Joan Chittister

Joan Chittister is one of the most influential religious and social leaders of our time. For over 40 years she has advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues, and church renewal. A sought-after speaker and counselor, she is also the bestselling author of more than 50 books, hundreds of articles, and an online column for the National Catholic Reporter. She has received numerous writing awards and honors for her work, and is a noted international lecturer as well as a former elected fellow at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, England.
 
Sister Joan was the featured guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday in both 2015 and 2019. She has appeared on Meet the Press60 Minutes, CBS News, NOW with Bill Moyers, and numerous BBC and NPR programs.

Author photo © Ed Bernik

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with Tara Brach: 
Presence and Perpetual Goodnes >>

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Joan Chittister: Presence and Perpetual Goodness

Sister Joan Chittister is an American theologian, Benedictine nun, and the author of more than 50 books. For over 40 years, she has passionately advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues, and church renewal. This week’s podcast shares with you an excerpt from Sister Joan’s audio program, Catching Fire: Being Transformed, Becoming Transforming, a seven-hour conversation with Tami Simon intended to spark the fire of the divine within each one of us.

Sister Joan Chittister: Lighting a Fire with Faith

Sister Joan Chittister is a member of Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania; the bestselling author of more than 50 books and hundreds of articles; and one of the most influential contemporary leaders and activists for human rights, women’s issues, and church renewal. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Sister Joan about the endless interplay between doubt and faith. They discuss the ways in which God sees all of creation, and what this perspective then asks of us. Tami and Sister Joan talk about the necessity of embracing humility, as well as what it means to know the right questions to ask on one’s spiritual journey. Finally, Sister Joan comments on the maturation of faith as one grows older and the “last great adventure” offered by death. (66 minutes)

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Ep 6: The H-Word

When it comes to the state of our world, the concept of hope can feel elusive. Joanna teaches Jess that the future may be uncertain, but that means that there’s still room for something beautiful to happen. This episode offers insights into embracing uncertainty, cultivating joyousness, and understanding the intricate interplay between hope, courage, and action.

In this episode:

  • “Active hope” is about acting in service of the future we hope for
  • Whenever Jess asks about hope, Joanna talks instead about courage 
  • When hope eludes us, courage and our devotion to life remain steadfast

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Ep 5 Bonus: Breathing Through

This bonus episode will support you to take the main insights from Episode 4: There is No Future if We Go Numb and Episode 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing, deeper into your life. 

Both of these episodes are about the second phase in the Spiral of the Work That Reconnects, Honoring Our Pain for the World. This bonus is a recording of Joanna leading a meditation called Breathing Through, recorded at a retreat in 2006. In it, she’ll guide you to create space to acknowledge and honor the pain for the world that you carry without numbing or getting overwhelmed. All you’ll need for this bonus exercise is a place where you can close your eyes and relax.  

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

 

Ep 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing

Now we get to what may be the toughest part of reckoning with our planet’s situation: dealing with numbness, grief, and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the many crises around us, and natural to want to numb ourselves to the pain. 

Joanna and Jess speak with great vulnerability and candor about what it takes to navigate our darkest feelings—and the strength and beauty that can be found when we honor our pain. 

Trigger Warning: In this episode, we discuss suicide.

In this episode:

  • When it feels like our pain could swallow us whole, it helps to remember that all feelings come and go
  • Desperation can take us to dark places, but we are more than our despair
  • Numbness—Jess opens up about her familiar tactic for escaping pain
  • Our pain becomes sacred when we allow it to deepen our connection with the world
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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