From the backseat, our four-year-old firstborn asked why the road sign said 100. An unusual formulation of the question, I thought, and continued to drive, while his mom explained from the passenger’s seat. She spoke of how a number can also be a name and then the child’s mind fluttered to other things. But I reversed to five years ago when that slick Mazda flew past the stop sign and stung our old Volkswagen’s right front bumper, spinning us into the median and the previous Route 100 sign.

Our firstborn’s favorite question is, you guessed it, “Why?”


I couldn’t think of a “Why?” Bible verse. Upon query, Mr. Google only raised the prospective of a plethora of blogs about why I should never question the Bible.

I dug out my Greek language primer, which I first cracked in seminary over a decade ago. Over that month of January, my peers and I slogged through intensive conjugating and memorizing. All those flash cards. All month the guys grew our facial hair. Why? So that we could celebrate the end of the term with a Stretchy Moustache Night at a karaoke bar belting out “Just Like a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”. The woman I would soon marry refused to kiss me that night.

I discovered that I had her Greek grammar in my church study. During my search for the interrogative pronouns, I got lost in her notes in the margins, especially her penciled asterisks. Isn’t it amazing to review one’s life and recall what you thought was important? Years before we became parents, she had starred this:

The interrogative pronoun is also used in indirect questions. Thus: “We do not know what the children are doing.”


I remember the smoke. A vague buzzing. The taste of blood. I unbuckled and limped from the car, past the other driver still white-knuckling his steering wheel. His mouth was open and silent. My wife had already knelt in the oil-slick black grass. She was six months pregnant. The world silenced as she traced bloodied fingers over her belly.

Our word “agony” comes directly from biblical Greek. See Luke 22:44 and the sweat like drops of blood falling to the ground.


I also have my wife’s Hebrew concordance. It turns out there are over a hundred “Whys” in the Hebrew Bible, including more than a dozen in Job. He is a man with questions! He would know what the Coherent Mercy knows. He would argue his case with All-Knowing. And so, Job demands of his Maker: Why do you hide your face?

The disciples ask Jesus to explain why a man was born blind. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. A frustratingly vague answer, don’t you think? In my confirmation Bible bestowed when I was twelve years old, I wrote a question mark next to Jesus’s answer still visible after all these years.

Kate Bowler’s insightful new book, Everything Happens for a Reason, is subtitled And Other Lies I’ve Loved. She’s recently married, a young mother, and a theologian specializing in what the Glossary in The Mockingbird Devotional defines as “a theology of glory” which is often operative when faith feels like a fight against realities instead of an open invitation to acknowledge them. After being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, Kate Bowler takes up cursing for Lent. Even on Good Friday, we have the tendency to Easter-up everything. Some questions simply cannot be swallowed, especially if served up with clichés and Christian-speak.

I was having lunch with a parishioner the other day. He reflected that, when he was my age, older adults used to warn him about the impending time when his toddlers would grow up to become teenagers. Now in their shoes, he understands that, “They had no clue what to say to their kids.”


The shadow of a bent Highway 100 sign falling across my wife’s face, I realize her mouth is moving. Then it was as if someone pressed the button to unmute.

“He’s kicking! He’s kicking!”


We do not know what the children are doing. I often hear parents confess anxiety about regarding the impending talk of birds and bees.

One fateful afternoon, our firstborn got his first bee sting, and I will always remember how his mother sat her inconsolable child in her lap and began to share stories about when she had been stung—like when she was a teenager running barefoot in the grass at the church picnic and she stepped on one! For weeks afterward, our son would implore relatives, friends, church-goers, and strangers who happened to be seated next to us in a restaurant: “Why don’t you tell me the story of when you got stung by a bee?” One almost unbearably hot afternoon, he asked this of a panhandler on a street corner. And the man in ragged clothes proceeded to impart an epic involving a push lawnmower and a hidden hornet’s nest and a blessedly nearby stream.

Later that summer I was lounging in the green grass and resting my eyes when I heard:

“Daddy, here come a buzzing cloud.”

My firstborn’s voice was as if reporting any weather event. Following his finger toward our roof, I saw an apocalyptic swarm of bees against the backdrop of the deep blue sky.

“Daddy, are we going to be safe?”

I’m thinking it will be way easier to answer his questions about sex.