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How to be Good?

Author: Sarah Buckmaster

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In a world full of challenges, complications and crises, how can we be good to ourselves and others? Join Sarah as she explores what it means to be a “good person” through a series of interviews with people from all walks of life. If you’re interested in how to be a better person, curious about different perspectives and looking for a light-hearted approach to those big life questions, then this is the podcast for you!
16 Episodes
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For our bitesize edition this month, we’re taking a few moments to celebrate!Not only was our most recent interview with Humanist Jane Blackman all about the joy of celebration, but we also found out earlier this month that this podcast has made it to the finals of the International People's Choice podcast awards. As today is International Podcast Day, and the People’s Choice Podcast award ceremony is this evening, we’re taking a moment to celebrate. And we’re celebrating each one of our listeners. We’re so grateful for all of you listening. We’re in the award finals because of you. It’s not an easy time to celebrate, with so much bad news across the globe – so let’s keep it small for now. For our “How to be Good” challenge this time, we want you to spend 60-seconds of your day today having a mini-celebration, just by yourself. 
What does it mean to be a good person according to a Humanist?We ask Humanist Jane Blackman to share her opinion on being good according to her non-religious beliefs.Jane is an award-winning Humanist Celebrant, performing non-religious weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies and other non-religious rituals. Last year, Jane was voted best celebrant in the country – she’s based in the UK - at the 2020 Wedding Industry Awards.As a former head teacher, Jane is passionate about education and freedom of choice. She strives to treat others and all living things with care and compassion, and believes in us making the very most of every precious day that we have. In this conversation, Jane explains how humanism is all about people, relationships and human interactions. This episode teaches us more about non-religious beliefs and what it means to be a humanist in today's world.  If, after listening, you'd like to learn more about humanism, you can visit humanists.uk. And if you want to find out more about Jane Blackman, please visit janeblackmanweddings.co.uk.
What does it mean to be a good person according to a member of the First Nations? We ask Melanie Goodchild, Moose Clan, to share her opinion on being good according to Indigenous teachings.Melanie is Anishinaabe (Ojibway or Chippewa) from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee First Nations in northern Ontario, Canada. She is a senior indigenous research fellow and associate at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Currently studying for her PhD in social and ecological sustainability, Melanie is also the founder of the Turtle Island Institute, an Indigenous social innovation think & do tank - a teaching lodge – that is working to enable transformative change.In her work, Melanie weaves together her unique perspectives of Anishinaabe gikendaasowin (knowledge) with systems thinking/complexity theory and social innovation to address society’s most intractable problems. She believes in the teaching methods of her ancestors, in “coming to know” on the land, and so she supports initiatives that seek to connect people to ceremony, story, art, language and the land.Melanie is an incredible person with such a wealth of knowledge, coupled with a real depth of kindness and compassion. She starts this interview by introducing herself in Anishinaabemowin – the language of her ancestors – so you can hear more about where she’s from in her own words.If, after listening, you'd like to learn more about Melanie Goodchild, please visit Turtle Island Institute and you can also read her recent paper on Relational Systems Thinking.
For our Bitesize Episode* this month, we’re taking some advice from Hindu Pandita Indrani Rampersad:  "You know I used to teach High School in New York, and I used to teach my kids everyday – when you go home, I want you to do three good things. And tomorrow when you come, tell me what you did.”This month, let’s do 3 good things – just 3 little things - each day, and make note of what they were at the end of that day because whatever we focus on becomes our reality, so let’s make goodness our reality for the next few weeks.*In Bitesize Episodes, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.
What does it mean to be a good person according to a Catholic Sister?We ask Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen to share her opinion on being good according to Catholic teachings.Sister Adele Marie joined the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon on Valentines Day in 1982 and now serves as the President of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation (a multi-million dollar non-profit). In 2018,  because of how she’s lead this business, Sister Adele Marie was awarded the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award – this is an award designed to honor the region’s most influential business women and Sister Adele Marie was the first honoree in the 15-year history of the awards to come from a religious vocation. Sister Adele Marie has two master’s degrees, is an inspirational businesswoman, loves sports, traveling and china painting – among so many other things. This is such an open and gentle conversation about how well-rounded and active the day-to-day life of a Sister is.If, after listening, you'd like to learn more about Sister Adele Marie or the Sisters of St Mary of Oregon, please visit www.ssmoministries.org. 
What does it mean to be a good person according to a Hindu Pandita*? We ask Dr. Pandita Indrani Rampersad, the first ever official female priest to be ordained in Trinidad, to share her opinions on being good according to Hindu teachings.  Dr. Pandita Indrani is a Trinidadian-Indian Hindu, researcher and women’s activist who, in 2013, received Trinidad and Tobago’s national award GOLD for her Outstanding Contribution to The Development of Women’s Rights and Issues. In her professional life, Pandita Indrani has worked as a teacher in Trinidad and New York, as well as a senior journalist. She holds her PhD in Communication and Journalism and continues to work tirelessly to encourage women and girls to derive empowerment from their spiritual identity. Above all, Pandita Indrani is a Peace Advocate who propagates mutual respect as a necessity for harmonious living; and sees cultural identity as a human rightIf after listening to that you’d like to learn more about Pandita Indrani, you can find her on Facebook and read more about her in this Hinduism Today article and this interview on Vimeo.*The word Pandita means Priest, or something more close to Reverend. 
This third Bitesize Episode* focuses on Binary Thinking.We are living in a time of deep polarity – both politically and socially. It seems our beliefs, opinions and actions are becoming more and more pushed to two far ends of a wide and diverse spectrum.  Binary thinking – the yes/no, right/wrong, start/finish, good/bad way of thinking is something we, as humans, turn to when we’re feeling scared and want a safe space. Binary thinking makes us feel safe because it’s a simple way of looking at the world – it removes uncertainty, complexity, not-knowing and replaces it with certainty, simplicity and all-knowing – or so it feels... let's talk about why that isn't the case.*In Bitesize Episodes, we take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.
What does it mean to be a good person according to the teachings of Islam? This is the second-half of my interview with Imam Abdulah Polovina – if you haven’t listened to the first half yet, then head back to our previous episode and take a listen. We covered what it means for a Muslim to be a good person, talking about the 5 Pillars of Islam, how Muslims feel about forgiveness and what Imam Abdulah recommends we all do more of in our day-to day-lives.In this second half, Imam Abdulah goes more deeply into the mechanism of faith, and shares his personal experiences of moving to America and being the first Imam to study at a Catholic University. He talks about his experiences living through (and being injured in) the Bosnian War, and we also spend time talking about the role of women in Islam.If you’d like to learn more about Imam Abdulah Polovina, this is a great article in Portland's Street Roots magazine: Demystifying Islam, a Portland Imam opens his mosque.
What does it mean to be a good person according to the teachings of Islam? We ask Imam Abdulah Polovina to share his opinions on being a good Muslim. Imam Abdulah is a warm and approachable leader and in this conversation, we talk about what it means for a Muslim to be a good person, talking about the 5 Pillars of Islam, how Muslims feel about forgiveness and what Imam Abdulah recommends we all do more of in our day-to day-lives. Because our conversation was quite long in length, we've divided it across two episodes. This is part 1 and covers the usual questions we ask about being good – the second part, which is available as our next episode goes into more depth about the mechanism of faith, diving into the role of women in Islam and Imam Abdulah’s experience of the Bosnian war.If you’d like to learn more about Imam Abdulah Polovina, this is a great article in Portland's Street Roots magazine: Demystifying Islam, a Portland Imam opens his mosque.
This second Bitesize Episode* focuses on Forgiveness.This is an area that most of us have an opinion on; we all have experience of trying to forgive or seeking forgiveness – or maybe refusing to forgive. I’ve asked most of the Faith Leaders I’ve interviewed about this, because many religions and belief-systems have writings, rituals or practices linked to the process of forgiveness. So, let’s start by grounding ourselves in some of the different ways this has been spoken about across our interviews so far, and then spending a few minutes reflecting on how we want to show up when it comes to forgiveness in our own lives.*In Bitesize Episodes, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.
What does it mean to be a good person according to a Pagan? We ask Jenny Uzzell, Education & Youth Manager for The Pagan Federation, to share her opinions on being "good" according to Pagan teachings. Jenny has been involved in Druidry for 12 years, and is carrying out her PhD research into death rites among contemporary Druids in the UK. She is also co-owner and Director of a funeral home, which is where she was for this interview. In this conversation, Jenny covers many of the misconceptions that people have about paganism, and shares the history and background of this area of spirituality.If you’d like to learn more about Druidry, you can visit OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and BDO (British Druid Order).
What does it mean to be a good person within Christianity?We ask Christian Priest, Reverend Prebendary Angela Berners-Wilson to share her opinions on being 'good' according to Christian teachings.Reverend Angela was the first woman to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England, and is now the Rector of Quantock Towers Benefice - a collection of parishes and communities in Somerset, England. In this conversation, she talks about connecting with community during a global pandemic (she provides leadership to 6 churches and their congregations), describes the importance of the New Commandment, and shares more about her experience as the first female Priest in the Church of England. 
This first Bitesize Episode* focuses on Creating Community.  We can choose to be in community with whoever is around us at the time – the people at our local shop, those in the road when we’re out for a walk. Whoever is around us is our community so let's connect with them.Connecting with, supporting and caring for others is a theme that came out strongly in recent "How to be Good?" interviews. It's something that both a Jewish Rabbi in the UK, and a Buddhist Abbot in India not only agreed upon, but highlighted as one of the most important things in leading a life of goodness, in being happy, and just in feeling and doing good in this world.*In Bitesize Episodes, we’re going to take a few minutes to focus on a theme, topic, or piece of advice related to “How to be Good” that’s come up in our interviews. We'll talk about how we can put advice from our interviews to practical use in our daily life.
What does it mean to be a good person according to a Buddhist Abbot? We ask Geshe Tashi, Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery in India, to share his opinions on being good according to Buddhist teachings. Geshe Tashi is known for his ability to present the most complex Buddhist teachings with clarity and honesty, and has a gift of combining deep wisdom and beautiful lightness. In this conversation about what it means to be "good" according to Buddhist teachings, he shows a real sense of playfulness and shares personal stories alongside Buddhist philosophy.If after listening to that you’d like to learn more about Geshe Tashi, you can visit Geshetashi.org and Foundations of Buddhist Thought.
What does it mean to be a good person within Judaism? We ask Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah to share her opinions on being good according to Jewish teachings. Rabbi Elli has been Rabbi of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue for 20 years (since 1 December 2000), and was the first ordained lesbian Rabbi in the world to lead a mainstream synagogue. She is a profoundly passionate Jew with a deep love of the spiritual, theological and practical aspects of her faith, and has a real passion for including everyone in the community, regardless of background. As a feminist lesbian, she is an unwavering voice against inequality and discrimination, and has a long history of activism both inside and outside the world of Judaism. In this conversation about what it means to be "good" within Judaism, Rabbi Elli demonstrates an inspirational energy as she shares personal stories alongside Jewish teachings.If, after listening, you’d like to learn more about Rabbi Elli, you can visit her website, and find out more about Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue - and Elli's book, Trouble-Making Judaism, is available on Amazon. *please note that Rabbi Elli mentions teaching "Exploring Judaism" on Shabbat afternoons but as she is preparing for her retirement at the end of April 2021, she is no longer teaching that course - she continues to teach Access to Hebrew.
A brief introduction to the How to Be Good podcast – to share the motivation behind it, and also to introduce the first series which has a specific focus. If you have any questions, email Sarah anytime at sarah@howtobegood.co.uk.
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