Friday, January 18, 2008

Five People, Five Questions (Part Three)

To understand the background on this series read my January 15 post.

The question again: If it were possible to have discussions with five people from history (past or present) … who would you want to talk to and what question would you like to ask them?

M.W. of Dublin, CA
I always thought that Isaac Newton or perhaps Albert Einstein would have been very interesting to talk to. Both thinkers way ahead of their time and little bit on the eccentric side of things. Imagine spending afternoons over a glass of wine picking their brains.

I always thought that Mark Twain would make a good person to have at a party. His skewed look at life would be very entertaining to listen to.

E.C. of Irvine, California
Hmmm, without prior thought (off the top of my head), I'd say Jesus Christ, the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, Paul Tournier, and C.S. Lewis. As to what I'd ask them, well, it will take more time for that part, and I don't have it right now. Today is son Benjamin's 26th birthday--our youngest! How can it be?

D.T. of Duluth, MN
Person: Thomas Jefferson, Question: How much separation should there be between church and state?

Person: Jesus: Question: Is it a sin for people with equivalent sex chromosomes to have romantic love? The chromosomal distinction is important because this rules out the ambiguity created by those born with xxy or others who have the stereotypical physical appearance or live as the opposite sex of their chromosomal distinction. I am sure Jesus knows about these gray areas of gender but I would not want any arguing among his followers and chromosomes are the best way we have today to separate the sexes into categories. We sure use a lot of political energy debating this question. It would be nice to get an answer.

Person: Mohammed: Question: Does Al Qaeda represent you well?

Person: God... If God actually shows up we get away with getting answers to two questions. We know God exists. If a no show, that is just as good of an answer. The one question if God shows up: How literally should we take this version of the bible? (I would hand over the King James Version and we would go line by line.)

Person: Ben Bernanke: Question: How much will the fed change interest rates next time?

I focused on only historical figures whose answers could have the greatest impact on the future of our universe (except for the last question, which merely sets me up for a big financial gain.) I also limited myself to one question per person. Historical figures such as Hitler or Einstein would be interesting but the answers to any questions I ask would probably have little effect on the future of our planet. Political leaders, scientists or explorers would have a hard time propelling the human race forward with their current knowledge. However, because folks take action (political and otherwise) to change the world while contending to be representing the mandate of dead leaders... well getting the mandate from the horses' mouth would be a nice change of pace and constructive. If Jefferson goes off on the separation of church and state, that could affect Supreme Court rulings as long as the United States exists. Mohamed could placate the Islamic world or kick problems up a notch... but at least we stop wondering. God... well let us get this existence of God issue settled. Is the bible an authorized biography, a road map or a fantasy? Let us move past the debate. The only problem might occur if Jesus, Thomas Jefferson, Mohammed and God all contradict each other in their answers. In that case, I think I would just edit the videotape to fit my agenda before I release it to 60 minutes.

J.T. of Solon Springs, WI
Easy one. I would like to talk to Nikola Tesla and work with him on sending and receiving electricity as particle waves so we could eliminate the need for power lines and extension cords.

M.L., another writer from Duluth area
I recall Bryan asking me a similar question when he was at Teen Mania. My initial response was to begin listing well-known authors and such. Then I thought further about it and realized that the question presents sort of a paradox.

The paradox is that the people I would most like to meet and chat with are not known to me nor to most anybody. Those that I think are the most interesting people on the planet are those who labor in the kingdom of God anonymously, in hidden places, behind the scenes, who never have their names recognized outside of their own little circle of family and friends but who exhibit a core strength of faith and grace of life in their work and ministry such that others are transformed by them.

On the other hand, I do know some of those people. Lots of them, as a matter of fact. I interact with some of them on a regular basis, and others I have known over the years. They exhibit varying degrees of grace, of course (“in proportion to their faith”, as Paul says), and some are probably more interesting than others. None of them, though, stand out as being well-known, or someone you would think to put on a list such as you are asking for.

I think if I were to ask them a question, it would be along the lines of the question Anita asked about Paul when last we met for Bible study (three months ago now?). “How did you get to be like this? What habits and disciplines make you able to give your life for others day in and day out?”

K.W. of Duluth
Definitely Jesus, #1, but then I think how great it'd be to hang out with him, but what kind of parable would I get in response to my questions?... And in my humanness, how frustrating would that be?

Mother Theresa, Does the part of you that is you/self/id decrease as you pour more and more of yourself out in selfless acts reflecting Christ's love...? Does it get easier? Did you EVER take time for yourself? How did you build in margins when you were surrounded by so much poverty (physical/emotional/spiritual)?

And finally, a few of my own questions which I wrote before receiving replies, lest I be unduly influenced by all these absolutely wonderful replies.

Friedrich Nietzsche: How much did your intense physical suffering contribute to the development of your philosophical ideas about God and truth? How would your world view have been different if your personal experience had been less dreary and more cheerful? (If you had not had migraine’s 230 days of the year, etc.) How and why do you think your work became so influential after you died?

The Apostle Paul: Did you have any idea that the letters you were writing would one day be taken as synonymous with or with the full force of the words of God? Is there anything you wish you had written/said differently? Are there any of these letters that shouldn’t have been included in the canon?

Leo Tolstoy: Looking back on your life, what was your most important work, the novels and stories you wrote, or the your efforts to promote the Gospel, love and pacifism?
(I would actually like to meet and talk with several writers asking each what they considered to be their most important work, but that would be a fairly long list.)

Jesus: The world is so big and so much is going on and there are so many people, needs, problems, issues… How much difference can one person really make today? (The rest of my questions are too personal to share publicly.)

Someone intelligent and perceptive in the South 100 years ago: How in the world did a supposedly Christian nation allow racial hatred to obtain such a vicious stranglehold on our people? (Not sure whom to ask, but it has been a lifelong question for me.)

Frederic Chopin: How did you create such original, richly beautiful music? Who, what, where were your inspirations and how did they influence you?

Thank you to all who contributed. Think deeply and reap.

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