Thursday, September 18, 2008


We've started a program at church called "Gifts and Talents," an extended exercise to identify the spiritual gifts of church members for use not just in the church, but in the wider world. The first bit of homework was to identify five heroes or heroines, people we admire or who inspire us. It was my understanding that we weren't allowed to include family members, which is why y ou don't see my mother (my first choice) or grandmother on this list. I have to admit that this isn't something I think about often, but here's the list that emerged for me:

1) Henry VIII -- I hear that collective gasp. You're thinking about all those wives and how two of them lost their heads! I'm thinking about his love for God and his country, his sense of duty, and how he sought to use his theological training to confront and resolve the political challenges he faced. The tabloid version of Henry is well known, but the rest deserves to be known, understood and appreciated.

2) Barbara Kingsolver -- her graceful and insightful prose opens new ways of looking at the world, and through that sharpened lens I see God's fingerprints clearly. She is an amazingly gifted writer.

3) Melanie Wilkes (the long-suffering wife of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind) -- she is one of the most compassionate and selfless people I have ever encountered on or off the page, and her love and devotion to the people the people in her life is gentle yet steely.

4) Steve Gushee -- priest and mentor to me in my early days of renewed spirituality. Steve has a passion for ministry and enthusiasm for life that he blends and balances well.

5) Hartford Friends Meeting -- I know this isn't a person, but a community can be a hero! Through this collection of Friends I learned about acceptance, tolerance, potential, the power of the Spirit, non-violence, and the meaning of the communion of saints.

Who are your heroes? Besides your mother...

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