Thursday, February 10, 2011

Of Questions, and Answers

I was reading a commentary tonight by someone who is known to be an incredibly deep thinker.

Those who know me, would say the same about me as well. I tend to think to a fault. Analyzing the ins and outs of this, that, and the other; without any prejudice for the importance of the matter. I am just as likely to think deeply about folding laundry as I am about the meaning of life.

And the questions that spawn from this thinking...

Oy vey.

It's pretty obvious that when your pastor nicknames you "The Question Box," you have a serious personality trait.

Perhaps, even, a strength that is hard for others to recognize.

In my case, I strongly believe that my need to question what's going on around me is a true gift. It is the ability to see outside of the box. The realization that things aren't always as they appear. And especially the catalyst with which I learn. The day I stop asking questions, is the day that I will be in my grave. But it hasn't always been a part of me that I joyfully embrace.

I've been mocked for it.

Hailed for it.

Scorned for it.

And relied on for it.

Which sends terrible mixed signals. On one hand, I can get phone calls asking me to reiterate something I learned, when I was the only one bold enough to look stupid enough to ask the question in the first place. On the other hand, I've been ridiculed for daring to question something when everyone around me was stewing about that very thing.

So there are consequences to asking questions. I know that.

Most of the time, I can honestly say, I don't ask the question unless I'm ready to deal with the answer. Whether it be to my liking or not. Whether I determine it to be the truth or not. If I can't handle the answer at that time, then I keep my question to myself.

Even information can be acquired in moderation.

I don't need to have a need to know...right now...all the time.


"It occurs to me that we should treat answers like pronouns, connectors that get us to the next question." *

Mr. Haseltine's post about asking questions, and the need for answers to be springboards to the next question, is something worth chewing on. Personally, I can justify the concept. I can see the beauty and humanity and true need for endless questions. The drive to continue to wonder, to hope, to strive in the middle of this journey we call "life."

However, in the same breath, I can also see the destruction that accompanies endless questioning.

Because see, when we don't ever find a place to stop, a time to accept, then we are destroying ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are putting ourselves in a position to never acknowledge that there IS a final answer. Which creates a never ending loop of mistrust, skepticism, and even self-divinity. The place where we can no longer come to a conclusion on a matter, is the time where we are our own god. We can't trust any one to have the answer, no one can find the end of a matter, therefore, it is still left to be discovered.

Discovered by whom? Why, ourselves, of course, because that is the only one we can depend on when it comes down to it, right? If this one or that one can't have a definitive answer for something, then who does?

Can God?

And if He does, then some answers are already made available. They can be known. That has to be definite. Infinite. If it isn't, then God is not who He says He is.

There is wisdom, and knowledge, and truth to be had. There always has been.


"On a gut level, it is why the surety with which some people navigate complex issues of life feels foreign, even fabricated to me. I am skeptical of people who “have it figured out.” "

Yet, there has to be something that can be figured out. Wouldn't you agree? Let's get basic:

I am a girl.

Period. End of story. There is no further question on that fact. Perhaps YOU aren't too sure about what YOU are, but in my case, there is only one answer:


But, let's get deeper:

The earth is round.

Well, there was a time when this was a controversial topic. There wasn't a correct answer to be had. And those who thought they had it "figured out" were either proven to be very right, or very wrong. But Neil Armstrong stood on the Moon, and could conclusively say that the Earth is indeed round, and not flat as was previously assumed.

So this is a known fact. Again, there is no questioning this statement. And if some gentleman from a foreign tribe located deep in the mountains of Laos argues vehemently with me on this point, because he's never been taught otherwise...

...well, that doesn't change the truth of the matter.

In this case, I am the one who has it "all figured out." I am the one with supreme knowledge. With the indisputable fact. There is nothing prideful about that. I cannot change it, rearrange it, or dismantle it even if I tried. You know, it's a matter of "don't shoot the messenger!"

So, let's take it up a few notches:

There is a right way.

Oh, now, this is a biggie. And I believe Mr. Haseltine had concepts of this depth in mind when he wrote what he did. That such philosophical and intangible conclusions should not, could not be broken down into something so meagerly simple. If we make statements of this brand of finality, are we truly being pompous, or are we simply being the messenger?

I would argue for both.

In a court of law, you cannot take the stand to testify on a matter where you have no experience. If you do, you will quickly be judged incompetent and scorned profusely.

Yet, this is how so many of these deep questions are answered. In arrogance. Spit around by drunkards who try to weave and bobble their way into Common Acceptance. You cannot take what they say as Truth, even though they have it "figured out." Credibility is key.

And if that is the case, then credibility is trust. Trust is the ability to accept. Acceptance holds weight now. And messengers can be what they say they are, and can say they are what they have been:

Owners of Answers.

This is not something to shy away from.


"There is an art to, “the next question.” It is mystery that fuels passion. It is awe and wonder at the unknown that draws our gaze heavenward."

Above all, I truly believe that there are great questions to be asked, and truly, even greater answers to be had. Both have their rightful place: questions not too arrogant to keep us in a constant state of unknown, and answers not too dismissive to keep us from questioning when it really matters. I can't see why we can't continue to question things, as long as we are also willing to say, "Ok, that settles it." when it is spiritually, mentally, and emotionally pivotal.

And on that note, sometimes those things are vastly different from one person to the next. One person's need to look deeper, does not trump another's need to set a standard. Or vice versa. This is where respect comes into play. I can respect the fact that you haven't settled on an answer yet, if you respect the fact that I have, and will act accordingly.

Because no matter how deep the concept, how unfathomable the mindset, it can still be as plain as the nose on their face---to someone. And they can't change that. Just like I can't change the undeniable truth that I am a girl. Please don't try to change my mind. I have the answer. But if you would like to disagree, I will try to patiently hear out your theory, but I doubt there will be enough exchange of ideas to warrant more questioning on my part.

When we stop acknowledging the fact that we know something to be true, then we also deny the fact that there is a God who designed Truth in the first place. It doesn't mean that there isn't mystery and wonder enough to sustain a person for a lifetime. It simply means that we are Ok...

...with the answers that we are not responsible for establishing,

...and the questions that we were created to be asking.

*With all due respect to Mr. Haseltine, but I am assuming he meant "conjunctions" instead of "pronouns." Conjunctions connect ideas of thought within a sentence, whereas pronouns are specific nouns used to replace a noun by another name. As a self-proclaimed grammarphile, I was a little confused at first, but when I figured out what he meant, the thought's significance rang true.

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