Please count down five living people you admire and tell us a little something about why they make your list. These could be famous people or people you know personally.Here's my Five, not necessarily in any order.
5. The pastor of my first "home church," who also was executive director of the neighborhood center connected and integrated with it. His hospitality to me, someone new to the church (because my grandmother had seen to it, I'd been baptized as a young child as fire insurance, but had no clue as to who Church was or what Church did), his social and political activism, his skill as spiritual director, his ecumenical spirit in a neighborhood mostly Roman Catholic...one of the times a group of us went on a weekend retreat and planned to pray the Canonical Hours (as well as observing periods of silence—aarrgghh!), I visited the discalced Franciscans who lived a few doors down from the church/agency complex to borrow the Office books. That American Baptist congregation was in the Free Church tradition, but sometimes we'd have Book of Common Prayer worship! This pastor advised one of my friends who enjoyed liturgy to check out Old North Church around the corner. He suggested I attend University Lutheran in Cambridge because of my emerging interest in theology. I could go on and on about that community; in fact I've mentioned it in my formal faith journey and in several blogs.
4. Michael Mountain, former director and one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society (formerly "Sanctuary") in Kanab, Utah. When I lived in Salt Lake City I started donating to Best Friends, and among other things, I've seen the organization's magazine change from 2-color to a full-color glossy. I've visited BF only once, and for only one day, but the hospitality of the staff as they lunched with the guests reminded me of the way God calls the Church to be. And that I've far too rarely experienced in the church...
3. Walter Brueggemann. This name needs no introduction or much detail, since I know most folks in this group are very familiar with his writing. I've read many of his books, and many of them more than once. I've never met or heard WB in person, but I know he has influenced my work as an ecological theologian in countless ways. I also appreciate that in some ways he is more bible scholar than theologian, and I need to rely on people with that background and perspective.
2. How can I not mention Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Even if his official day wasn't right on the horizon, this prophet and preacher to the world, this Renewer and Transformer of Society is one of my Big Five.
1. I'll conclude with someone from the bible (remember, no particular order), so I'll choose the author of the deutero-Pauline book of Colossians! I love the Cosmic Christ and the glorious image of a reconciled world. I also admire the way this author picked up on some of Paul's themes and began expanding and enlarging them.
PS Just now I noticed this was supposed to be only LIVING people! I'll keep this list, anyway.