Unasked Questions

For as much of my youth as I can remember, and whenever I could get away with it since, I’ve used the exegetical approach to understanding people in authority over me — pastors and teachers. That is to say, I’ve approached what they say the way I approach books: by mulling over what they just said in light of what they’ve said at other times and trying in that way to draw conclusions on what their overarching concerns and ways of understanding the world are. When there was a point that I just didn’t understand and couldn’t resolve with my own experience and beliefs I would get stuck there, either rejecting what I thought they must mean, or trying in vain to figure out what they might possibly mean that would be true, or at least reasonable. As with a book, I assumed a non-interactive format, but unlike a book it was hard to remember precisely what had been said, which was frustrating. I didn’t occur to me that I could go and ask, because my questions didn’t feel like that kind of question. They were “why are we using this language?” questions, and “what do you mean by that phrase you use all the time?” questions. Things like: “give my whole life to God,” “give over the steering wheel of my life,” have a personal relationship with God,” and similar weighty questions. Then, later, they were educational jargon questions. Why do we have to speak like that? Why do we say we can do all those things? I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who could do all those things. What could you possibly mean by that?

In retrospect, I’m not sure why I felt like I couldn’t ask. I felt, I think, that my way of speaking and the way of speaking I was hearing were so very different that I couldn’t even articulate my confusion. But could I? It might be hard — harder than I think it should be — but, all the same, could I? What would that mean?

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8 thoughts on “Unasked Questions

  1. The innocence of youth which I believe is in part might be where these thoughts might originate. All to often young people will not question authority or just take what is presented to them for “Gospel” When I was young our call to arms was “Don’t trust anyone over 21 years old” I believe that still may hold true today. Granted I am missing that mark by 39 years yet I still don’t trust anyone over 21 years old. With that stated my wisdom I will share is “Question all Question everyone, & yes even Question gravity. But never question your passion and love for all the things you cherish. These are the things that make us smile:)

    • I guess that rules me out of the trustworthy camp as well! But seriously, I like to hope that people get wiser with age, or that they can. I certainly hope that I might — it would be awful to never be any wiser than I was at 21! Or than I am now!

  2. There is the flip side to this: How does someone with experience communicate to someone without experience. I really think leading by example is indispensible if you want to teach someone the answer to a weighty question.

    • That seems right. The Bible says that as well sometimes: it’s better to show one’s commitment to God and others through one’s life than just talking about it. Of course, I have a hard time with that one: I want to talk, and not so much to act! But I have found that sometimes it’s immensely helpful when someone with experience tries to describe it in detail, as though the person they’re talking to doesn’t know anything at all (because often I don’t). I’ve found that with reading St Theophan on prayer, for instance; he goes to great lengths to say things that might be obvious to a person with experience, but may be entirely unknown to a young person trying to learn to pray.

  3. I don’t think wisdom has any relation with age, neither the experience. I guess the way a person approach issues, lets say the way that person deals with his life is what concern. Some people never grow up and some of them have older minds than their age.

    by the way, I’m 21 .. so trust me

  4. There is no wisdom without experience. But experience doesn’t guarantee wisdom. Age does correlate. And yet, wisdom does not make a person good. It helps, but without virtue and without faith, wisdom is merely seasoned knowledge: penetrating eyes without hands,without feet, without voice.

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