Rekindling the Intellectual, Spiritual, Creative legacy of Christians in Culture

In 1999 I sat in the conference room at a company called Post Effects in Chicago. (This is where Bill Kurtis produces all his A&E shows). Among those gathered at my invitation were Marty O'Donnell (Bungee-Halo), Rand Miller (Myst/Riven), Jim Reardon (Rolling Stone writer), Lou Carlozo (Chicago Tribune entertainment writer) and Tom Beaudoin (author of Virtual Faith-The Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation X). Not attending, but also in the loop were author Anne Lamott and NPR commentator Frederica Mathewes-Green.

I had just left my Chicago-based nationally syndicated talk show and was kind of fed up with talk radio, which in my view was increasingly polarized and argumentative, offering a bland stew of political talk, hostile talk and frivolous talk. Meanwhile serous writers like social philosopher Charles Handy were writing books like The Hungry Spirit which opens with these words. "In Africa, they say there are two hungers, the lesser hunger and the greater hunger. The lesser hunger is for the things that sustain life, the goods and services, and the money to pay for them, which we all need. The greater hunger is for an answer to the question "why?" for some understanding of what that life is for." Where, we wondered, are these deep, core issues discussed?

Our little group had two things in common: we were thoughtful creatives and we agreed that there was a need for places where people of differing views and backgrounds could engage in intelligent, imaginative, hospitable explorations of ideas that mattered in contemporary life. We were also media professionals who realize we live in a superficial age that markets to the lowest common denominator. The middlebrow culture that once existed between academic elites and mere mortals is disappearing along with the distribution channels that once served them.

We intuitively sensed the web would fill that gap somehow, so seven years ago we started to explore ways to facilitate a meaningful conversation online. The arrival of podcasts means our time has come. The name "the kindlings," grew out of our identities. Look at the definitions of kindling and muse: Kindling: material to light a fire; to produce warmth & an illuminating glow. Muse: to spark one's creative thought; engage in meditation; to consider thoughtfully. We wanted illuminating conversation (musing) sparked by the stuff of everyday life (kindling). We are the kindlings and our conversation is The Kindlings Muse.

In a media age characterized by the confluence of polarization and trivialization, The Kindlings Muse will offer an intelligent, imaginative, hospitable exploration of ideas that matter most in contemporary life as sparked through our personal journeys and through our shared cultural experience in art, movies, books, music and events.

Over the next few months The Kindlings Muse will be released as local event featuring a live audience and round-table of thoughtful creatives and gadflies discussing ideas, beliefs and values shaping life today and originating from the center of the universe, Seattle's Fremont District, at Hales Ales Brewery & Pub (May 22, 2006, June 19, 2006 and every Monday beginning September 11, 2006). For more information contact:

We will also produce The Kindlings Muse Podcast and the nationally syndicated The Kindlings Muse Radio Show (September 2006). Stay tuned more is on the way!

Dick Staub