South Boulevard, Houston

I’ve been reflecting on the questions that have been important to me at different times during my life, considering how things have moved in and out of my moral imagination.  There have been times when the question of God’s existence or nonexistence was a primary concern.  There have been times when grappling with the Christian tradition (and some of its worst expressions – sanctioning violence, misogyny, racism, homophobia, and neglect of the Earth) was a primary concern.  There have been times when engaging other religious traditions and their truths was a primary concern.  There have been times when learning the roles of ministry and trying to exercise them in artful and healing ways was a primary concern.  It’s a long list, really.  My questions have deepened and changed, casting dappled light and cool shadow on the proverbial spiritual path.

I find this enlivening.

One of my favorite things about our church is its commitment to the deepest existential questions of all.  Everyone is welcome, a point we press on a weekly basis as we count theists and nontheists, traditionalists and skeptics, those who grew up in church and those who were wary, among our number.  We bring different sets of questions; they change as we do over time.  Yet in our sharing of the questions, which strikes me as a communion of sorts, we find nourishment.  Perhaps what sustains us is how real the conversation is.

The knock on the liberal church is that we aren’t always good at coming up with answers or constructing theologies in which to ground ourselves or offer to others.  I appreciate the truth in the rub, but I have found that with a bit of persistence a great many answers are on hand.  The answers are not fully formed, however, they are not without ambiguity, and so they lead to more questions.  In my own case, the answers of liberal Christianity have to do with Jesus’ commitments to prophetic critique, radical inclusivity, and creative nonviolence.  I hear each of these three ideas very clearly in his life and teachings, yet the more I embrace them, the more I am challenged by, you guessed it, questions.

I wonder this week about the state of your own questions.  What questions once occupied you?  How have the questions changed?  Most importantly, what questions do you wrestle with now?

This is theology.

This morning I am holding the following questions:  How am I to raise a boy in the tradition of which we are a part?  What can I do to create a stronger relationship between myself and the natural world upon which I depend?  Why does religion so often lack a sense of humor?

The questions will no doubt change as the days and weeks pass.  But they shape the direction of our moral attention, which is why I ask:  What questions are guiding you, shaping your imagination, offering you trouble or challenge?

With aloha,