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My Dad taught electrical lab at a two year college.  He was infamous for asking his students to explain themselves.  “Why?”  One year, a student came in dressed for Halloween.  Strictly speaking, this was not allowed because they had to wear uniforms.  But he wore one of Dad’s lab coats and stalked through the room chanting why why why.  Everyone got a kick out of it, including my dad.

To say that I was a kid who asked a lot of questions is an understatement.  Dad answered what he could and did what was needed to find answers for the rest.

Imagine my horror, and no I’m not exagerating, when I heard from some of my son’s frriends about being asked to leave church and never come back.  Why?  Because they asked questions in Sunday school.

One kid asked if Jesus died and then came back, how come he wasn’t a zombie.  He was promptly disinvited from church.  Me?  I thought it was a question that made a lot of sense.  Zombies die and come back.  Christ died and came back.  What’s the difference?

Granted, I’m a boy mom.  And, yes, he was most likely trying for a laugh, but tossing a kid out of Sunday school?

You don’t have to have all of the answers at your finger tips.  After all, you most likely aren’t a computer.  It would be totally okay to say that you know they are different but you need someone with more knowledge to help answer the question.  This is, after all, the type of question our minister could go on and on about.  He, after all, works with Scouts.

“Why?  That’s an excellent question.  Let me find the answer and I’ll get back to you.”  That’s a perfectly legitimate answer.


Dad always used to tease me (and still does) because I always ask “why?”  I had one friend who was kicked out of Sunday school for asking questions?  Fortunately, our pastor welcomed it and used to sit down and talk to the kids when we questioned things.

What if, I wondered, we were never promised answers, only an endless spiral of questions: From the “What is that?” of our newly ignited infant minds to the “What happens next?” of the deathbed? What if every answer is just a front for a dozen new inquiries? What if there are no answers? What then?

Human beings are seldom at home with unresolved questions. Oh sure, it’s great fun to watch a mystery unfold on TV or in books, but what we’re really waiting for — what makes it all worthwhile — is the moment when the mystery is solved, the wrongdoer is apprehended, the culprit is unmasked, and we finally get our why. It is the reason that “senseless” crimes bother us so much: Where is the why? There isn’t one, and that is the whole problem.

Why, for instance, would anyone kill in the name of God? God, who is all-loving, all-forgiving, all-present, would never condone such a thing. So human beings, to justify their own ignorance, look for loopholes. They read into scripture things that are not there. They decide that only one way is the right way to God and all other routes must be annihilated in order to justify their theory. They bomb airports in Belgium and restaurants in Paris and fly planes into buildings in New York. They spew hatred and fear.

I may not have any of the answers to the big questions in life, but I know one thing: If hatred is part of your faith, you have no faith. You are worshiping human violence, which is tantamount to worshiping yourself, because God has no place in hatred. Humans demand a sure thing. God gently presents the next question. Why? Because human beings are not equipped to understand the fullness of the mystery of God. We never will be in this life.

In fact, consider this a litmus test: If you are dead certain that your faith path is the only true and correct one, you are almost certainly wrong. If you think you have God fenced in, defined, honed and dwindled to the slimmest and most precise boundaries, you are mistaken. You have failed the test because the test has no answers.

Only questions.

As we hold one another in prayer, let us remember to keep our hearts open to possibility, to new avenues of thinking. The surest way to be wrong is to be sure of anything. Especially when it comes to God.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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