Thursday, October 24, 2013

Questions and Answers (A Reversal)

I think one of the biggest problems with our contemporary approach to faith and religious thought is that we spend far too much time looking for answers to mysteries and questions and far too little time exploring the mysteries and questions themselves for what they can teach us.

I think mostly of a generation that grew up with the song (and the concept of) "Jesus Is the Answer." To the generation that wrote that song, it meant something because they lived in a world where everything was in a topsy-turvy whirlwind of change, and where everyone was full of questions about what made life matter. But for each generation since, they grow up not having a clue what the actual questions are, just a vague platitude that hey, Jesus is the answer, so stop looking around already.

Another example, too often finding AN answer is seen as finding THE answer. When people ask, "Where is God when I'm hurting, or when I'm suffering?" it's too easy to simply to give a pat answer of "he's right there with you" without ever exploring what it means, and what suffering can teach us, or why pain can be both a helpful and a hurtful thing. When we think about the questions, we often find them leading to more questions, not mere answers than can be recorded and stored away in a filing cabinet somewhere in our brain.

When we find AN answer, it gives us a reason (although a wrong one) to stop exploring the question. It gives us a reason to move a step away from one group (searchers) to another, "better" group (knowers). It is the first step in our moving from people who need Jesus to people who need answers. And answers ultimately do not satisfy our souls.

Our contemporary quest is for knowledge, an intellectual experience of knowing answers and data and "stuff" -- not a quest for Christ himself. Questions should lead us to the who has the answers and ultimately IS the answer, not to a list of answers we can rattle off and publish about or build religions around.