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2016 Ware Lecturer Krista Tippett

Author  Radio Show Host │ Journalist

“It’s always been very important to me to enlarge imaginations about how this part of life we call religious and spiritual actually works in real, far-flung, 21st-century lives.” 

—Krista Tippett

In 2014, broadcaster Krista Tippett received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence." Her new book, Becoming Wise – An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, will be released by Penguin Press in April, 2016.

The Peabody Award-winning Tippett grew up in Oklahoma, attended Brown University, and spent most of the 1980’s in divided Germany. She was The New York Times stringer in Berlin and also reported for NewsweekThe International Herald Tribune, the BBC, and Die Zeit. Later she served as a special political assistant and chief Berlin aide to the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany.

She wrote her first book, Speaking of Faith, in part to answer the question she is often asked—how she went from that mode of geopolitical engagement to becoming a religious person and student of theology. When she emerged from Yale with a Master of Divinity in 1994, she saw a black hole where intelligent journalistic coverage of religion should be. As she conducted a far-flung oral history project for the Benedictines of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, Tippett began to imagine radio conversations about the spiritual and intellectual content of faith that would enliven and open imaginations and public discussion.

The show she created, initially called Speaking of Faith and later renamed On Being is now heard on over 330 public radio stations and downloaded by millions as a podcast. From physics to parenting, from civil society to aging, from yoga to neuroscience, and from the environment to the economy, Krista and her guests trace the ancient, animating questions of human existence: What does it mean to be human? What matters in a life? What matters in a death? How to love? How to be of service to each other and to the world? They explore these questions in all the richness and complexity with which they are finding expression in 21st Century lives.

“We aspire to create hours of radio that are beautiful, intelligent, nourishing, edifying, trustworthy, quiet, and hospitable. They are also challenging, but not in a way that puts people on the defensive or invites posturing. We invite listeners—and give them tools—to open their minds, to see differently, and to start new conversations within themselves.”

—Krista Tippett

Tippett’s second book was the New York Times bestsellingEinstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, drawn from her interviews with scientists. Her latest initiative, the Civil Conversations Project, is an emergent series of conversations, public events, and resources, offering ideas and tools for healing our fractured civic spaces. In 2013, Tippett created an independent non-profit production company, Krista Tippett Public Productions, to be more nimbly responsive to the public life impact of On Being and the Civil Conversations Project and the evolving 21st Century longing to reconnect inner life with outer presence in the world.

For more information about Krista Tippett and her radio show, please visit

2015 Ware Lecturer Dr. Cornel West

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and obtained his MA and PhD in philosophy at Princeton. He has taught at Union Theological Seminary (where he has recently returned to teach), Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Paris. He has written nineteen books and edited thirteen books. He is best known for his classic Race Matters, published by Beacon Press in 1993. His latest books are Black Prophetic Fire, which offers a fresh perspective on six revolutionary African American leaders (Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells) and The Radical King, a collection of MLK’s writings curated and introduced by Prof. West to reclaim Dr. King’s prophetic and radical vision as both a civil rights leader and—more broadly—as a human right activist. Both books were published by Beacon Press.

Cornel West  appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN and C-SPAN, and he makes numerous appearances speaking to audiences large and small on subjects ranging from racial  justice and queer rights to climate justice.   Prof. West has appeared in over twenty-five documentaries and films, including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk, and Stand. He has also made three spoken-word albums, including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert. His recent spoken-word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices (which won the Grand Prix in France for the best jazz album of the year for 2009).  

He has recently been deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter protests and was among those arrested in Ferguson in 2015. Cornel West has a passion to communicate in writings and orations, through music and film, and in solidarity with groups and faith communities  committed to justice in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

History of the Ware Lecture

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, in consultation with the General Assembly Planning Committee, invites a distinguished guest each year to address the General Assembly as the Ware Lecturer.

In 1920, Harriet E. Ware of Milton, MA, bequeathed $5,000 to the American Unitarian Association (AUA) for its unrestricted use. Two years later, on the evening of May 24, 1922, the first Ware lecture was given by the Rev. Frederick W. Norwood, pastor of the City Temple in London, England. The Lecture had been "established in honor of the distinguished services of three generations of the Ware family to the cause of Pure Christianity."

The lecture has been given every year at the former May Meetings of the AUA and since 1961 at the General Assembly. No lecture was scheduled for 1945 due to World War II, although Morris S. Lazaron delivered an address on May 23, 1945, in All Souls Church in Washington, DC, which is referred to as a Ware lecture. There was no lecture in 1950 when the Unitarians celebrated their 125th anniversary.

The Harvard Square Library maintains a history of the Ware Lecture, including illustrated biographical notes.

Previous Ware Lecturers

Previous Ware Lecturers have included the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, and poet Mary Oliver.

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