Questions…

I’ve been very honored by the Presbyterians this week. When I was doing a conference recently, Leslie Scanlon showed up. I was so thrilled to meet her. Leslie is a solid reporter, who works with The Presbyterian Outlook. I have read and admired her work for years. She wrote a story on the day that was featured in the magazine this week.

Then I found out that next month, December 4, the Presbyterian Bloggers are going to be talking about Tribal Church. Since I’ve been a member of the blogring for a long time now, I happily agreed to answer questions. So, please, feel free to head on over to the site and ask me some.

Here are a couple of the toughest questions I’ve been asked on my travels:

I have found that people often attend seminars on working with young adults to figure out what’s going on with their own sons and daughters. Often it helps. I regularly have someone come up to me and say, “I never understood why my son did X. Thank you so much for explaining it to me.”

But often, I get the heartbreaking question, “Why doesn’t my daughter go to church? She was raised in the church and now she will have nothing to do with it. What can I do about it?”

And I don’t know. I’m not sure what a parent can do in that situation. There is a bit of spiritual exploring that many people need to do in order to find their own path, instead of simply walking on the same one that their parents do. I waffle around for an answer, usually, but since it’s a specific question, there is often a specific set of circumstances….

I think the best answer emerged from our discussions in East Iowa Presbytery. A pastor’s daughter, who had enough of church by the time she went to college, said she was welcomed back by people other than her parents. It happened with an invitation to lunch after the service and continued interest in her life by people other than her mom and dad. She encouraged church members to do the same.

The other thing that I often encounter is a very deep, “Why?” It happens when I’m running from one class to another. I need to get somewhere on time, and someone will reach out to my sleeve and ask, “Why are young people so depressed? Why is the suicide rate so high? Why….” And you can see, right below the surface of the person’s eyes, that something happened. And they came–with all of their love and pain–to find out why it happened. And, again, I’m never able to do the question any justice. I leave, just praying.

Those are the hard questions. The ones I try to answer, but I know that I can’t always do it. Yet, I am so honored that they came up while I was there. Because, those heart-wrenching questions, drenched with concern, are just the ones we need to be asking.

the photo is by Jody9

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4 thoughts on “Questions…

  1. The more I dig into what I am developing for my dissertation, the more it is clear that it’s not for lack or belief or even desire for faith that causes these questions, there is something structurally missing. I am not sure what that is. But this is the exact question that I was asking myself while reading last night… What’s missing? When kids become adults there is a loss and then an emergence into something different that still requires embrace to continue developing. I wonder if that’s the process that occurred in East Iowa.

  2. We are so very proud of you Carol. Keep up the good work. I know that you are speaking for many unheard quarters of the church. Soon things will be changing and I am grateful to have thoughtful people like you lead us in the midst of these changes.

  3. Thanks, Brian.

    Drew,

    What is missing? That’s a great question. In my book, I try to develop the theory, especially in the third chapter, that with the extremely individualistic economic/political climate that we have grown up in (i.e., “taxes=socialism”), younger generations have been left to flounder (and often drown in debt) on their own. We have been renters, and rarely owners, so we never learned what it means to be a part of a community–economically, politically, or spiritually.

    What are you coming up with when you ask that question?

  4. You’re way too kind, Carol. In my next life, I want to write like you. Hope the book is kicking along. (My deadlines and life are kinda kicking me, but that’s another story….)

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