Friday, April 20, 2007

Whoever Said, “There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question” Never Taught Eighth Grade

As an elementary student, I used to mentally roll my eyes when teachers gave the ol’ “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” I was never quite sure what they meant by this. I had heard plenty of Stupid Questions, most of them from my parents’ mouths: “What did you learn in school today?” “Do you want to help make a salad?” “Do you enjoy being miserable?”

And then as an eighth-grade teacher, there was a whole new onslaught of Stupid Questions: “Do I have to do the homework?” Only if you want to pass. “When they say we can’t chew gum, what about the organic kind that automatically disintegrates after about an hour of chewing?” The issue is not that they think you will choke. “How do you know I didn’t use the sources in my bibliography?” If you had used them, you probably would not have done a 5-page research paper on porcupines calling them “porkypines” EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

As a parent, I field Stupid Questions every day: “Do I have to take a nap?” “Can I just have dessert?” “Why is your belly so wrinkled?”

But even worse and far more dangerous than Stupid Questions are Stupid Answers. And sadly, I have been hearing the worst kind of Stupid Answer a lot lately. In the wake of the tragedy this past week in Blacksburg, Virginia, we have vacillated between the two stations our television gets, squinting our eyes and craning our necks to see the local and national news concerning Virginia Tech.

And we can testify that a lot of Stupid Answers have come through that screen. They haven’t been Stupid Answers because they answered Stupid Questions; they have been Stupid Answers because they miserably fail at answering the most serious and most important of questions: “Why?” “What does it all mean?” “How could someone do this?”

Like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, fingers are wildly pointing all over the place. More gun control! Less gun control! More medication! More education! More communication!

We are told that “We are Virginia Tech!,” that “The whole world is our family,” that “Community brings healing.” And while much of this is the sleep-deprived, grief-driven talk of people scrambling to find some sort of platitude that will prove to be the Balm of Gilead, the Truth is not in these platitudes.

Not that it’s too surprising. It is a rare moment when one turns to Channel 4 (or 5, or 6…) to see Truth proclaimed. But what IS alarming is how many pastors, church group members, prayer vigil organizers, etc. are spouting the same kinds of empty platitudes. It grieves me to think that someone is comforted by the size of a prayer vigil – despite the fact that different gods are being petitioned. Why, at a time when it is most sought after, do we withhold the Truth?

"Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.

Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way."
 (Ps. 85:8-13)

I need to speak the Truth to my family. I need to speak the Truth to my neighbors. I need to speak the Truth to those questioning the sanity of our world. It’s not sane! It’s not right! Our familial relations to this world are sadly rooted in our all being fallen sinners with no hope of redemption apart from the righteousness and peace that kissed at the cross. There is no magic number of candles or prayers or ribbons or laws that will take away the sin of this world.

Fortunately, there doesn’t need to be.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

(Eph. 2:13-22)

So yes, I believe there is such a thing as a Stupid Question. But it is nowhere near as devastating as a Stupid Answer.


  1. I really enjoyed your post. I found it extremely interesting and insightful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I wonder how the lost can even go on. I often think of one of Michael Card's songs which has the line, "Remember the hopelessness when you were lost."


  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your suggestions regarding 4 yr old DD. Your blog was well-written and thought provoking. Hope yours is a God-filled weekend!



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