A Curious Faith

The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and We Wish Someone Would Ask Us

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Pub Date 02 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 20 Aug 2022

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Description

God created us to be curious. We innately wonder about the world, one another, ourselves, and our Creator. But fear of the unknown, cultural taboos, technology, or even church leaders can smother our curiosity.

Popular writer Lore Ferguson Wilbert has belonged to Christian communities that discouraged curiosity. The point of the Christian life was to have the right answers, and asking questions reflected a wavering faith. But Wilbert came to discover that the Bible is a permission slip to anyone who wants to ask questions.

Reflecting her own theological trajectory toward a more contemplative, expansive faith, Wilbert invites readers to foster curiosity as a spiritual habit. This book explores questions God asks us, questions we ask God, and questions we ask each other. Christianity is not about knowing good answers, says Wilbert, but about asking good questions--ones that foster deeper intimacy with God and others.

A Curious Faith invites readers to go beyond pat answers and embrace curiosity, rather than certainty, as a hallmark of authentic faith. Foreword by Seth Haines.

God created us to be curious. We innately wonder about the world, one another, ourselves, and our Creator. But fear of the unknown, cultural taboos, technology, or even church leaders can smother our...


Advance Praise

“There are two familiar temptations today: to fear questions and to idolize them. Lore Ferguson Wilbert has done neither in this gentle, honest, and wise book. Stepping into the beleaguered shoes of the prophets, the psalmists, and the perplexed disciples, Wilbert invites readers into the human experience of faith. Her words are a salve to those of us who wonder, who wait, who impatiently watch for the One who is—and is yet to come.”—Jen Pollock Michel, author of A Habit Called Faith and Surprised by Paradox

A Curious Faith is a beautiful culmination of Lore’s ministry. For years she has invited readers to probe the depths of God—and to engage in self-reflection—with a courage that could only be Spirit-led. This book does not provide definitive answers on every musing but does offer a winsome theology of curiosity, of questioning, and of faith that the answers will come, by and by.”—Jasmine L. Holmes, author of Carved in Ebony: Lessons from the Black Women Who Shape Us

“We need more writers like Lore Ferguson Wilbert, ones who gently guide us into the grooves of a well-worn faith, the kind acquainted with doubt. Her words invite us to spread our arms out wide beneath the canopy of curiosity, to take a walk along the curved pattern of the question mark, and to breathe in deep the mystery of God.”—Emily P. Freeman, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Next Right Thing

“In a world filled with people who think they have all the answers, we desperately need more individuals who know the importance of asking the right questions. Lore Ferguson Wilbert is just such a person. As Lore shows both through her life and in these pages, a strong faith doesn’t just allow questions; it demands them. A curious faith is a robust faith. This invitation to ask good questions will encourage and strengthen you—and your faith.”—Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

“Lore is innately curious, unafraid of hard questions. She follows her curiosity like a sort of map, sometimes discovering firm and solid answers, sometimes discovering more questions. But time and time again, her curiosity seems to lead to the same conclusion: even in our uncertainty, or doubt, or confusion, there is a God who welcomes us into his love—questions and all. That’s what this book is all about.”—Seth Haines (from the foreword)

“There are two familiar temptations today: to fear questions and to idolize them. Lore Ferguson Wilbert has done neither in this gentle, honest, and wise book. Stepping into the beleaguered shoes of...


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Featured Reviews

What a beautiful writer Lore Ferguson Wilbert is. I totally loved her first book Handle With Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry, so was eager to read her new book and was not disappointed. Lore has had so many reasons in her life to question the goodness of God and this is an openly honest book about her walk of faith and her moments of doubt. Through the lives of bible characters she teaches us that a questioning faith isn’t a weak faith but a strong healthy one and that God welcomes our questions and grows us through them. Sometimes our questions lead to more questions but ultimately they lead us deeper into God and he is always there willing to listen and love.

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Interesting Mix Of Rachel Held Evans And Max Lucado. This book is perfect for fans of the late Rachel Held Evans who miss her type of voice and are looking for someone who can write in that type of mindset. Better, for those who disagreed with Evans' more liberal positions, is that Wilbert doesn't expose any of those here. Instead, Wilbert writes in a more inviting style very similar to Max Lucado's, making her points but also asking the reader to consider a lot of questions and their own answers to them. And yet Wilbert retains the essence of the questioning faith and openness that brought so many of us to Evans. She is open about her struggles as someone who was single into her 30s, who then has actively tried to have children only to suffer through several miscarriages and, now in her 40s, begins to realize that one thing she so wanted may not be in the cards for her family. And so, she questions. But she questions with a yearning, with a hope, that - again turning to the Evans reference - was so evident in Searching for Sunday and is what ultimately made this reader such a fan of Evans. Ultimately the only mars on this incredible work were two issues that I am on a one-man crusade to stamp out any time I see them: prooftexting and discussions of COVID. In each case, my only real weapon in this crusade is a one-star deduction, and thus the two stars removed here. But truly, don't let that deter you from reading this otherwise exceptional book - particularly if you don't mind either or both of the above issues. Very much recommended.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert's words have long been a balm for my soul, and this new venture is no exception. She is gracious with her curiosity and generous in the way she writes about people. This is a book I will recommend over and over, and refer back to in spiritually dry times in my life when I need encouragement. So glad she shares her gift of wisdom and words with the world! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC!

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For the one who is doubting, wondering, questioning, or curious. For the one who is afraid of asking, fearful of whether they can voice their questions at all. For the one navigating the murky middle.

A few quotes from A Curious Faith that give you a small taste:

“The Bible is a permission slip for those with questions.”

“We think we know the right answers, when really God cares more that we ask the right questions.”

“I believe God can do something with my doubts, and my belief in that is bigger than my doubt itself.”

“Asking a question is an act of faith: faith that we could be answered, or that we won’t be refused, or that we will like the answer, or, if we don’t, that it will lead to a better question. To ask a question is to hope that what we currently know isn’t the whole story. It’s a gamble that we deep down want to win. If we don’t make space for curiosity in the Christian life, we will become content with a one-dimensional god, a god made more in our own image than the God who made us in his image. If we don’t make space for self-reflection, we will become content with a picture of ourselves instead of the core of who we are in him. If we don’t make space for deep and vulnerable times of asking questions or being asked them by friends who love us, we will find our relationships flat and lifeless.”

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is someone I have followed on the internet for a few years and read her previous book, she is a wonderful writer and also makes you think, which is a good thing. I never want someone to tell me how to think but to point me to how and where. In her newest book A Curious Faith – The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and We Wish Someone Would Ask Us does just that, makes you think through questions. Questions that God has asked in the Bible, questions you have or others may ask.

This from the book really summarizes what you are getting into when you read this book: “Asking a question is an act of faith: faith that we could be answered, or that we won’t be refused, or that we will like the answer, or, if we don’t, that it will lead to a better question. To ask a question is to hope that what we currently know isn’t the whole story. It’s a gamble that we deep down want to win. If we don’t make space for curiosity in the Christian life, we will become content with a one-dimensional god, a god made more in our own image than the God who made us in his image. If we don’t make space for self-reflection, we will become content with a picture of ourselves instead of the core of who we are in Him. If we don’t make space for deep and vulnerable times of asking questions or being asked them by friends who love us, we will find our relationships flat and lifeless.”

This is a book for the newbie Christian, the Christian going through doubts, questioning things, and/or wandering in faith. The author does this through her experience and Scripture. I found the parts she shared about herself very relatable! I really appreciate the emphasis on Scripture and turning to God that she uses in the book. I have a lot of highlights and notes from the book, so you know it is a worthy read!

I only wish that I read it from a hard-copy and not an e-book version, so at some point I will plan to purchase the hard-copy of the book, it will make a great reread to go through again, taking more time looking at the questions and answering them. I also feel this would be a good one to gift to someone struggling and asking why God.

Much thanks to NetGallery for providing me with a kindle version to review.

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I found Lore in Instagram and immediately felt so safe in her sphere of influence. She speaks with a wisdom and embodiment that holds space for others. I read and loved her previous book on touch and have been looking so forward to reading this new book. I was not disappointed. She reminds us that bravely asking questions is safe. That the God who loves us welcomes (and questions us back!) in a relationship not based on us believing all the right things or getting everything right but rather on who God is and how much he loves us. That some questions may never be answered but life flows from the asking anyways. “Curiosity is a discipline of the spiritual sort”. And I have found that to be true in my life and I love this book for companioning me in that journey.

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I've been following Lore's 'Sayable' blog for at least six years, and when her first book 'Handle with Care' came out, I rushed to buy it because her words have wisdom. And when presented with the ability to be part of the launch team for 'A Curious Faith', I jumped on the opportunity.
She finds a striking balance of vulnerability and reflection, while continuously and consistently pointing out the character of God and how He relates to us. Lore doesn't hesitate to pull back the curtain on what she's wrestled with and how she's felt in seasons, and I very much appreciate her transparency. She also skillfully shows that the biblical stories we may have heard from childhood on are filled with real people, with real emotions, and with actions and reactions that we ourselves would also make were we in the same circumstances.
I am eagerly awaiting having the physical copy of the book in my hands as my kindle edition is so very highlighted - I know that this book, if read with an open heart, will be transformative. Especially to those of us who have walked a faith journey for a number of years and find it difficult to embrace curiosity and questions.
Buy the book. You won't regret it.

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In A Curious Faith, Lore Ferguson Wilbert invites the reader to become more comfortable bringing their questions and doubts to God. While telling her own story of deconstruction and reconstruction, she points to the faithfulness of God in graciously caring for her. There is 32 bite sized chapters in this book looking at questions God asks us, questions we ask God, and questions we wish others would ask us. These questions give the opportunity to grow relationally and encourage the art of intellectual exploration. This book is very approachable, though I would say it's better for those that are struggling with navigating their faith.

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If you’re weary of a strident, dogmatic version of Christianity without room for nuance or mystery, this book is for you. Please don’t misunderstand me. It is Biblically sound. It’s just more realistic and thoughtful than most of what I’ve been exposed to in Christian publishing.

I’ve been reading Lore Wilbert’s work for years, and the word that comes to mind to describe her is FAITHFUL. She seeks to know Jesus and to walk with him rather than to align herself with a particular ideology or movement—something that is desperately lacking in our current “Christian” culture in the U.S.

For me, Chapter 12: Is It Right for You to be Angry?, was alone worth the price of the book. An excerpt:
“That’s what this whole book is about. That’s what these questions are about. They are asking, at their core: What are you happy/sad/angry/glad/fearful/grieving about? What is underneath these big emotions you have? What is behind the stoic mask you wear? What hull of a ship or belly of a fish or withering plant does God want to take you to, to help you see how big and unpredictable, how surprising his grace and goodness can be?”

If you want more of the grace and goodness of God, read this book.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert's newest book, A Curious Faith: The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and We Wish Someone Would Ask Us (released on 2 August 2022) is an exploration of what it means to ask questions of one's faith, tradition, and of God. Is curiosity and questioning dangerous and sinful, or divine and a God-given gift?

From the publisher:
Popular writer Lore Ferguson Wilbert has belonged to Christian communities that discouraged curiosity. The point of the Christian life was to have the right answers, and asking questions reflected a wavering faith. But Wilbert came to discover that the Bible is a permission slip to anyone who wants to ask questions.

Reflecting her own theological trajectory toward a more contemplative, expansive faith, Wilbert invites readers to foster curiosity as a spiritual habit. This book explores questions God asks us, questions we ask God, and questions we ask each other. Christianity is not about knowing good answers, says Wilbert, but about asking good questions--ones that foster deeper intimacy with God and others.

A Curious Faith invites readers to go beyond pat answers and embrace curiosity, rather than certainty, as a hallmark of authentic faith.


Whenever one engages in conversation, which I believe is one of the parts of reading a book, it is helpful to know to with whom one is speaking. This is especially true in theological conversations where one's background and tradition often illuminate a host of assumptions around doctrinal ideas and vocabulary. Lore Ferguson Wilbert is an American writer who has spent much time in Evangelical circles. She and her husband now worship in an Anglican congregation in New York state, where they live. (Wilbert does not clarify whether it is an ACNA congregation or an Episcopal congregation they have joined.) Her language and certain foci in this book reflect her Evangelical background and a continuing conservative viewpoint, both theologically and socially.

A Curious Faith is written in an easy-to-read, conversational style. Each chapter takes up a question which is framed with a quote from the Bible. The chapters are short and succinct, usually no more than a few pages long. The questions posed by Wilbert are explored primarily using anecdotes, either from her own life or stories collected from other people. This pattern gives the writing a relatable, casual, memoir feel.

There are some brief but truly lovely theological reflections in this book. Wilbert discusses curiosity, the relationship between theology and geography, sin, shame, faith, and God's love in a frank, sometimes arresting way. She is also not afraid to approach questions that, in many circles I am familiar with, are too uncomfortable or personal to be discussed. Subjects like sin, personal responsibility in faith, human anger and disappointment in God, and spiritual honesty make many people uncomfortable. Wilbert acknowledges the discomfort but persists in the discussion, seeing the benefit in opening up these awkward questions.
God is trying to show [Adam and Eve] that this shame they have over their nakedness has a source. He wants them to see that they are not the source of that shame, and neither is he. The enemy is someone else.
Everything about us as humans is rooted in the reality that we are named creatures. We are not independent, autonomous Creators. We are not unattached from all the realities and tragedies that exist in our world today and that have ever existed.
Sometimes I have treated faith less like faith and more like a bargain. I act like I have put God in my debt. I will do this and he will do that. He does this and I respond in kind. He keeps his promises, I keep mine. Likewise, I keep my promises, he keeps his. This never works for very long. Because although he is a promise-keeper, he keeps only the promises he actually makes.
There are moments in A Curious Faith where I found myself curious about exactly what Wilbert meant. She refers at one point, in a discussion about her parents, to "sexual sin" without any expansion on whose sin or what it might have been. Did her parents carry the trauma of sexual abuse? Was there adultery? Or did she mean more broadly and widely disputed ideas of sexual sin such as the sexuality of LGBTQ+ people? It is always dissatisfying when an author drops a loaded term into the conversation and walks away from it without clarifying what they meant.

In this book God is an exclusively male figure and is addressed in what is today, in Anglican circles, often called "traditional" language. This is not in and of itself a problem, but may prove a stumbling block for people seeking assistance asking questions of their faith because of negative experiences with patriarchal structure. Some parts of Wilbert's writing feel less like an invitation to others to engage in questioning and curiosity and more like personal faith journal entries or spiritual direction sessions. There are hints of disillusionment with prosperity gospel teachings in some of the discussion about the morality of God and theodicy in general. I am not suggesting that these questions are unworthy or poor inclusions in the book, rather than they may be most useful to people living a particular experience of Christian growth, deconstruction, and questioning.

In spite of her move to a different Christian tradition, the formative influence of American Evangelicalism is evident in Wilbert's writing. She still writes with the Evangelical assumption that it is the normative and universal Christian tradition, and that others are somehow exceptions. In the quote below it seems that Wilbert is suggesting that her current Anglican congregation is somehow not a part of the Western church represented by her previous megachurch congregation. At the same time, she attributes the cycle of celebrity leaders that is rife in Evanglicalism and significantly rarer in traditions like Anglicanism, Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as a feature of "the Western church today". I don't believe that she intends to hold up American megachurch Evangelicalism as the Christian norm against which all other traditions are measured (God forbid the thought!), but this way of speaking with the implicit assumptions is symptomatic of the Evangelical formation around its own tradition as "Christian" and all others being something slightly different.
In the Western church today, we're in an epidemic of celebrity. It seems like every single week a pastor, leader, writer, speaker, singer, or teacher rises to meteoric fame and another one falls. The constancy of it has worn our family to the point where we left our megachurch, changed our denomination, moved to a small town, and now attend a two-hundred-year-old church full of octogenarians.

 

Overall, I think this book is just fine and certainly has a place in the theological conversation. The writing is accessible and if one had a group, such as a parish book study or small group, who were looking for ways to explore asking questions in faith, this book might be a useful companion in that work. I suspect the book will appeal most strongly to people who, like the author, have left more restrictive traditions were questions were discouraged and are now looking for ways to flex those interrogative muscles.

If someone asked me for a book that might be helpful on the "Exvangelical" deconstruction journey, I would probably recommend the writing of Rachel Held Evans or Kate Bowler before this book. However, if the request were specifically about the practice of questioning, especially reflective questioning, this book would be an excellent recommendation. It is a useful, worthwhile book for a particular audience.

NB: I received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of A Curious Faith from Baker Publishing through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Rainer Maria Rilke famously urges readers to “live the questions” and to “love the questions.” That’s a tall order for our answer-worshiping culture, but I want to keep asking questions and, in particular, to leave space for God (and others) to ask me questions. Lore Wilbert invites her readers into A Curious Faith by examining the biblical questions God has asked, the questions biblical characters have asked of God, and the questions we wish someone would ask us.

Wilbert celebrates the vulnerability of waiting for clarity or receiving an answer we don’t want– and she laments the fact that Christ-followers may have a reputation for being suspicious of questioners. It is a gift to remember that the God of the Bible is curious, and we have been created in his image. In fact, “the Bible is a permission slip for those with questions” since Jesus peppered the Gospels with “Who told you?” and “What do you want?” and “Why are you afraid?”

Perhaps the book’s most stunning description centers on God’s use of questions to comfort Job with images of his own timelessness and mighty power. Job needed a God who was more sovereign than he was–and so do I.

In all our wonderings, we can be certain that God has plans and hopes and good intentions for us. He is committed to living the questions alongside us until we see his face and then discover that he was what we were looking for all along.

Many thanks to Brazos Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

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Reading A Curious Faith feels a lot like meeting a trusted friend for coffee: first reminiscing over things you both know to be true, then slowly, carefully opening up the messy, uncertain parts of your lives to each other.

Lore’s gentle writing style belies the depth of doubt she has personally experienced—and still experiences—but it is her honesty about her own struggles with faith that make this book so real and approachable. Her invitation to ask questions, coupled with her quiet confidence that God can handle even our hardest ones, is a gift to anyone who has ever struggled to reconcile faith and doubt.

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This was both a faster and deeper read than I expected. Absolutely thought-provoking, and one that prompts me to engage my faith with all of me—mind, body, spirit, emotions. God can handle my questions, and invites them, invites me to engage with him in them.

It was certainly an interesting book to read mostly in the wake of a surgery I hadn’t seen coming at all in life, let alone around the turn of the new year into 2022. So yeah, I’ve got time, different brain space (literally), and a few questions haha. But honestly, that’s kind of the best place to be, and this book helps frame that and me to lean into that in this unique (I don’t want to say “unprecedented,” because we all hate that word now thanks to covid) time.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Lore writes with invitation and intention. She names many questions here that I've also asked myself and is comfortable allowing them to stand without tidy answers or resolutions. I love the way this book makes space and even celebrates living the big, messy, complicated questions out in real life. I'll return to these short little chapters over and over again as I do the hard work of facing my faith questions head-on. 4.5 stars.

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This book has been such a good, deep breath for me. It’s called me into a more integrated and more wholesome faith. It gives me permission to embrace my humanity and the questions that are bound up in it. You can’t help but to walk away feeling seen and less alone.

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Questions are everywhere right now- inside and outside of The Church. So many are wrestling with similar questions, and it is incredibly daunting when faced with them.

BUT, this book. This book courageously meets these questions, and challenges you to press in instead of running away.

Even if you are not some who who considers themselves a follower of Jesus, I highly recommend this book! Soak it in and let it challenge you

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Thank you for the chance to read this book.
The thing with books, especially books on spirituality, is that they can be good while still not working for a reader. I found that with this book. I think it would be great food for thought for Christians or former Christians, especially those raised not to question authority. The questions the book asks, broken into three sections -- questions we ask God, questions God asks us, and questions we wish people would ask us -- are all important questions, and if you haven't been given space to ask them, then this book would be very beneficial. As it was, though, for me, it didn't quite hit the right marks. The questions that aren't relevant to my own journey I felt like skipping over, and the questions that are felt rushed. Again this isn't to say it is an unsuccessful book; only that it didn't quite work for me.

My mini-review will go live on my blog on August 31 in my monthly roundup of spiritual and theological readings.

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Beautiful book based on questions we see throughout the Bible and applied to our lives. This is a book to savor and read slowly.

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A very quick and thought-provoking read! I would've taken longer chapters, as some are shorter than a devotional. I understand that this is book about QUESTIONS, but the startling lack of answers shocked me. Do not expect to have your questions answered adequately, but instead simply identified, explored, and validated. I would not recommend this to someone who is specifically looking for answers to the questions that are mentioned!

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There’s a testimony that Lore Ferguson Wilbert gives in this book that is electrifying in its sheer simplicity. We want to be God and we are not!

Through questions, and there’s a lot of them to consider, she simply digs and digs like a careful archaeologist might among the ruins, and when she has unearthed the treasure it is this: God has stooped to our creatureliness, and suffered with us and for us.

As a result of reading this book, I hope to join her in the journey of humility toward admitting my fallibility, walking before God and before others as a pilgrim, despite the unexpected sufferings and disappointments along the way. I thank God her marriage has survived the twenty- seven year journey thus far. Sadly, my marriage has not fared so well.

As we all have disappointments, we all have our many questions, and it takes time to find an answer or two. Thanks, Lore, for partnering with us, your readers.

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Lore has a gift with words. I have followed her through the years and her last book so I knew I wanted to read this one. If you feel curious and love to sit with books, chatting about deep stuff and questions in life... you will love this book. There are several paragraphs where I felt seen and understood. What a relief God don't freak out with our questions. Thanks for writing Lore I'm praying for your next book (hopefully soon). "when the pain of life comes knocking— and it will come knocking— we need a framework that goes beyond tautological living. We need a framework that allows for big, audacious, confrontational, unanswerable questions". "..the question matters because part of our journey of faith is moving through the doubts and putting ourselves in a place where the outcome we desire is possible. Even if the place itself is powerless and even if the people around us are powerless too. Wanting to be well is just as important as doing everything we can to be well. Wanting God to answer our questions and satisfy our curiosity and solve world hunger and bring world peace is just as important as involving ourselves in the answers. There must be action to our faith".

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