The big question … in search of answers
By Pastor Kara
My oldest daughter was away at camp for environmental education, so it was just the three of us at home on a Thursday evening. We were starting the process of cleaning up from an evening of homework, a few games, and some coloring when my youngest daughter, who is in third grade, asked a big question in the form of a statement.
“What I don’t get is why it is called a fourhead,” she said.
We laughed out loud and then had a discussion (which I’m sure she thought was too long) about four, fore and for. What I love is that she is on the journey of trying to understand the world we live in. She is making statements and asking questions as a part of the journey. She is her way to deeper understandings, which most likely will lead to more questions.
For 10 days in October, the Center for Faith and Spirituality, Diversity Center, Religion Department, and A. W. Clausen Center for World Business sponsored a photo exhibition called “A Peace of My Mind.” More than 50 panels were spread throughout campus, with pictures and statements from a wide variety of people explaining what peace means to them. The people were diverse in age, race, religion, political views, occupation, sexual orientation, economic status, and life experience.
The opening next of the exhibition, the curator of the show, John Noltner, joined us for what we hope will be the first of many dinners where we gather around to ask big questions about important words. The focus of this dinner was peace. What does peace mean to you? Where have you seen peace at work? How can you be a part of bringing peace into the world, your home, your workplace? What do your faith and your beliefs say about peace? How do you find inner peace? So many questions, and not enough time at one meal to answer all of them.
Yet it was enough time to start the ball rolling for us to learn, at Carthage, how to have civil conversation about important issues. It was time for us to practice asking the big questions and listening to others who may think differently on this topic, as we all search for answers.
With so many big questions out there, sometimes it can feel overwhelming to think about them all. What does it mean to be human? What is love? Is there a God? Where is God in the pain of the world? Can I be a scientist and believe in God? Why all this violence? What is the value of work? What does success look like? Who am I? What are my gifts? What is my calling? These are just a few of the questions that are important in my work as the campus pastor at Carthage.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. And, in each discipline of study and administrative office, there are more big questions than I can comprehend being asked every day.
Humanity has been asking the same questions for thousands of years, and it can be frustrating that it still doesn’t seem that we have found the answers or the willpower to live the answers we have found. Yet we must continue to ask these big questions and search for answers today so we are not pulled apart. We must continue on this journey together.
So, what big questions do you need to discuss with your family or friends? What type of dinner dialogues are you willing to have? Maybe you can start with simpler questions — for example, “Why is it called a fourhead?” — as a way to build some trust before diving into the deeper and more challenging questions of meaning and purpose. Ask. Talk. Listen. Learn. You may find you grow in faith, love, understanding and more. And you will definitely have more big questions to ask.
Peace and love,
The Carthaginian is a magazine for Carthage alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College. It is published three times a year by the Carthage Office of Communications. Read the Carthaginian online at www.carthage.edu/carthaginian.