36 Questions?

Have you heard of the 36 Questions? I just heard about them in Warren Berger’s fascinating new book The Book of Beautiful Questions. With help from fellow researchers several decades ago, psychology student Arthur Aron, including his wife Elaine, began a quest that led him to try to answer this question: How might we, in a laboratory setting, find a way to create instant intimacy between strangers? These sequential questions helped facilitate connection between not only strangers, but with married couples who have lost the initial spark they once knew (it helped to ask the thirty-six questions with another married couple). Also, even people who feel animosity towards one another who are not in a committed relationship have been touched by these 36 Questions (you can find them in the New York Times article To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This by Mandy Len Catron).

Berger tells us that thoughtful questions can empower us to decide, create, connect, and lead better. Jesus was on to this long ago. In fact, Jesus didn’t just ask 36 questions, he asked 307 questions in the Bible. Jesus was always asking penetrating questions to wake us up, get us scratching our heads and hearts, and refocus us on what really matters. So, I’d like to make a question challenge to all of us. Let’s go through not only the 36 questions with family and friends, church members, co-workers, fellow students, and neighbors, but let’s revisit Jesus’ 307 questions (like What does it profit a person to gain the whole world, but lose their soul?). Let’s give the Spirit room to bring healing and better connection in our families, our churches, and our government, and our country—transcending (but not eradicating) our political, philosophical, personal, and religious divides.

Pastor John
Jots and Tittles Blog
Immanuel Presbyterian Church

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