The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith
The reality is that we ask questions based on our experiences past and present. Are we really wanting well thought out answers? Do we just want the answer that will make us happy? I think these are important questions no matter where you are in life and is a main point in the early chapters of this book. I think another point of The End of Our Exploring worth noting is his emphasis on questioning in a community. He talks about the need of a community to pass along its traditions and the questions that go along with that tradition, which I think is a great insight.
He seems to as well since he has a whole chapter dedicated to that kind of questioning too. The reason why I think that this idea of communal inquiry is important is that it helps us run into the questions of others. This helps us sharpen our own questions, help others question well, search for answers, and look at the answers we already have when we disagree with them. So the types of people we are inquiring with should reflect that to some degree. The ideas of questioning our questions and inquiring within a community are two ideas that really popped out at me in the book. Regardless, I think that searching for answers within a community is important whether you call it inquiry or dialogue.
I also think that Anderson is right in saying that some authority has to be recognized to get anywhere with this process. I think this book does more right than wrong. I think Matthew Lee Anderson does a great job at bringing up the issues around questioning. Who do I think would enjoy this book? Honestly anyone who wants to take questioning of their faith seriously. This book is somewhat easy to read, but moderately hard to digest. It may surprise you how easy the book reads, except for maybe when you hit a big vocabulary word like ossifies.
While the sentences by themselves may be easy to read they form ideas that take a little bit of thinking through when put together. Not because it gives you the answers, but because it might help you sort out how you should be questioning. It reminds me of a beautiful tapestry. This work may be frayed around the edges in places, but the picture it presents is not undone because of it. Maybe it would have been even better without the flaws, but it can still be appreciated and admired for what it is. Feb 07, mpsiple rated it really liked it. Very good.
More about the nature of doubts and questioning than trying to provide all the answers. I appreciated Anderson's framing of the questioning process - that at its best, it concerns our longings and the hope for answers. The fundamentalist impulse to stamp out questions betrays a frailty and a lack of confidence that our faith can withstand scrutiny. But Anderson also warns that our questions are never neutral, a Very good.
But Anderson also warns that our questions are never neutral, and therefore we must question ourselves and our motives as well. Recommended for anyone interested in learning how to think about doubts their own and others'. He also has some helpful thoughts on engaging the skeptic. Quality Musings Perhaps not my favorite, but definitely the best book I have read this year.
Anderson, as if to make the theme of the book the substance itself, does not come to many hard conclusions. If you want a manual on questioning and the Christian faith, this book won't be for you. But if you want great food for thought on curiosity by a curious man, this book will almost certainly satisfy. A Refreshing Book Here is a book that was a refreshing change to a lot of what I read. It is a call to slow down and ask more questions not from a position of skepticism but from a position of faith. Jun 04, Emily Zell rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites.
This book is so beautiful and so deep.
I loved every page. Please go read it. Oct 25, Jonathon Moore rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Great book exploring what the life of questioning means for the Christian. Aug 24, Ron rated it liked it. This book is just plain weird. I get the feeling the authors heart is in the right place, but there are some really strange vibes running through it. I think it might be a beneficial text if one is coming from a worldview where any question beyond the Sunday school canned answer is viewed in a scandalous light.
He then uses these high views as a baseline upon which he provides scaffolds for "proper" questioning. In doing so, the author promotes a less dangerous path of exploring faith while minimizing the potential of going down the seemingly rabbit hole to nowhere. The way in which he does this is likely not going to appeal to the skeptic and may well throw up a multitude of red flags for others outside his particular worldviews.
Ie, I see the potential for abusive practices and passive aggressive behaviorisms running in and out of the text like rabbits Certainly it is a better approach than one of avoidance or anti-intellectualism, but it seems to lean far more towards a theology of glory than I'm comfortable advocating.
Along the theology of glory domain, a common premise of the author appears to be one of "whats in it for me". How do I question for greater understanding for my walk with Christ, rather than one of questioning from the domains of skepticism and doubt. While on an individual Christian level, such may be a good thing, I seriously wonder how it impacts empathy as concerns others in the skepticism and doubt domain. To me, it looks like yet another path to circular apologetics which are helpful to the choir, but not so much for anyone else.
Granted, there are many parts of the body of Christ, one size doesn't fit all. I realize I come down hard on the theology of glory and worldview thing, but to give the author a benefit of a doubt, I think there is likely a cultural aspect involved. He presents a chapter of how to survive a Christian College Alas, as concerns matter of faith, the wisdom he presents has value for both.
Bottom line, there are bits of greatness and items to ponder spread throughout the text, with ever increasing relevance to entire body of Christ as the page numbers increase. Its not the sort of text I'd recommend due to the theology of glory leanings and aforementioned red flags, but for Christian cultures where such is not as problematic, it might well be worth checking out.
Jul 04, C. Stunkard rated it really liked it. The book opens very well, with Matthew taking the lecture approach of first asserting the value of questions themselves then providing a preview of all that he intends to tell us about them, chapter by chapter. This section is immensely strong, and the rest of the book follows suit, embracing the inquisitive mind of the truth-seeker while also tempering it with a dose of examination to ensure that the questioner is not driven by selfish ambition or vain conceit but a genuine desire for truth an The book opens very well, with Matthew taking the lecture approach of first asserting the value of questions themselves then providing a preview of all that he intends to tell us about them, chapter by chapter.
This section is immensely strong, and the rest of the book follows suit, embracing the inquisitive mind of the truth-seeker while also tempering it with a dose of examination to ensure that the questioner is not driven by selfish ambition or vain conceit but a genuine desire for truth an understanding. Matthew presents himself well as not only a teacher but also a fellow learner, jumping between roles as necessary within the chapters, exhorting his readers at one point and expressing his own lessons learned at another.
This ability in conjunction with a number of footnotes that are both self-depreciating and rather charming make the book's content accessible, even while it is dense. And I mean that in the best sense of the word. The End of Our Exploring is a full book, one that contains both many quotable sentences "As Christians, we do not possess the truth; we live within it and are possessed by it. His analysis of the cheapness of facts due to the pervasiveness of information [p71] is perhaps one of the most astute things I've read this year. The book contains many such cultural analyses as well as personal anecdotes and mindful observations about not only the nature of questioning but life itself and their inherent relationship.
By the end of the book, when matters become a bit more practical and concrete, Matthew is on fire as an author, both in terms of his content and communication. He provides excellent insight into how individuals can dialogue well despite their disagreements and how they can question within those dialogues and through those disagreements. These grammatical choices are pet peeves of mine, and in two out of three books I would not be overly bothered, but Matthew's work is so well-written that these specific shortfalls likely done to make the work more accessible are jarring each time I encounter them.
In the end, I still think this is a great book, and I am sure that those who are more forgiving of the aforementioned grammatical faux pas will have nothing but good things to say. The End of Our Exploring can be purchased on Amazon. Jun 12, Charissa rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. I received an advance copy of this book in return for writing this review. My opinion of this book is just that - my honest opinion. When I read I could receive an advance copy for review I jumped on the opportunity because the title seemed a title for a book that would be of interest to me.
I have been a christian for a few years now, but my journey has not been the homecoming I first imagined it would be. Even last year when I got baptised as an act of obedience, because that naturally flows f I received an advance copy of this book in return for writing this review. Even last year when I got baptised as an act of obedience, because that naturally flows from believing I had my questions. I hoped this book would give a clearcut answer to some of my questions.
It didn't. It did something very different but equally worthwhile, though. It validated my questioning while teaching me a lot about the process and the rights and wrongs of questioning.
I rate this book four stars because it has proven to be a very interesting, challeinging and enlightening read. I did not rate it four stars as Goodread's rating system implies because I 'really liked' the book. I liked it, but I didn't really like it. It's a challenging read, both with regard to the actual reading difficult words, I can't remember having to look up so many words in any books written during the last 50 or so years as the topic it explores.
Who would I suggest this book to? First of all to anyone who takes their beliefs seriously and because of that also questions those beliefs at times. I think this book would be an especially useful read for pastors or Bible study teachers and small group leaders. One way I empathize with African-American clients is, first and foremost, to be a genuine person not just a counselor or clinician. The client may begin the relationship asking questions about you the person, not the professional, in an attempt to locate you in the world. It's as if the client's internal dialog says, "As you try to understand me, by what pathways, perspectives, life experiences, and values are you coming to that understanding of me?
Where are you from? What part of town do you live in? Who are your folks? Are you married? Motivation for change is enhanced when clients perceive discrepancies between their current situation and their hopes for the future.
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Your task is to help focus your client's attention on how current behavior differs from ideal or desired behavior. Discrepancy is initially highlighted by raising your clients' awareness of the negative personal, familial, or community consequences of a problem behavior and helping them confront the substance use that contributed to the consequences. Although helping a client perceive discrepancy can be difficult, carefully chosen and strategic reflecting can underscore incongruities.
Separate the behavior from the person and help your client explore how important personal goals e.
This requires you to listen carefully to your client's statements about values and connections to community, family, and church. If the client shows concern about the effects of personal behavior, highlight this concern to heighten the client's perception and acknowledgment of discrepancy.
Once a client begins to understand how the consequences or potential consequences of current behavior conflict with significant personal values, amplify and focus on this discordance until the client can articulate consistent concern and commitment to change. One useful tactic for helping a client perceive discrepancy is sometimes called the "Columbo approach" Kanfer and Schefft, This approach is particularly useful with a client who prefers to be in control.
Essentially, the clinician expresses understanding and continuously seeks clarification of the client's problems but appears unable to perceive any solution.
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A stance of uncertainty or confusion can motivate the client to take control of the situation by offering a solution to the clinician Van Bilsen, Tools other than talking can be used to reveal discrepancy. For example, show a video and then discuss it with the client, allowing the client to make the connection to his own situation. Juxtaposing different media messages or images that are meaningful to a client can also be effective. This strategy may be particularly effective for adolescents because it provides stimulation for discussion and reaction.
You can help your client perceive discrepancy on a number of different levels, from physical to spiritual, and in different domains, from attitudinal to behavioral. To do this, it is useful to understand not only what an individual values but also what the community values.
The Confidence Gap - The Atlantic
For example, substance use might conflict with the client's personal identity and values; it might conflict with the values of the larger community; it might conflict with spiritual or religious beliefs; or it might conflict with the values of the client's family members.
Thus, discrepancy can be made clear by contrasting substance-using behavior with the importance the clients ascribe to their relationships with family, religious groups, and the community. The client's cultural background can affect perceptions of discrepancy. For example, African-Americans may regard addiction as "chemical slavery," which may conflict with their ethnic pride and desire to overcome a collective history of oppression.
Moreover, African-Americans may be more strongly influenced than white Americans by the expressed values of a larger religious or spiritual community. In a recent focus group study with adolescents, African-American youths were much more likely than other youths to view cigarette smoking as conflicting with their ethnic pride Luke, They pointed to this conflict as an important reason not to smoke.
Sometimes I use what I refer to as the Columbo approach to develop discrepancy with clients. In the old "Columbo" TV series, Peter Falk played a detective who had a sense of what had really occurred but used a somewhat bumbling, unassuming Socratic style of querying his prime suspect, strategically posing questions and making reflections to piece together a picture of what really happened.
As the pieces began to fall into place, the object of Columbo's investigation would often reveal the real story. You may occasionally be tempted to argue with a client who is unsure about changing or unwilling to change, especially if the client is hostile, defiant, or provocative. However, trying to convince a client that a problem exists or that change is needed could precipitate even more resistance.
If you try to prove a point, the client predictably takes the opposite side. Arguments with the client can rapidly degenerate into a power struggle and do not enhance motivation for beneficial change. When it is the client, not you, who voices arguments for change, progress can be made.
The goal is to "walk" with clients i. A common area of argument is the client's unwillingness to accept a label such as "alcoholic" or " drug abuser. Accusing clients of being in denial or resistant or addicted is more likely to increase their resistance than to instill motivation for change. We advocate starting with clients wherever they are, and altering their self-perceptions, not by arguing about labels, but through substantially more effective means Miller and Rollnick, , p.
Although this conflicts with some clinicians' belief that clients must be persuaded to self-label, the approach advocated in the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous AA is that labels are not to be imposed AA, Rather, it is a personal decision of each individual. Arguments are counterproductive. Defending breeds defensiveness. Resistance is a signal to change strategies.
Labeling is unnecessary. Resistance is a legitimate concern for the clinician because it is predictive of poor treatment outcomes and lack of involvement in the therapeutic process. One view of resistance is that the client is behaving defiantly. Another, perhaps more constructive, viewpoint is that resistance is a signal that the client views the situation differently.
This requires you to understand your client's perspective and proceed from there. Resistance is a signal to you to change direction or listen more carefully. Resistance actually offers you an opportunity to respond in a new, perhaps surprising, way and to take advantage of the situation without being confrontational. Adjusting to resistance is similar to avoiding argument in that it offers another chance to express empathy by remaining nonjudgmental and respectful, encouraging the client to talk and stay involved.
Try to avoid evoking resistance whenever possible, and divert or deflect the energy the client is investing in resistance toward positive change. How do you recognize resistance? Figure depicts four common behaviors that indicate that a client is resisting treatment. How do you avoid arguing and, instead, adapt to resistance? Miller and colleagues have identified and provided examples of at least seven ways to react appropriately to client resistance Miller and Rollnick, ; Miller et al.
These are described below. The simplest approach to responding to resistance is with nonresistance, by repeating the client's statement in a neutral form. This acknowledges and validates what the client has said and can elicit an opposite response. Another strategy is to reflect the client's statement in an exaggerated form--to state it in a more extreme way but without sarcasm.
This can move the client toward positive change rather than resistance. Client: I don't know why my wife is worried about this. I don't drink any more than any of my friends. A third strategy entails acknowledging what the client has said but then also stating contrary things she has said in the past. This requires the use of information that the client has offered previously, although perhaps not in the same session. Clinician: You can see that there are some real problems here, but you're not willing to think about quitting altogether.
You can defuse resistance by helping the client shift focus away from obstacles and barriers. This method offers an opportunity to affirm your client's personal choice regarding the conduct of his own life. Clinician: You're way ahead of me. We're still exploring your concerns about whether you can get into college. We're not ready yet to decide how marijuana fits into your goals. A subtle strategy is to agree with the client, but with a slight twist or change of direction that propels the discussion forward.
Client: Why are you and my wife so stuck on my drinking? What about all her problems? You'd drink, too, if your family were nagging you all the time. Clinician: You've got a good point there, and that's important. There is a bigger picture here, and maybe I haven't been paying enough attention to that. It's not as simple as one person's drinking. I agree with you that we shouldn't be trying to place blame here. Drinking problems like these do involve the whole family. A good strategy to use when a client denies personal problems is reframing--offering a new and positive interpretation of negative information provided by the client.
Reframing "acknowledges the validity of the client's raw observations, but offers a new meaning Client: My husband is always nagging me about my drinking--always calling me an alcoholic. It really bugs me. Clinician: It sounds like he really cares about you and is concerned, although he expresses it in a way that makes you angry.
Maybe we can help him learn how to tell you he loves you and is worried about you in a more positive and acceptable way. In another example, the concept of relative tolerance to alcohol provides a good opportunity for reframing with problem drinkers Miller and Rollnick, Many heavy drinkers believe they are not alcoholics because they can "hold their liquor. Thus, reframing is not only educational but sheds new light on the client's experience of alcohol. Momentum can be used to good advantage. Perceptions can be shifted. New perspectives are invited but not imposed. The client is a valuable resource in finding solutions to problems.
One more strategy for adapting to client resistance is to "side with the negative"--to take up the negative voice in the discussion. This is not "reverse psychology," nor does it involve the ethical quandaries of prescribing more of the symptom, as in a "therapeutic paradox. If your client is ambivalent, your taking the negative side of the argument evokes a "Yes, but Be cautious, however, in using this too early in treatment or with depressed clients.
Client: Well, I know some people think I drink too much, and I may be damaging my liver, but I still don't believe I'm an alcoholic or in need of treatment. Clinician: We've spent considerable time now going over your positive feelings and concerns about your drinking, but you still don't think you are ready or want to change your drinking patterns. Maybe changing would be too difficult for you, especially if you really want to stay the same.
Anyway, I'm not sure you believe you could change even if you wanted to. Many clients do not have a well-developed sense of self-efficacy and find it difficult to believe that they can begin or maintain behavioral change. Improving self-efficacy requires eliciting and supporting hope, optimism, and the feasibility of accomplishing change. This requires you to recognize the client's strengths and bring these to the forefront whenever possible.
Unless a client believes change is possible, the perceived discrepancy between the desire for change and feelings of hopelessness about accomplishing change is likely to result in rationalizations or denial in order to reduce discomfort. Because self-efficacy is a critical component of behavior change, it is crucial that you as the clinician also believe in your clients' capacity to reach their goals. Discussing treatment or change options that might still be attractive to clients is usually helpful, even though they may have dropped out of other treatment programs or returned to substance use after a period of being substance free.
It is also helpful to talk about how persons in similar situations have successfully changed their behavior. Other clients can serve as role models and offer encouragement. Nonetheless, clients must ultimately come to believe that change is their responsibility and that long-term success begins with a single step forward. The AA motto, "one day at a time," may help clients focus and embark on the immediate and small changes that they believe are feasible. Education can increase clients' sense of self-efficacy.
Credible, understandable, and accurate information helps clients understand how substance use progresses to abuse or dependency. Making the biology of addiction and the medical effects of substance use relevant to the clients' experience may alleviate shame and guilt and instill hope that recovery can be achieved by using appropriate methods and tools. A process that initially feels overwhelming and hopeless can be broken down into achievable small steps toward recovery. Belief in the possibility of change is an important motivator. The client is responsible for choosing and carrying out personal change.
There is hope in the range of alternative approaches available. We human beings had no say in existing—we just opened our eyes and found ourselves here. We have a fundamental need to understand who we are and the world we live in. Reason takes us a long way, but mystery remains. When our minds and senses are baffled, faith can seem justified—but faith is not knowledge. In Ultimate Questions , acclaimed philosopher Bryan Magee provocatively argues that we have no way of fathoming our own natures or finding definitive answers to the big questions we all face.
With eloquence and grace, Magee urges us to be the mapmakers of what is intelligible, and to identify the boundaries of meaningfulness. He traces this tradition of thought to his chief philosophical mentors—Locke, Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer—and shows why this approach to the enigma of existence can enrich our lives and transform our understanding of the human predicament.