Text: Matthew 18:21-35
“There is no such thing as a dumb question.” How many times have you heard that line in your life? Teachers, especially, are fond of using this phrase but it has a shelf life way beyond the classroom. The quote comes from Carl Sagan’s work, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. The full quote goes like this: “There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”
It seems that this quote has divided people into two camps: those that truly believe there is no such thing as a dumb question and those who challenge that thinking and say that, indeed, there are dumb questions. The latter group suggests that there are three types of questions that fall into the category of dumb questions.
- Those questions that have already been answered, but the asker wasn’t listening or paying attention.
- Questions that can be answered with a scant amount of research and less than a minute of time.
- Questions of which the answer should be painfully obvious to any person with a pulse who has lived on this earth for more than a decade.
(Mandy Feder, Ink Out Loud) [Read more…]
Text: Psalm 24
Carl Jung said that at the core of our life journey is one question we are born to pursue. In reflecting on Jung’s insight, eco-philosopher and activist Joanna Macy says this: “The one question threading through my life here on this beautiful Earth is about how to be fully present to my world – present enough to rejoice and be useful – while we as a species are progressively destroying it.”
These are hard days for our planet. Our climate is clearly changing and there are still many in positions of power who deny this. Even in the midst of the current storms, some leaders are saying now is not the time to talk about the human-induced warming of the earth. I’ve read that a few religious leaders actually blame the storms on things like Houston having had a lesbian mayor or Disney World being too gay-friendly. Ironically, many others who usually offer similar wisdom about God’s role in causing natural disasters are suddenly silent now. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that many of their climate-change-denier compatriots live in Texas and Florida. In response to all of this blaming, one progressive activist said these hurricanes are God’s way of demanding that we stop changing the climate by our greed and disregard for the planet.
In these moments I think it’s important to recognize that these destructive storms are not only destroying property and taking human lives. They are also damaging fragile ecosystems. Nature is wounding itself in increasingly dangerous ways because things are out of balance. I believe it’s because we humans – or, more specifically, we comfortable, first-world humans – have tipped the scales in our favor. We have disregarded the impact of our need for comfort and convenience on our Mother Earth.
Today as we worship in God’s beautiful creation, Psalm 24 reminds us that the earth does not belong to us. The traditional translation says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…” Nan Merrill’s adaptation Bryan read for us says, “The earth is yours, O Giver of Life, in all its fullness and glory…!” Like most of the psalms, these are words filled with passion. In fact, there is a great deal of variety and freedom in the composition of individual psalms. Yet all express deep emotions. The writers of the psalms were passionate people who tried to communicate the longings of their hearts. They wrote poem-prayers and set them to music intended to be sung by the worshipping community. [Read more…]