Asking the hard questions is never easy --- regardless of who is asking them or what is being asked. This is particularly true when it comes to issues of faith. Yet author David Dark believes there is much to discover about God, ourselves, and our world when we plunge into the more difficult issues of life. He goes as far as to argue that the God of the Bible doesn’t just encourage us to ask questions, He demands it. Dark writes, “The summons to sacred questioning, like a call to honesty, like a call to prayer, is a call to be true and to let the chips fall where they may.”
In THE SACREDNESS OF QUESTIONING EVERYTHING, Dark dives into some of the hot topics of modern faith. He isn’t afraid to tackle challenging issues, the paradoxes of following Christ, and the wonky ways some believers choose to express their beliefs.
In the process, Dark tips over a herd of sacred cows and a few of their owners: “For some, their religion is nothing more than a special interest group, a bastion of offendedness and anger, the powerhouse of he saved rather than a place from which life can be viewed and lived more redemptively.” But what makes Dark’s writing unique is in exposing the closemindedness of his own thinking (as well as the readers), and explores how to overcome and change. Thus, the book is thought-provoking yet full of hope.
In the chapter “Questioning Our Offendedness,” Dark points out how easy it is to both offend and be offended. He says that we must be aware when our “big ideas” --- whether religious, political, or economic --- take a murderous turn and become more important than the people. That’s when we need to recognize the vanity, arrogance and pretensions that have slipped into our own hearts.
What’s the prescription or cure? Dark advocates the long lost art of listening --- really listening to others. He describes a student in one of his high school classes who rebutted and refuted everything he taught. It wasn’t until the student’s senior year when he realized that, though the student pretended not to agree with anything he had taught, the student had been listening --- and some of his teaching had affected him. In the same way, we don’t always know when or how we affect each other through the art of conversation and listening.
One of the endearing qualities of this book is Dark’s love of film, television and literature. While the author is well studied, he draws many of his lessons from the likes of Stephen Colbert, “The Office,” Bridge to Terabithia and Knocked Up, making his writing accessible and enjoyable.
Overall, THE SACREDNESS OF QUESTIONING EVERYTHING is superbly written, and the content will make you think --- and rethink --- much of what you’ve thought before. Every chapter ends with a series of questions for further conversation, making this a great book club read for those who struggle with faith, culture and Christianity.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on March 17, 2009