What question animates you?

It makes complete sense, but it never ceases to amaze me how much my environment shapes my questions.  A little more than a year ago, I remained fixated on how the ritualistic, linguistic, and liturgical nature of the eucharist could challenge and correct consumerism (Mind you, I was still in divinity school).  Now?  My questions have a decidedly less academic and cerebral tone.  What drives my conversations with colleagues and keeps me awake on nights when I am particularly hyped up on caffeine or drunk with enthusiasm for my work are matters of the church: what the church looks like now, where it is headed, and how to connect its past, present, and future.

Not surprisingly, I also spend much of my mental energy thinking about Washington and the overachiever culture.  How do "we" (i.e., many middle class Washingtonians) lose our sense of urgency?  How do we combat exhaustion and burnout?  Where does church fit into chaotic schedules--and why should it receive priority?  And how can we change the conception of "church" to encompass many spaces and moments outside of church buildings?

The problem with many church circles (well, and others too) is that sometimes we feel satisfied simply articulating the question.  If we name the problem, our work is done.  If we wax and wane about all of the intricacies of the problem and the complexities of the solution, even better.  Our questions are so complicated and profound that they are unanswerable.

 


But what about the answers?  Is it enough merely to be inquiring for inquiry's sake and not seeking answers?

There is something, I believe, to living with lifelong questions.  Not knowing drives us to wonder and pursue knowledge in the first place.  The questions that compel us most bring us to life and elucidate our purposes for being.  They make life rich and worthwhile, complex, mysterious.  We want to drink in more, continuing to probe our contexts for depth of meaning and clarity.

Yet we cannot only live with our questions.  Just as having no questions and feeling always self-assured in one's answers seems to me a dangerous situation, so does never experiencing questions as a call to action.  Asking should beget acting.  How does what I am asking inform my action?  Or, to quote any one of the sullen, bored fifteen-year-old boys I have encountered over the years (sarcasm and all): Now what?