It’s a rare and lovely privilege to have uninterrupted time with someone you really respect. I’ve had a handful of opportunities to have such conversations, and I’ve found that the flow of my questions were paired by their insights. So putting together a dream list like this wasn’t hard; it was fun to imagine the possibilities.
Its interesting that my list consists almost entirely of artists and authors (or both). Runners up included James Sire, Sufjan Stevens, Paul Simon, Propaganda, James K.A. Smith, J. I. Packer, Stephen Colbert, Jony Ives, and Wendall Barry. The hardest one to pass up was Watching Bob Dylan Record an Album. How much longer will this legend be among us? In the end, my fear of his infamously cankerous personality persuaded the coward in me to pass him up.
I’ve ranked mine from most possible to least likely.
5. Smoke a Pipe with Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite, the poet-priest and wizard of Cambridge, is a pastor at St. Edwards Church in Cambridge, where my grandparents were married and which I visited in 2012. Shortly after this trip, I discovered Malcolm’s work. His sonnets and his poetry anthologies have deepened both my worship of God and my appreciation of poetry. He’s also a legendary pipe smoker. We’ve interacted a bit on Twitter and he’s always been quick to respond to requests for book recommendations. My ideal afternoon with him would be the two of us on a walk in the Cambridge countryside, pipes in hand, discussing his favourite artists, poets, theologians, and tobacco blends.
4. Photograph Makoto Fujimura At Work
Makoto Fujimura was one of the first artists I discovered faithful to both his art and his Redeemer, respected by his New York art community and discipled by his church. It sparked a breakthrough in my thinking. His collection of essays, Refractions, changed the way I viewed the secular world and his writing continues to shape my thoughts through last year’s paradigm shifting Culture Care). Every painting of his is a marvel. I would love to visit his farmhouse studio and do a photo essay on him painting, equipped with an armful of questions to ask him after.
3. Celebrate Shabbat with the Garrels Family
Josh Garrels has given me songs to nestle into and live my life amongst. I know of few songwriters who engage their faith with such honesty, yet hone music with such craft. I’d love to talk to him about cultural engagement, the role of pain and joy in songwriting, and his relationship to his church, Door of Hope. But Josh and his wife Michelle homeschool their four adorable children. As a someone who reflects back on my homeschool childhood with joy, I’d love to join in a family meal, play with their kids, and swap stories of redemption.
2. Tour Tim Keller’s Library
Tim Keller’s sermons weave cultural insight with a keen understanding of the personal heart, always confronting me with the Gospel. How would he recommend one follow in his steps? He would, of course, remind me that hero worship is idolatry and that it is impossible, and wrong, to seek to replicate his ministry. But there are few whose insights into ministering in our contemporary culture I value more.
1. Drink a Pint with Bono
Who else has lead such a public example of the Christian faith and art? The stories he could tell. Who are his role models? Where does he turn when he is dried up? How does he remain faithful in the “punk-rock” lifestyle? I’d love to learn about his church, his family life, his friendships, and who influences him.