A pastor calls the kids to the altar rail for yet another children's sermon and says: "I am thinking of something that is brown, has a bushy tail, and every fall gathers acorns to itself. What am I thinking of?" After a long silence, a young child pipes up: "I'm sure the right answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."

This joke has made the rounds among preachers as a mocking critique of the triviality of many children's sermons. It can also serve to illustrate a tendency that is polarizing people and crippling our capacity for meaningful discourse: the belief that we know what the right answer is, regardless of the question that has been asked or the issue being addressed.


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