by Daniel Bruson / All Rights Reserved

Dear friends,

When working in conflict resolution I was often struck by how one person in a conflict is desperately pleading with another to take a new perspective. Look at it like this, they might say. And for some reason — or a hundred reasons — their appeal might fail. 

In a time of crisis, new perspectives are often forced upon us. Many described such changes in light of the Covid pandemic — that the restrictions caused new appreciations of value; or new practices of time with loved ones; or amendments to unnecessary travel when Zoom would do. Obviously, Covid wasn’t unique in enforcing new perspectives: at times of bereavement, we often find ourselves looking back on what came before — an argument, an estrangement — imagining the point of view that bereavement brings onto the past. Right now, too, as war ravages Ukraine, new perspectives are both enacted and yearned for: enacted in Ukrainian and global shows of solidarity; yearned for as many wish that the aggressors — and supporters — of war would cease their ways. The imposition of sanctions, to name but one intervention, is an attempt at enforcing a new point of view, without escalating violence or meeting fire with fire. 

Astronauts speak of the “overview effect” — what happens when you see planet earth from space. This wisdom didn’t come as a surprise. In 1948, Fred Hoyle, an English astronomer, wrote: “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” A new idea: something that trains our energy and attention on wonder not wounding; on awe, not war. 

Our On Being interview this week is a re-airing of Krista’s magnificent conversation with the esteemed astrophysicist Mario Livio, who spent 24 years working at the Space Telescope Science Institute of the Hubble Telescope. He, too, speaks about the seismic shifts in human perspective when something new is discovered: how Copernicus undid the idea of the earth being at the center of the Universe, and how later it became known that our solar system isn’t even at the center of the galaxy. Speaking about the Hubble images, he says they “do something that is in some sense even more than a work of art, because on the one hand they are extraordinarily beautiful, and at the same time, people realize that this is something real that exists out there.” 

It is such beholding to wonderment — through the language of physics and mathematics — that enlivens the imagination of Mario Livio. He and Krista talk about how the languages of art, science, and wonder open the human condition up to the magnitude of the fact that we are here at all. Mario isn’t interested in reflecting a synthesis of science and art and religion. For him, the study of mathematics is what enthralls. His book Is God a Mathematician? is less interested in the question of God — or God’s profession — than it is in amplifying the power of mathematics to explain the universe. However, he isn’t dismissive of the dialogue between science, art, and religion either: “They all stem from this sense of wonder.” 

Friends, in all the events of your week, we wish you the perspective that will expand your world — your universe — in order to continue the work of wonder. In all your conflicts — and those of the world — we join with you in hoping, and working, for war to give way to what is flourishing, expansive, and protective.


Beir bua,

Pádraig Ó Tuama
host of Poetry Unbound


Tune in


On Being with Krista Tippett
Mario Livio
"Mathematics, Mystery, and the Universe"

Dark energy and white dwarf stars. The Hubble telescope. The emergence of life. “Is God a mathematician?

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Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing

6pm CT / 7pm ET

Virtual Event

For the first time, this beloved and biennial gathering is fully virtual. Register to attend a lively array of conversations between readers and writers, March 21-24. Krista interviews the journalist and lawyer Min Jin Lee, author of two widely-acclaimed books, Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko.





Company of Grace 2022

7pm CT / 8pm ET

Virtual Event

Join an evening of dialogue with Krista and the Ignatian Spirituality Project, exploring the cannonballs and crossroads in our lives, what recovery looks like, and the role of companions along the road. Register and tune in to this annual event.





This Here Flesh

4pm CT / 5pm ET

Virtual Event

Krista joins Cole Arthur Riley for a conversation on spirituality and liberation, hosted by our Minneapolis neighbors, Moon Palace Books and New City Church. Cole Arthur Riley is author of This Here Flesh, and creator of “Black Liturgies,” a space for Black spiritual words of liberation, lament, rage, and rest. She serves as Executive Curator of The Center for Dignity and Contemplation.



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