An exercise inviting participants to answer each other existential questions.
Required Material: paper and pen.
Divide participants into groups of three.
Give each participant a blank paper and pen. Give them 3-5 minutes to write down a philosophical, ethical or theological question such as “What is the purpose of life?” “Why is there evil?” “If there is one God, why are there many religions?”
Collect all of the questions in a bowl. The participants pick a question each and reflect on it. If they pick their own question, they should pick a different one.
Each group should find a place where they can sit in peace. The group should distribute roles to each other, so there is one speaker, one listener and one timing it.
The speaker begins to talk about what he/she thinks about his/her subject, while the others listen actively. The person who is timing the process is responsible for giving five minutes of talking time to the person. If the person speaking finishes before time, everyone waits without speaking until the five minutes are up. Experience shows that the speaker begins to talk again. When done, the listener should very briefly repeat the main points the speaker made: “So, what I hear you say is that….” The speaker should afterwards confirm whether this is right or wrong. The three participants rotate the roles of speaker, listener and time keeper.
Questions in plenary
What was it like to speak for five minutes on a subject like this?
What was it like to speak without being interrupted for five minutes?
What was it like to listen actively for five minutes?
Did it change the way the speaker and listener related to the question being asked?
Is this how conversations work in everyday life?
Thank everyone for their participation, summarise what was learned and remind that what has been shared is confidential and not for discussion.