Living with Paradox: Learning to be Serious About the Questions

Living with Paradox: Learning to be Serious About the Questions August 26, 2012

Some Sunday Wisdom from Richard Rohr:

I don’t think the important thing is to be certain about answers nearly as much as being serious about the questions.

When we hold spiritual questions, we meet and reckon with our contradictions, with our own dilemmas; and we invariably arrive at a turning point where we either evade God or meet God. Mere answers close down the necessary struggle too quickly, too glibly, and too easily.

When we hang on the horns of dilemmas with Christ—between perfect consistency and necessary contradictions—we find ourself in the unique place I call “liminal space.” Reality has a cruciform shape to it then—and we are taught best at the intersection of order and disorder, where God alone can make sense out of the situation and we must surrender. All real transformation of persons takes place when we’re inside of such liminal space—with plenty of questions that are open to God and grace and growth.

Adapted from Holding the Tension: The Power of Paradox


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  • I loved how Henri Nouwen expressed this idea in Spiritual Direction. What freedom. What permission to live! Now, no part of reality (questions, answers, weakness, strength, pain, pleasure) should alone define us, lest we disappear into a partial, distorted reality. Uncontrolled, The Question can rule and ruin us; under proper mastery, though, it is a beast of strength and beauty.