Did anyone know just how incurious the president could be when he marched into the White House eight years ago? When asked to name a mistake he might have made in his first term he couldn’t think of one. Even today there seems to be no sense of acceptance of how the war has gone or how the national debt has grown while the economy has sunk. Incurious might be kind in light of how things have gone for the current occupant.
I get mail labeled “current occupant” nearly every day both at home and at the office. I never look at it because I’m incurious about its contents. The sender must think I’m stupid to read something mailed so innocuously as to not even address it to me with my own name on the label. Impersonal mail is tossed as quickly as if it’s burning my hand. You could accuse me of being incurious and you would be right about that.
Recently, conservative political columnist Kathleen Parker suffered severe censure by her fellow conservatives because she called Gov. Palin incurious, after an interview with Katie Couric, because Palin couldn’t name any newspapers she reads regularly. It was also noted Gov. Palin couldn’t define the Bush Doctrine or name a past U.S. Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed. I’m glad I’m not the one being interviewed by the national news as I too might be accused of being incurious, as I tend to forget things when I’m stressed. Shine the lights in my eyes and my brain freezes up.
Incuriosity could be described about any number of my high school buddies who slept through class or got others to do their homework. I’ve worked with incurious co-workers who had no drive to succeed by being diligent and attentive about what they were asked by the boss to do.
But incuriosity could also be used to describe some of my clergy colleagues. They are among a group of lazy ministers who have no curiosity about how they preach or how they work with others to lead their church to accomplish good things on behalf of the kingdom. Some are incurious enough to not write their own sermons because they mooch their words off the work of others. These ministers preach bland sermons and spend amazing energy dodging conflict as if they can walk between the raindrops and not get wet.
The incuriosity of some of my minister buddies could describe how little time they spend studying or reading simply for the sake of plowing new ground in their understanding of the world. How can one sit at the intersection of faith and life and not be curious? Incuriosity is a terrible term to describe someone! Who knows ”maybe the incurious lack the initiative to even take offense at the label.
But if some ministers are described as incurious, so could some laypersons in the church. These are believers who have quit thinking new thoughts about faith and rely solely on what was handed down to them when they were young. They’ve quit experiencing first-hand the challenge of faith by relying only upon their remembrances of how things were back then. They can recall a time when things were better, but they can’t describe something in the now worth thinking about because they live off the stale crusty bread of the past.
Faith is now or it is not at all. There’s a world still in the process of being recreated as an act of divine holiness every moment. Henry David Thoreau wisely observed: “People talk about Bible miracles because there is no miracle in their lives. Cease to gnaw on that crust. There is ripe fruit over your head.”
The world is constantly in motion, and that can be a metaphor for growth. One can find the sacred in the quickened energy of simple things: sensing the blood coursing in your veins and observing the breath filling and emptying in your lungs and celebrating the joy of being alive in this moment right now, knowing you and God are in rhythm together, exploring each moment as the fresh gift that it is.
Keith D. Herron is senior pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
Intentional interim minister at Countryside Community Church of Omaha, Nebraska, the Christian partner in the Tri-Faith Initiative, a partnership with the American Muslim Institute and Temple Israel. He is author of Living a Narrative Life, Exploring the Power of Stories (Smyth & Helwys, 2019).