When I Was On Jeopardy …

questions answers signage
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Jeopardy has been in the news lately … which made me think of the day I was on Jeopardy.

OK – maybe not ON Jeopardy like behind one of the podiums but ON Jeopardy as in being IN Stage 10 while it was being taped — just NOT as a contestant (surprise) but as an audience member.

Ken and I were scheduled to speak at two conferences – one in Southern California and one in Northern California. We decided to take an extensive road trip which meant we would be going right through L.A. and vicinity.

We had time to do one activity. So what did we decide to do? Go to a Jeopardy taping.

This took some advanced planning. Although going to a taping is free, you have to get advanced tickets. We did.

On the appointed day we headed toward the Sony Studios in Culver City (where it was then taped). After driving around for awhile, we discovered that we were supposed to park on the roof, overlooking the Sony complex.

This place wasn’t especially beautiful. Actually NOT beautiful at all. Just a lot of huge windowless buildings connected by alley-sized roads. The buildings each separately housed a different stage, plus one for set painting and one for lighting. We found the right place where we were directed to sit on some benches. We sat by an older man and a young girl. Both had relatives who were competing that day. The girl told us her sister had gotten up at 4:00 and made her quiz her until it was time to leave for the studio. She was from West Virginia.

Slowly other people arrived. This next part gave us giggles. They made us get into a line and led us around the lot to the bathroom. (No bathroom breaks during taping.)  But you kind of felt like you were back in preschool.

After everyone dutifully made a trip to the bathroom, they then led us to Stage 10 where we needed to go through security.  Once in the studio (smaller than it looks on TV) the crew came and chatted. Then Johnny Gilbert explained the intricacies of applause as the contestants came out and were given final makeup checks.

And then the games began … except right away there was a mistake and a restart.

We watched two or three games, I can’t remember which (thought we wrote down the results for two games). During the commercial breaks, Alex came up to the audience and chatted, answering questions. (A barrier kept us from meeting him personally.) Ken said he was a lot warmer than he seemed on TV. (BTW – he talks to the audience, not the contestants during commercials because he has no interaction with the contestants themselves – other than the game and brief biographical remarks. This is to prevent anyone suggesting a hint of unscrupulous activity which I appreciate.)

My one disappointment was there was NOTHING to take as a souvenir. No pictures, no brochures, nothing. I tried to pick some lint off a chair but even that didn’t work.

Afterwards, we decided to act like we knew what we were doing and walked through the entire lot past countless other stages, looking for a gift shop or anything that might have something Jeopardy-related for a souvenir. We passed a lot of buildings and a lot of people hurrying around (And Tony Danza’s car), and finally found a little store – but it just had snacks, nothing themed.I did get a package of peanuts, but nothing about Jeopardy or the Sony studios.

So all I have are a couple of nondescript (outside) pictures of the day – I was ON, or at least AT Jeopardy.

Recently I read an article about why people like Jeopardy. The article said it was because people like to feel superior if they know an answer the contestants don’t know. (Like the other night when I knew about the Gallatin River and A River Runs Through It, but none of the three guys knew it. That’s because we were there the summer they filmed on the Gallatin and the Boulder – another whole story.)

Why am I writing about this? Two reasons – because getting to see a Jeopardy taping was a cool experience and also because questions are a big part of life.

We answer questions no matter where we go …

To register our kids at school.

To answer surveys at our local restaurant.

To make a doctor’s appointment. (I’ve told so many nurses my birthday this past year, I feel like it’s part of my name.)

But probably no questions are as vital as those asked to us by out kids. (Not even Jeopardy questions). Unfortunately, parents are often too busy to respond.

I’ve talked about this before, but I’m emphasizing it again because it’s so important.

We should answer every serious question our kids have. If we don’t know the answer, we should offer to research it with them or, if we know there isn’t an answer, explain that to our kids.  (And yes sometimes, answering isn’t possible.)

And when they ask questions about the Bible, we should be especially diligent in answering those.

We think of this verse in Peter in relationship to our co-workers or neighbors, but this also means our kids. Can we explain to them why we believe what we do?

Peter wrote: but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)

Let’s think about kids and questions.

1. If we don’t respond to them when they are young and asking basic questions, they will not come to us when they’re older and might have life-changing questions.

2. If we don’t have time to listen to them right away, or the answer is too complicated, it’s all right to plan a time later when you can sit down and discuss the issue.

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Jeopardy was on Stage 10 – a building just like this

3. If kids ask questions about God and the Bible, don’t panic thinking they don’t believe. Instead take the time to work through the question with them. Remember, truth is never hurt by questions.

4. If kids ask a question that you can’t answer, don’t give a snarky answer just to get past the matter.

5. If kids ask a difficult question that you can’t answer, be willing to get help. Pastors are usually more than happy to talk to kids. (And providing opportunity for a kid to know a pastor personally can be foundational for future questions and involvement in church.)

6. If kids ask complicated, serious questions, listen carefully to what they’re really asking. Don’t overdo the answer, but center in on their actual question.

7. If kids ask questions that make you feel uncomfortable, still answer with grace, patience, and love.

Jeopardy is a game of answers and questions. Wrong answers/questions results in the

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Our parking spot on the roof.

contestant not coming back a second day and although that means a loss of money, it is NOT the end of the world.

In contrast, not answering our child’s question can result in the child looking elsewhere for answers (and not always good answers) or internalizing their curiosity. And then our kids truly will be in Jeopardy

Let’s make our homes and ministries a place open for kids to ask questions.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs15:1)

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (Proverbs15:28)

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs18:13)

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