Lovely night Thursday with NPR's Diane Rehm, who talked about the importance of listening under the blue and smoky ceiling sky above the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. Rehm - who graciously but firmly declined to endorse any political candidate, no matter how craftily the audience members asked - was charming and funny, talked about her career, the state of the U.S., what will happen to the Florida delegates (she suggests splitting 'em between Clinton and Obama), how she deals with blathering callers (she hits the fade button), the media, all subjects you'd imagine she'd touch on. The audience was attentive and, for the most part, asked extremely intelligent questions, about the viability of having a national election holiday, her mentors, how she chose the authors who appear on the show.
The highlight came when, after she talked about her parents being Arab immigrants, an audience member asked how her being Muslim informed her worldview. No, really! Note to audiences: It's always best if you know what you're talking about before you get up to the mike. (We will go over this again before book fair.) Rehm explained that she'd been baptized, had attended Methodist and Syrian Orthodox churches and that as an adult she became a "practicing Episcopalian." Then she asked her questioner: Are you going to ask me how my Episcopalian background affects me?
Rehm, of course, is the sort of person who can say such a thing without sounding the least bit annoyed or angry. With equal grace, as the audience furiously applauded, the questioner said simply, "You've taught me a lot here."