Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Off the top of my head, more or less in order, over time:
Johnny Cash -- after I read "Man in Black" at church camp waaay back in the day.
Paul McCartney -- no explanation.
Beau and Luke Duke -- srsly. They had a Dodge Charger, I had a Dodge Charger, and after it got rear-ended through no fault of my own, bending the frame, requiring the doors to be balin'-wired shut, I *drove* it more or less like the Duke boys did theirs.
Merle Haggard -- to this day. Great songwriter and storyteller, good guitar player, great set of pipes, and he sounds like he's from the same part of the country as I'm from, because he was born to Okies in the Okie Dust Bowl part of California.
Phil Donahue -- before he got weird. His TV talk show actually was what I had in mind when I took my first journalism and speech classes at Connors State College in '82-'83.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward -- after I read "All the President's Men" and learned the journalism behind Watergate.
Eric Severeid (Sevareid(?) -- whom I met in his declining years.
Garth Brooks -- for his talent both on stage as a performer and off stage for his marketing (advertising degree from Oklahoma State).
Dale Earnhardt -- after Dr. ER and I got back into watchin' racin' on TV, in '98.
Kevin Harvick -- for the way he handled himself, and Dale's former ride, when Earnhardt senior was killed at Daytona in 2001.
E.E. Dale -- 1890s cowboy, native of Old Greer County, Texas, student of Frederick Jackson Turner and pioneering Oklahoma historian.
Angie Debo -- ballsy Oklahoma historian in a time when women weren't supposed to have, uh, balls.
Maybe some more will come to mind.
In the meantime, you? Who? Why?
But others to whom I've looked up:
Kansas City Cheifs: Derrick Thomas (born the same year I was born; died the same year as my mom); Len Dawson; Buck Buchanan and Bobby Bell (both of whom played in a charity basketball came in my hometown when I was VERY young); Lamar Hunt.
George Brett (One of the greatest baseball players of all time and Mr. Royal).
Mitch Albom: Brought the wonderful "Tuesdays with Morrie" to me when I needed it.
"Lead columnist": Offered his friendship when my mother was ill, then handed me the reins to the rodeo beat. One of the greatest storytellers I've ever met.
ER: Showed me that one could be hisself through so many aspects of life and work, despite what people around us considered traditional.
My momma: She put her heart out there every day to every person she ever met, and she showed me how special love really is.
Billy Etbauer: Not only one of the greatest cowboys ever, but he's also one of the greatest, most humble human beings you'll ever meet.
Clem McSpadden: A wonderful, caring man who shared his passion for politics and rodeo all at the same time.
Martina Navratilova, for both her honesty about her sexuality and for continuing to play the game and play it well long after many thought she should have quit.
Lee Smith and Rex Hudler (both with the Cardinals at the time), for taking the time to talk to two kids sitting in the otherwise empty seats behind the third base dugout in Houston in the late 80's.
William Howard Taft, my many-greats uncle-by-marriage, for being a better Supreme Court Justice than he was President. Just goes to show that even though our career choices sometimes get made for us, we can do our best and then go on to do what we're better at when the time is right.
Oops, I forgot to mention who...
My Mom and Dad. The whys are too numerous to catalogue.
1. Congregationalist/Baptist Missionary Adoniram Judson
2. Confederate General James Longstreet
3.Sam (The Raven) Houston
4. Abe Lincoln
5. General Omar Nelson Bradley
Not necessarily in that order.
Frederick Buechner, read the summer after my father died when I was midway between my college years. He liberated me from my childhood Biblicist conforming and gave me the language for an open, felt sense of faith, deeply emotional and poetic, just when I needed it.
**, an upperclassman looking for the same things I was, but much more graciously. He mentored me.
Ranier Maria Rilke, poet of visionary piety toward the exquisite world. He made poetry seem like an incarnation of the spiritual self.
**, who housed me when I was starting out in ministry and modeled intensity in life and relaxation in food and culture.
James Baldwin, specifically his essays, liberating me for thinking about loving in a world off self-others.
Jean Jacques Rousseau and Sigmund Freud, for liberating all of us to love the depth of our selves and its construction, be tender but determined toward the alienation that is all too human, and how to make a poultice from that alienation for healing.
Herbert Marcuse and from him, Kant, Marx, and the Frankfort School. For me, because of them, America became a nation among others, capitalism just one late system, and politics a battle between power and reason in the human person. One should not believe in a nation or a system, for very definite, analytical reasons, not just because God said so.
Professors Rowan Greer, David Kelsey, and Sister M. Shawn Copeland for living what they taught: that thinking about God and human life is a moral good in itself if applied. I think about them often.
The Johannine writer/s.
Baudelaire, D. H. Lawrence, Dreiser, Faulkner, Jean Rhys, and Toni Morrison; Hon'ami Kōetsu, van Gogh, Dali and, oddly, Charles Demuth, and Rothko, Stephen Sondheim: Among all of their kind, they are my heroes. They incarnate a fallen and divinized world for me like no others. They never fail to move.
The builders and iconographers of Hagia Sophia, a place where God lived for a long while.
Abbot Sugar, strictly in his ecclesial function, and whatever it was that happened throughout 12th century Europe.
The modern city of Barcelona.
Buddha, St. Benedict and AJ Heschel. If the world blows up from a meteor, all we need are these three. Everything else we can figure out.
Kenneth Leech. I wish I could live something like his life. Modern Anglican divine with real guts.
**, mentor and friend in priesthood, taught me about Edwin Freidman and non-anxious leadership and the power of differentiation to foster good process and outcome.
bell hooks on love in all things.
Richard Rodriguez and Susan Sontag for courageous authenticity and clarity on how to be an American with integrity.
Jane Goodall. We simply don’t yet realize her contribution.
LBJ, domestically… in his last nine years of life.
**, sitting on the stoop until 2005. Noble. Courageous. Community Organizer.
Lily Yeh, daughter of a Chinese Red Army general. Google her. Worked with her closely.
Geoffrey Canada. One who escaped only to jump back in with complete belief in his kids, unconditional belief.
John L. Lewis. American courage over a lifetime.
And, for ER, John Graves. Truly. Goodbye to a River is a spiritual hymn by a son of redneck Texas.
I've had "Goodbye to a River" on my gonna-get-to list for 23 years. A journalism prof who was an old UPI hand had it on a book list for a class. I picked something else, now forgotten.
BTW, I agree with Drlobojo that "hero," the word, has lost its verve; I really meant people I admire whose work or selves have influenced me, which is close.