Magazine Feature / People

Host of Christian talk show stresses value of dialogue

Lori Carrell (PhD speech communication ’91) has regular conversations about God — in front of a television camera.

Carrell hosts “Ask God,” a weekly Christian TV talk show. The program, offered on the Total Living Network and JCTV, is available to 60 million viewers in five cities in the Midwest, and via the Internet.

As with her teaching as a communication professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Carrell stresses dialogue in her TV program.

“The goal in dialogue is inclusion, not finding ‘the winner’ or the person with ‘the right answer,’” Carrell says.

“Ask God” gets its fuel for dialogue from on-the-street interviews in the Chicago area. Participants are asked: “What is the one question you would ask God?”

Carrell selects those questions with universal appeal. Topics have ranged from “Is God Pro-War?” to “Do I have to Forgive?”

During the show, Carrell moderates a rotating panel of four professional theologians who bring different viewpoints and experiences to the conversation about each question. The panel explores possible answers, with no limits.

Producer Joel Mains says Carrell makes the conversations accessible to everyone, keeping the program from turning into Christian jargon.

“Dr. Lori represents us on our part to say ‘Hey, this doesn’t need to be limited to just theologians and ministers. These are things that we can all discuss,’” Mains says.

As host, Carrell facilitates the conversation, but she’ll also enter the discussion if she suspects guests are holding back.

“I’m looking for the clash, where the actual differences of opinion are,” Carrell says. “I try to draw out that difference but also still try to make it light and fun.”

Carrell hopes that the show encourages people to talk about the issues with friends, family and others.

“There’s no way in my one life that I can come up with the answer to why there’s pain and suffering in the world. How presumptuous of me,” Carrell says. “But if they all share their wisdom, do you think we’ll have a better answer?”

For Carrell, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

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