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Publisher's Summary

“I’ve come to understand the cumulative dialogue of my work as a kind of cartography of wisdom about our emerging world. This book is a map in words to important territory we all are on now together.” 

Over the 13 years that Krista Tippett has hosted her award-winning and nationally beloved radio program and podcast, first under the title Speaking of Faith and now as On Being, the heart of her work has been to shine a light on the most extraordinary voices on the great questions of meaning for our time, people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. Scientists in a variety of fields; theologians from an array of faiths; poets, activists, and many others have all opened themselves up to Tippett's compassionate but searching conversation. 

In Becoming Wise, Tippett distills the insights she has gleaned from this luminous conversation in its many dimensions into a coherent narrative journey, over time and from mind to mind, into what it means to be human. The book is a master class in living, individually and collectively, curated by Tippett and accompanied by a delightfully ecumenical dream team of a teaching faculty. Wisdom emerges through the raw materials of the everyday.   

The open questions and challenges of our time are intimate and civilizational all at once - definitions of when life begins and when death happens, of the meaning of community and family and identity, of our relationships to technology and through technology. The enduring question of what it means to be human has now become inextricable from the question of who we are to each other, Tippett says. And this book is much more than a call to personal growth. It is a grounded and ultimately hopeful vision of human spiritual evolution. It insists on the possibility of a common life for this century marked by resilience and redemption, with beauty as a core moral value and civility and love as muscular practice. Krista Tippett's great gift, in her work and in Becoming Wise, is to avoid reductive simplifications but still find the golden threads that weave people and ideas together into a shimmering braid.   

One powerful common denominator of the lessons imparted to Tippett is the gift of presence, of the exhilaration of engagement with life for its own sake, not as a means to an end. Called enlightenment, called transcendence, often called nothing because it is beyond language, it is a state whose gifts can be described in many ways - nourishing, edifying, redemptive - as can its celebrants: courageous, tender, adventurous, curious. But presence does not mean passivity or acceptance of the status quo. Indeed Tippett's teachers are people whose work meets, and often drives, some of the most powerful forces of change alive in the world today. In the end, perhaps the greatest blessing conveyed by the lessons of spiritual genius Tippett harvests in Becoming Wise is the strength to meet the world where it really is, and then to make it even better.

©2016 Krista Tippett (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"IIf you measure the worth of a book by the volume of scribbles you pen in the margins, the stars emphatically drawn, and the sentences underlined, Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living - a compendium of wisdom, at once intimate and expansive - stands a serious shot of emerging both splattered and cherished. Tippett, the Peabody Award-winning radio host and National Humanities Medalist, is a master of what she terms ‘generous listening,’ an act ‘powered by curiosity,’ and a ‘willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity." (Chicago Tribune)

“Most of us can only dream of the dinner parties Krista Tippett could put together. We're lucky, then, that her new book is the next best thing to an invitation to sit down, make ourselves at home and prepare for a mind-expanding exploration of what it means to be human... Not light reading, but inspiring reading, for those willing to pull up a chair.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“This is not just a selection of greatest hits. Instead, rooted in Tippett's own keen insight, she provides an interlocking frame based on five themes: words, the body, love, faith, and hope. With dips into Tippett's childhood and early career, readers are embraced by her own struggle, vulnerability, and thirst for meaning. As researcher and TED-talk phenom Brené Brown told Tippett, ‘Hope is a function of struggle.’ Tippett's striving here is the grist for creative genius.” (Publishers Weekly [starred review])

What listeners say about Becoming Wise

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A bit of an interview clip show

I have been a fan of Krista Tippett for at least the last 10 years. She is a good interviewer and she has a real interest in pay attention to both socially conscious issues and how religious backgrounds motivate people.

Listening to this as an audiobook, which I think is probably the best method for this particular book, it is hard not to think of it as a clip show. There are so many clips from her interviews in the book that I was a bit distracted at times from the content. (And many of them I remember from when I heard them originally on the show.) But the clips had real meaning and they did build upon one another to make her point. As a professional interviewer, conversation is what she does. It is perfectly natural that much of her learning is coming from people that she is interviewing.

One of the points that I both appreciate about Tippett and slightly concerns me is that she views part of what she is doing and gaining insight into ‘spiritual technologies’. This term, ‘spiritual technologies’, I think is helpful but also significantly problematic. On the one hand, I get the point that we can learn these spiritual technologies across faith lines and it is a helpful way to think about cross religious dialogue. And I think it sort of fits with James KA Smith and others view of spiritual practices.

But spiritual technologies as a descriptor seems reductionist. Her point of talking about becoming wise is that we often are valuing the wrong things, which leads us to place emphasis in the wrong areas of life. By using the word technology, there is a problem with viewing spiritual practices and ideas as primarily about gaining mastery over the spiritual. I wish she had used another term, like the traditional ‘spiritual practices’ or ‘pathway’ or similar term that was focused less on mastery and tool building and more on internal development and process. We do not become wise, we work on the process of becoming wise. Wisdom is not something we confirm on ourselves. It is something that others confirm about us.

But I do appreciate the focus on wisdom. I think we should value wisdom. And many of the people she is interviewing genuinely appear to have gained real wisdom and understanding about life. The interview subjects are not necessarily powerful or well known (although many have some real influence). She confronts the importance of struggle in achieving wisdom. Her background as journalist and diplomat in Eastern Europe before and during the fall of the Berlin Wall give real insight into how struggle works. And how something that no one really predicts, can suddenly just happen.

Tippett is good about asking questions and listening to the answers. She has a perspective, she is a Christian. But she seems to really attempt to allow people to explain themselves on their own terms and to gain real understanding. Much of the content between the interviews is processing. I think there needed to be some more evaluation. Of course, she was including ideas that made sense to her and fit into the narrative she was building. But there was little push back against any of the ideas. Her own narrative about the struggle of life building character and wisdom, seemed missing in the way she let the narrative play out in the book.

The five sections of the book felt too loose to me. The chapters were Words, Flesh, Love, Faith, Hope. There did seem to be some liberal Christian blindspots in evidence. But also in evidence, was her conservative background that she has been processing and trying to overcome. More than a few that have come out of a conservative background and end up in a liberal Christian theological stream have endured real harm from the church. She hints at that. But somewhat similar to the way that Rachel Held Evans talks, Tippett still sees real value in the church background of her childhood. So I tend to give some real grace there because one of her options was to walk away from the church completely. She has not done that.

Tippett is a few years older than I am. Late 40s and early 50s seems like a natural times to start focusing more on wisdom. She is a voice I want to keep listening to.

16 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

I listen to Krista Tippett and Onbeing regularly, and this was just like a "best of" for me. I enjoyed every moment and then I ordered the actual book because there are so many gems here I want to go back and read and write in the margins. Highly recommend!

4 people found this helpful

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An eclectic collection of goodness.

listening to this book adds to its enjoyment as your hear the interviewed in there own voice. at times the writing is poetic to better rely what is said.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful!

This book is a fantastic collection of conversations that will uplift and enlighten. Listen and enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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  • PC
  • 05-09-16

No other voices please

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I like her thoughts but not the interviews.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Tippet connecting the dots.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her voice as interviewer is hard for long times.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic, thought provoking

It took me a moment to actually get into the book. perhaps life was busy or I didn't have the interest I thought I had. But once I began listening for real, I quickly had to turn off the accelerated reading I enjoy in order to be able to listen even more intently at a slower pace. Krista had led a life full of interesting experiences, and crafted herself to be able to connect with a vast array of similarly interesting people. I loved the style of this audio book that interweaved her narrative with clips from her interviews. I hurriedly wrote down the names of many interviewees in order to look them up later and check for any writings of their own. I fully intend to listen to this again with a note pad, excitedly taking down thoughts to chew on and bring up in conversation. I could not recommend this more.

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Wake up to a warm embrace

Krista Tippett’s reflections on the human experience evoke reverence and grace. Her interviews in this audio book are perfect for this moment. From grief, to nature, to religion and depression, she provides insights that are worthy of many listens.

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Becoming Wise

I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this one in a long while. I even bought the kindle book to make references to. Excellent book, highly recommended for everyone whatever your belief. It will open your mind to another way of seeing spirituality and religion and living them both with external and inner peace. Thank you.

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Excellent!

Wonderful, enlightening, Thought provoking. I enjoyed it and will listen to this again. I like the way she gathered many voices to speak important truth.

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Rich with wisdom

There are so many nuggets of wisdom in this book. I will need to listen many time to mine them all.