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The Question Insights From Response Readers

We asked you: If you could have dinner with one person in history, who would it be and why?

National heroes, biblical figures, or beloved personal role models, the dinner companions you imagined would surely provide hours of scintillating conversation.

The question

Here’s what you said:

My great grandmother. I would like to hear her story of coming to America from Sweden, her life in Minnesota, and her journey from Minnesota to California.

Gayle Holmlund '83
Burlingame, California

I'd love to be at the dinner table with Noah. I'd want to hear his personal account of life in his day. How was his culture's climate similar or different from our culture today? We'd discuss people, his whole boat and animal experience, and what it was like to start over as the only family in a soggy, fresh, temporarily evil-free world.

Cindy Carlson Brediger '81
Shoreline, Washington

Few dinners would feed my soul as dinner with Horatio Spafford. Two years after financial ruin in the Great Chicago Fire, and within the larger national conflict of the Civil War and slavery, Horatio learned of the tragic and untimely death of his four daughters while they traveled to England. Yet he penned the most beautiful of hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul.” Surely such words, divinely inspired, nurtured his own sense of resilience. Eight years later, Horatio and his wife left America to lead a ministry to the poor of Jerusalem.

Tali Hairston
Director of the John Perkins Center at SPU

Abigail Adams. I read the biography of John Adams and realized all she contributed to what her husband accomplished. She ran their farm while he was in Europe for long periods of time with very slow communication and travel. They were ahead of their time with respect for one another — he valued her opinion and importance before “women's lib.” She was intelligent, patient, and loved God. I would love to have dinner with her!

Joyce Marston Enright '53
Coupeville, Washington

Abraham Lincoln. I want to know how he built consensus, how he bridged party lines, how he acted on his convictions despite vigorous objection, how he balanced home and family life with the demands of the job, and how his faith informed his actions.

Clint Kelly
Everett, Washington

As a high school and college cross country and track athlete in the '60s and '70s, I admired and respected Jim Ryun, the world-record holder in the mile. He was a quiet, Christian athlete in a time when the sport was !lled with great turmoil and diversity. I was captivated and motivated by his talent, values, and extreme hard work, and what he achieved because of them.

As an SPU student-athlete, I was able to meet Ryun briefly after a race in Vancouver, B.C., in 1971. At the time, I imagined how inspiring it would be to sit down and talk with him about running, his faith, and his future. Today, I would like to be able to have the same discussion with him, with more than 40 years of perspective.

Did his faith help him as a young athlete with all of the pressure in the world on him? What role did his faith play in his life? Now, after all this time, is he at peace with the gifts he had and what he did with them?

Rob Arnold '74
Westport, Washington

As a nurse graduate of SPU, I would love to have dinner with Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing as a legitimate and respected profession. I would love to see her reaction to the development of nursing science, the inclusion of men in the profession, and the spectrum of opportunities for nurses today.

The “uniform” of nurses has changed so much even in my career lifetime, from pinstripes, pinafores, and caps, to the scrubs of today — how would Flo see the evolution? I think she would look with delight at what has become of her passion.

Joyce Spencer '68
Pasadena, California

Barack Obama, because I feel that he is making history every day. He is important globally. I would also very much like to meet his family.

Norma Howell Cathey '50

Augustine, because he is the church's most brilliant theologian.

Matthew Shedden
Lebanon, Oregon

Theodore Roosevelt: founder of the National Park System, the U.S. Forest Service, child labor laws, the 40-hour work week, the Panama Canal. Avid outdoorsman; soldier; conservationist; sportsman; family man; friend of John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Edward Curtis; and nemesis of big corporate interests. Is there anybody who had more ideas for how to enhance the quality of life for the “common man” in this country? I would have so many questions, I wouldn't know where to start.

Jeff Steele
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Jesus Christ. Why, you ask? Really? Do I need to explain?

Jim Skinner
Alpharetta, Georgia

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, definitely. I’m in the middle of a book by Eric Metaxas about this “pastor, martyr, prophet and spy” who was killed in the last days of WWII for his role in trying to kill Hitler. Not only did Bonhoeffer represent the best of German culture (and cuisine) before this madman’s takeover of all that was legal and sane, but he journaled extensively about how he reconciled a willingness to take one life to save many lives. I’d love to just sit in his presence, sip wine and listen in on his thoughts, even if he said nothing. I’d also hope for a chance to say, “Thank You,” for not bowing his knee, his cultured, intelligent, faithful knee to the likes of Hitler, who gets far more credit than he deserves. Men like Bonhoeffer deserve our attention. I also heard Bonhoeffer always picked up the tab for his students.

Dayna Mazzuca
Victoria, British Columbia

George Washington Carver: I enjoy meeting and talking with people who have faced difficult circumstances and yet have remained motivated, productive and positive. These are skills that we all could use!

Dwight Corella
Des Moines, Washington

I would be humbled and honored to sit at a table with Mother Theresa. After years of reading about her, a highlight of my years working in Haiti was to spend a day in her ministry there. Truly she was the hands of Jesus and I’ve tried to remember this wherever I had opportunity to minister to the less fortunate. I hope our discussion would center in detail about “what would Jesus do.”

Nancy Burgeson Doney ’55
Shoreline, Washington


Join the conversation

If you could have dinner with one person in history, who would it be and why? Tell others through this moderated bulletin board, and read what others have said.

You can also answer the new question for the Summer 2013 issue.




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