In the hustle of modern life it’s often difficult to stop, take a breath, and listen to those around you. We can learn so much simply by attending to the stories of the people around us.

The monthly Life Itself podcast invites you to participate in sensible dialogue around interfaith experience from a variety of sources ranging from experts and religious scholars to students and community members worldwide.

We encourage you to join the dialogue by commenting on Facebook and sharing the podcast. Thank you, and enjoy!


Episode 4 – 3 Ways of Living Deeply

It was a delight to be a part of this podcast with Arthur Woods, a gentle and grounded storyteller. Arthur’s life is one relentless pursuit of purpose, wholeness, and community.

Off the bat, you will be ushered into the gracious but insulated world of his childhood, then beyond into the wide space where one cannot control questions that are being asked, let alone the answers. Arthur’s journey has taken him away from his religious community to life itself, and life itself has taken him back to a religious community. Through this full-circle journey, he has learned to give himself permission to change and make meaning.

Arthur outlines three ways to go about living deeply: self-discovery, integration, and community. He also describes a compelling way to take your mind where you might want to avoid taking it, but where it needs to go.

In his story you will also meet anti-gay protesters and awesome Jesuits, and stop by a Jeffersonian dinner. His story is like one healing chant. Make yourself a warm drink, find a comfy chair, and let Arthur’s journey from faith to faith strengthen you.

Join us on Facebook for conversation with the podcast hosts and guests!

Arthur Woods is the Co-founder of Imperative, a company reshaping the way we empower people and measure success in the workplace. He is a writer, speaker and advisor for leading brands on the future of work.

Arthur previously worked at Google where he led operations for YouTube’s Education division and oversaw YouTube for Schools. Arthur co-founded the Compass Fellowship, the largest collegiate social enterprise training program and Out in Tech, the leading global LGBTQ technology community.  Arthur studied Operations and information Management at Georgetown University and Project Management at Stanford University. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a New York Venture Fellow and sits on the Boards of the Georgetown Technology Alliance, Compass Partners and Out in Tech.



Episode 3 – Hinduism and the Divinity Within Us

Some time ago I was at a Kripalu Center, training and learning how to better facilitate workshops for a whole person. It was three days of learning about myself, about group learning dynamics, and about the ways change occurs. Uma Gupta was a group member who did not speak much, until the last day when she had an opportunity to address the group and share her reflections. I immediately knew I was sitting at the feet of a master; an urban, savvy, postmodern, and street smart master. There were parts of my experience in life that had loose ends that found their place because of her words.

Uma Gupta is a whole person. She is a worldly person, working with leaders in large organizations, advising them on a variety of topics in global leadership. She is also a spiritual teacher, fiercely devoted to to her inner life. Our telephone-conducted podcast conversation with Uma is about three treasures of Hinduism. I asked her what insights Hinduism has brought to the world that every human being, regardless of their religion, can learn from and use to live a more impactful and fulfilling life. Enjoy!

Note: This conversation is one of our early recordings, and the sound quality isn’t as high as our other interviews, but our guest Uma Gupta’s perspective is so valuable that we decided it was important to share it anyway. We hope you’ll agree.

Join us on Facebook for conversation with the podcast hosts and guests!

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Dr. Uma Gupta is a speaker and consultant on STEM, diversity, leadership, organizational and personal development and women’s issues. She has been quoted in and Reuters and interviewed by NPR and Democrat & Chronicle.

She is a seasoned executive, social entrepreneur and Professor of Business with more than two decades of experience in helping businesses become happy and productive places. Uma holds a PhD in industrial engineering and an MBA from the University of Central Florida, and a graduate degree in mathematics from Stella Maris College. Her philosophy is simple: Do Good. Be Happy. Find your “flow” and do great things.

Episode 2 – Community and Conviction: Parker Palmer’s Quaker Wisdom

I don’t remember when Parker Palmer became a favorite teacher in my life.

My personal library of books has regularly been the trigger for spousal spats about use of the shared space in my family. We moved from Michigan, to New York, to California, and then back to New York, from house to house and from one apartment to another, so many times. Each time I had to surrender half a dozen boxes of books in order to make our living space actually livable and make a place for new books coming in. Books written by Parker, however, kept multiplying over the years. Both my wife and I read them. Sometimes we bought a handful to have handy as a gift for friends, coworkers, or family, anyone wishing to live a courageous life. Parker Palmer is in every room in our home now.

In my public life, I sometimes catch myself being proud of an insight I come up with when I am speaking or consulting, only to find out weeks or months later that the insight has been underlined in one of Parker’s books. This scares me, in terms of the condition of my memory, but it also delights me in terms of the state of my belief system. I feel whole and happy to think that Parker’s thoughts, absorbed long ago, are working their magic deep in the recesses of the way I think and imagine.

A decade ago I took one of those online assessment surveys that ask you dozens of questions about your beliefs, values, and practices and then offers you your ideal religion. I was told I would find my meaning and my greatest personal fulfillment as a Quaker. So, when we decided to do this series of podcasts for Faith House called Life Itself, I immediately thought of one of the greatest Quaker teachers of life in modern America, Parker Palmer. Over the years, I have been lucky to know Parker and experience him as a friend and mentor. That says nothing about me except that I dared to ask for help, but it says much about Parker and his boundless generosity. Always responsive, always thorough, always gentle. I even shared an experience of participating in a Clearness Committee with him at one of the leadership retreats he led. (If you don’t know what Clearness Committee is, Google it, it’s worth it. Or read about it in his book Hidden Wholeness).

In this podcast, Frank and I asked Parker to share with us the three best things about Quakerism, three insights or practices that any one of us from other religions can learn from Quakerism and use to deepen and strengthen our lives. Enjoy! – Samir Selmanovic

Join us on Facebook for conversation with the podcast hosts and guests!

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Parker J. Palmer is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. Author of nine books—including Let Your Life Speak, The Courage to Teach, and Healing the Heart of Democracy—he holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and thirteen honorary doctorates. In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the thirty “most influential senior leaders” in higher education and one of the ten key “agenda-setters” of the past decade. In 2010, Palmer was given the William Rainey Harper Award whose previous recipients include Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, Marshall McLuhan, and Paolo Freire.


Episode 1 – Ten Best Humanist Ideas for the Rest of Us

Host Samir Selmanovic writes: I met Chris about five years ago in a Harlem coffee shop where we had arranged to meet. My big (and only) item on the agenda was to invite him to speak for a Faith House event in New York City, without paying him what he was worth! This was done and over within the first 10 minutes.  What followed was unforgettable; a long evening of learning from his heart, mind, and unexpected story of studying theology, turning into an atheist, and then deciding to be a pastor in his own way. His bottomless well of kindness towards, respect for, and wonder about religion was, to me, like finally receiving a blessing from an outsider of my religious world. Personally, it felt like God blessed me. 

Chris Stedman is the Humanist chaplain at Yale University and the author of the wonderful book Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, and in this podcast he tells us about the life-giving and community-building practices of his Humanist community, his gratitude to religious teachers, and the wonders of walking a dog!

We hope you’ll join the conversation on our Facebook page:



Chris Stedman is Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community. Previously a Humanist chaplain at Harvard University, he is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. A Contributing Editor at Religion News Service, Chris is a committed interfaith activist and Adjunct Trainer for Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). Details magazine named Chris as one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo.” He has appeared on CNN, msnbc, and Fox News, and has written for publications including Salon, CNN, msnbc, The Advocate, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post.


Interested in interfaith issues and experience? Curious about other religious practices? Check out our Immersion page to learn more about Faith House Immersions!