The Question

From “Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most” by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, and Ryan McAnnally-Linz

Gautama Buddha: the privileged prince who became the venerable founder of one of the world’s great traditions. Simon Peter: the fallible follower of Jesus who became the rock on which the Chrisitan church was built. Ida B. Wells: the stable schoolteacher who became the truth-telling icon of Black and women’s liberation. Three very different people with very different lives. What their stories share is an experience that put the shape of their lives into question. What had been normal and assumed became questionable. Something – maybe everything – had to change.

Implicit in these experiences was a fundamental, hard-to-articulate question. There are countless ways to try to express it: What matters most? What is a good life? What is the shape of flourishing life? What kind of life is worthy of our humanity? What is true life? What is right and true and good?

None of these phrasings captures it completely. The question they try to articulate always exceeds them. It always escapes full definition. But that doesn’t make it any less real or any less important. Hard as it is to pin down, it is the Question of our lives. The Question is about worth, value, good and bad and evil, meaning, purpose, final aims and ends, beauty, truth, justice, what we owe one another, what the world is and who we are and how we live. It is about the success of our lives or their failure.