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Godly Play: A Setting for Eloquent Questions?

A question was posed about the role of eloquent questions and how they might apply to the concept of Godly Play. I chose to flesh out my thinking on eloquent questions in that context. Eloquent questions lead inquiry into what is important within a community and  shared by a community, big or small. Access to the wisdom of past generations gained through questions posed by members of a group. Gadamer in Truth and Method suggested the prudence and eloquence derived from eloquent questions “gives the human will its direction, is the concrete universality represented by the community of a group, a people, a nation. … [Therefore, its] youth demands images for its imagination and for forming its memory.”

I am not expert on the concept of Godly Play, but the questions posed by children in that setting could be understood as eloquent questions. Eloquence, as it relates to language, suggests capacity to articulate questions about those things that are important and people are curious about in their lives. Yes, it could mean being persuasive and convincing, but I think as it applies to inquiry, eloquence has to do with articulating questions crucial to the existence and survival of the group. With this curiosity and wonder, children participating in Godly Play are encouraged to ask wondering questions and are provided with open-ended response time. This last description suggests there is time to consider answers and, over time, to reconsider them.

Gadamer proposed that prejudice guides understanding, but we are aware of the prejudice and the role it plays in understanding. An open-minded stance allows people  awareness of their prejudices or personal agendas and not be attached to them. We stay open to accepting new evidence and there is a constant maturing of views and understanding of the world. This stance brings to mind the Buddhist concept of the Beginner’s Mind which Senryu Suzuki defined as “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.” Children benefit from the beginner’s mind and constantly seek to make sense of the world while remaining open to the many possibilities the emerging world holds for them.

This openness and questioning stance leads to the prudence or wisdom that is important to the existence of the group, not only in its present form, but recognizable with each ensuing generation. St. Thomas Aquinas considered prudence in this sense as benevolent and based upon a supernatural good. The community hopes that the children, through their inquiry, will gain the prudence and wisdom to sustain the community through the rhetoric and the words they speak and the intent of their actions. Prudence is not driven by self-interest. That is deceit and cunning. Prudence takes the form of actions that would be well-intended and for the greater good.

Although I lack in-depth expertise in both eloquent questions and Godly Play, Godly Play does seem to encourage children to ask eloquent questions to better understand their community and grow with their community in a prudent way.

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