We continue with day 2 of our 10 lists on 10 days. Today, Beth and I have listed the 10 people we would most like to sit and have coffee with. Of course the consumption of coffee is optional — surely it would make more sense to share a beer with a few of these folks, and others, I would rather talk with as we hiked through nature. As always, these are in no particular order.
- Martin Luther King Jr. — Surely no surprise here. After all, my daughter Mikayla Lillian is named after this civil rights leader. King is best known for his role in fighting for equal rights for minorities. However, he was also a passionate pacifist. He was as opposed to the Vietnam War as he was Jim Crow laws. I would want to share a drink with him to ask him what issues he saw as most pressing? Would he concentration on gay rights? Would he address war and torture? Would he shift his attention to international issues?For me, MLK embodies the concept of the prophetic imagination (a concept we will explore in a later list). I still cannot hear his I Have a Dream speech without tearing up.
- Desmond Tutu – Since we are talking about baby names, I must mention Desmond Tutu. If our firstborn had been a male, I was advocating for the name Desmond. Originally we were going to go with Douglas (my middle name), but I realized I would prefer my child to emulate him than me. Tutu was instrumental in ending apartheid and symbolizes for me how a pastor can lead social change in the name of Christ. His work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is awe-inspiring. I want to know from him, how we can apply these concepts to our daily societal fissures.
- Bono – I wouldn’t have a string of questions for the lead singer of U2 like I would with many of the others, but in terms of having a good time, hanging out, discussing the ebbs and flows of life, I would think Bono would be the man. Plus, his lyrics are so deep and harmonize the secular and the sacred.
- Peter Abelard – Perhaps the most obscure on my list. Abelard was a tormented theologians in the 12th century (read about him here). Theologically he is best known for going toe to toe with Anselm over atonement theory. Abelard advocated for a Moral influence understanding over a substitutionary understanding. He was quite eccentric and misunderstood. Here is a paper I have written on him.
- Henry David Thoreau – I love his unfiltered commentary on life and society. In addition to his emphasis on self reflection and the awe of creation, he is always honest with his understanding of faith. I also have been influenced by his thoughts on civil disobedience.
- Stephen Hawkins - I have been fascinated by theoretical physics since I was in Middle School. It is only a short jump from physics to philosophy and then to theology. Hawkins not only provides an entryway into this crazy world, but the way he has approached life’s struggles epitomizes focus and direction. As you will see in susequent posts, I am convinced quantum physics provides insights into truth. Here is an approachable clip that will force you to reexamine your understanding of the world. (Not Hawkins, but he works in the same areas.)
- John Howard Yoder – deep down I am a Mennonite, I just have not admitted it yet (well except to Brett). I have learned more from other theologians, but I have yet to find a person who such consistency in their life, faith, theology and philosophy. Politics of Jesus should be required reading for… well… everyone.
- N.T. Wright – There is not a simple person who has been more influencial in shaping my theology and understanding of the world and scripture than Bishop N.T. Wright. I have listened to so many of his lectures I can hear him speak when I read his books. I find so many of the concepts I regularly explain and rely on come from Wright. I doubt I could keep up with him, but I would love to drink from the fire hydrant of his knowledge. Plus, he has a that super cool British accent. Here is a great resource for other lovers of his work.
- The Tank Man - Bravery is not something that is planned. It is not something that is sought out. It is something that occurs when we stand up for what is just. I am fascinated by the story of the Tank Man – the young man who stopped a whole line of Chinese tanks through a simply act of resistence. There are a couple reason he makes my list. First… I want to know who this person is (to this day, it unknown). But more importantly, I am drawn to this person because they were able to change the world with simple acts without demanding fame or recognition.
- Jesus - rounding out my list is the God-Man Jesus Christ himself. I almost didn’t list Jesus. That is not because I don’t think it would make for excellent conversation, or because I don’t have the ultimate respect, love, and devotion to Jesus. Rather, it is because I realize I am way too like Peter (see below) and rather than sitting down with a whole list of questions, I would love simply follow Jesus as he navigated the world today.