"If they leave with more questions than when they entered, you're doing something wrong."
This is my first example of an "anti-quote" or, in other words, a quote which is antithetical to my way of thinking.
I spoke earlier of the summer of 1992 when I was in a summer drama troupe and the opposition we encountered at the camp.
We would often have dinner as a troupe out at cabins and mix it up with the campers, pastors, and others who were there. One pastor pulled me aside during one of these meals and started to tell me how, while he was opposed to our work as a drama troupe, it was nothing personal because he was opposed to drama troupes in principal at the camp. He told me that our work caused more confussion than clarity among the campers by raising all sorts of issues they probably hadn't considered and if "they leave with more questions than when they entered, you're doing something wrong."
Well, he didn't mean to, but he helped me put into words what I'd been thinking for a long time. That's exactly what I want to do. I don't want my work to be about answering questions. I want people to trade in their current questions for deeper and more profound questions.
As an artist and as a pastor this has really been the focus of my work. I think it's a dead end for people in the arts or in religion to offer answers. One, it's presumptuous that I should know the answer for you and, two, I would deny the person the right and responsibility of finding the answers on their own.
Now, that's not to say that I don't believe there are basic values and ideas that need to be conveyed, but, ultimately, as any parent knows, those are incorporated more by personal experience than by being told what they are.
A good example was once when I was doing a round of "ask the pastor" with a group of youth and one teenage girl asked me if it was a sin to wear thong underwear. I started to break down the problem with her, amid much giggling, and when we got to the root of it. It was really about her relationship with her parents. It wasn't about a thong at all or even sexuality, it was about a relationship. Now, with another person it might be a totally different issue. If I answered the question right off the bat we would have never gotten to the deeper issues. In the end, she answered her own question.
40 for 40, #19