Vintage Saints and Sinners by Karen Wright Marsh, Free for CAPC Members
In Vintage Saints and Sinners, Karen Wright Marsh manages to emphasize the vast goodness of spiritual giants while also humanizing them.
Thinking, it turns out, is exhausting. Oh sure, not everyone would agree with that. But for many people today, the act of thinking deeply can prove almost too much. Perhaps it is because we are surrounded with stuff all the time and our brains are tired. Or maybe it’s because we’re bombarded with news at all hours of the day and it’s our hearts that are tired. Or possibly it’s just because we’re simply too busy and so our bodies are tired. Whatever the reason, there seems to be a prevailing spirit among us that is resistant to considering the deeper, harder questions of life. We are intellectually, emotionally, and physically exhausted people. And yet despite how hard deeper thought can be for us or how tired we may be in our daily lives, the questions remain.Live the Questions shows us that we don’t have to scramble for answers, or even fear them. We can live in those questions and grow closer to the Lord and others in the process.
It’s into this context that Jeffrey F. Keuss writes his book, Live the Questions: How Searching Shapes Our Convictions and Commitments. Keuss has been teaching for over thirty years and has watched his students wrestle with the weight of unanswered, and unasked, questions. He sees what it’s like to grow up and live in a time of political confusion, social unrest, and media overload. He knows how difficult life can be without answers, but more than that, he sees how shaky life can be without the questions themselves.
Keuss knows something that many people don’t: that asking the hard questions of life, deeply pondering their substance, and even sitting at length with the silence of no answers is not just good for our minds, it is strength to our souls. He says,
By asking better questions and learning to have faith amid doubts, we can learn to trust in our relationships with God, with others, and with creation over our need for certainty at all costs. Through the chapters of this book, you will encounter examples of questions asked by people of faith in the Bible, and you’ll glimpse how asking questions like theirs can offer a pathway to something beyond a despairing “that is all” result in the journey of faith.
Live the Questions is an invitation for us to sit with the deep questions of life, questions that have been asked since that first moment in the garden, questions that have reverberated throughout all of time and human history. In each chapter of the book, Keuss examines a question asked by someone in Scripture starting with the most important question of all asked by God himself, “Where are you?” He then guides his readers through the question and the thoughts behind it, encouraging us to take time to sit and think about what we are reading; to not just push forward for answers but to live in the question as well.
Within the chapters he looks at such questions as who am I? What’s our responsibility? And how can I know? He deals with themes of uncertainty, doubt, loss, fear, work, shame, and community. And while he presents these questions, he does not leave the reader to fend for themselves. He guides us through them, not forcing answers, but looking deeply and inviting us to do the same:
People are often hesitant to ask deep questions simply because they fear that the world will change for the worse if they get an answer they don’t like or expect. But in truth, our faith can be a frame, like a sculpture, through which we can view this weary, broken, yet beautiful world—our neighbors near and far, the ideas that have been born throughout the centuries, the astonishing array of culture that God’s Spirit has inspired across time and place—as part of the marvelous, awe-inspiring reality that is part of the kingdom of God.
Keuss has written a timely, encouraging, important book. Life is hard and exhausting, but thinking through the deeper, necessary, important questions of life doesn’t have to be. Live the Questions shows us that we don’t have to scramble for answers, or even fear them. We can live in those questions and grow closer to the Lord and others in the process.
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