How many of us heard, “Quit asking so many questions!” growing up? Especially in church. During our Stones of Remembrance service, Jennie Lewis told us her painful story of recently being asked to leave her previous church’s small group because she asked too many “disruptive” questions.
Mother Teresa, the nun who served the poorest of India wrote this in her private journal, published only after her death: “So many unanswered questions live within me – I am afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy – If there be God, please forgive me.”
Unfortunately, the church has discouraged questions, synonymizing doubt with blasphemy, and conversely, faith with certainty. In 2009, author Hank Hanegraaff, aka “The Bible Answer Man” published “The Complete Bible Answer Book.” This is what my earlier church experience taught me that faith looks like.
What a mistake the church has made. By contrast, in Jewish culture, the tradition of midrash invites robust discussion and question-asking around important ideas about God. In Buddhist tradition, followers are encouraged to have a “beginner’s mind” about all the things we think we know. Jesus himself encouraged us to have the faith of a child, curious and open.
On our Reflection Tables, we have two journals available for everyone to read or write. One is for gratitude. The other is for questions. I think God is not only not threatened by our “blasphemous” questions, I think God wants to hear every last one of them. I think God wants our honesty, even our rage, much more than God wants our pretending./strong>
Here are a few questions that our community has written:
Dear God, will you help heal my marriage?
What does trusting you mean?
What is my purpose? Who are my people? Where am I supposed to be?
Why? Why? Why?
How and when will my suffering end?
Starting Sunday, we’ll explore 6 Questions Worth Asking. Bring your own questions with you, even if they feel scary. Write them in our Questions Journals. We will be here, in this brave space with you.
And if you’re looking for solidarity in your questions and doubts, check out the book of Psalms. In some poems, the writer feels certain they understand what is happening. In others, you hear a heart broken wide open with no answers at all. Many are a cry for help.
With you in doubt and belief, trusting we all can receive here,