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Curiouser and Curiouser

The Rev. Patrick Ward
September 20, 2018

“The Business Case for Curiosity” is the cover story of the September/October issue of the Harvard Business Review. It’s a quick and helpfully indicting read. “Management books commonly encourage leaders assuming new positions to communicate their vision from the start rather than ask employees how they can be helpful.  It’s bad advice” observes HBS professor Francesca Gino. She submits that it’s human nature to refrain from asking questions for “fear we’ll be judged incompetent, indecisive and unintelligent,” and that leaders in particular are “expected to talk and provide answers, not ask questions.”


Lack of curiosity, Gino warns, can kill viable organizations over time. I believe this to be true of churches, and of the life of faith, as well. The healthy pastoral impulse – from your priest but also among and between parishioners, where most care in parishes actually occurs – is all about interest, about asking questions and absorbing answers. Perceived time pressures and stress, as Gino points out, can snuff these impulses.


Curiosity is essential to our relationship with scripture as well. No one knows this better than Duke Divinity School Professor Lauren Winner, who will be with us for a teaching event on Saturday, September 29 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Winner understands that scripture, while “containing everything necessary for salvation,” can also be flummoxing and maddeningly opaque. “Why does God choose to heal the world of its damage through one particular group of people?” she wonders in her recent book, A Word to Live By. What does this show us about how God’s love works? She wants to know – and the answers she arrives at are life-saving.


That animating curiosity is why I love Lauren Winner’s work so much: she is a leader in our faith who is unafraid to ask and explore the obvious questions that I myself am sometimes too preoccupied to confront. I never hear or read her without that feeling of having drunk water from a well that will keep me going into the time to come. “Faith ebbs and flows over the course of a life,” she told us the last time she visited Trinity, in 2012. “Stability is in community and in spiritual practice.” I jotted that one down.  Along with this casual observation from A Word to Live By: “God is wildly free from our expectations of how a god should act.”


So bring your curiosity and be with us for some time with Lauren Winner a week from this Saturday. You can register here, and you’ll be so glad you came!


See you in church!




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