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Our beliefs can cage us. But they can also set us free

The Hale-Bopp comet passes overhead on March 26, 1997.
Flickr Photo/Richard Dinda (CC BY 2.0)/
The Hale-Bopp comet passes overhead on March 26, 1997.

You probably don't remember the passage of a comet named Hale-Bopp in the late 1990s. But you might remember what came after that. Glynn Washington, host of the podcast Snap Judgment, couldn't look away from that story. 

"My interest was on 11, when everyone else's was on 3," he says.

Members of a cult called Heaven's Gate had committed America's largest mass suicide, believing the comet had come to take them to "the next level."

Washington himself had been in an apocalyptic faith organization growing up, and he couldn't shake a sneaking sense of recognition.

His new podcast project, Heaven's Gate, explores the question of what we believe and how it shapes our lives. He and Bill Radke discussed the increasing toxicity of our beliefs, and the ways in which we all seek love and belonging. 

Our beliefs can keep us fragile and afraid, Washington says. But through our stories, we have the power to set ourselves free.

Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012