From Rick Ritchie – five people (living or dead) who have been a positive influence on your spiritual life. It’s kind of tricky question for a few reasons. For one, I don’t know that my spiritual life is anything to write home about. For another, I’m sure that what spiritual life I do have has been formed in large part by influences I’m not always consciously aware of (participating in the liturgy on a regular basis, for instance). But here goes:
1. C.S. Lewis: Probably my biggest theological influence at the end of the day. I’ve read plenty of theologians and philosophers who make tighter and more sophisticated arguments, and I don’t agree with Lewis on everything, but more than anyone else, his writing (both fiction and non-fiction) imparted to me a sense of what it would actually be like to inhabit a Christian universe.
2. Andrew Linzey: Helped show me that you could, and should, incorporate concern for animals and the rest of the non-human world into an orthodox, trinitarian theology. This has greatly enlarged my vision of what the gospel is.
3. Miguel de Unamuno: I don’t know that this Spanish Catholic existentialist philosopher is much read anymore, but his passionate case for the Kierkegaardian leap of faith (laid out in his Tragic Sense of Life and elsewhere) left a permanent mark on me. There are plenty of times when I find myself doubting the truth of Christianity or the existence of God, but Unamuno emphasized that when we can’t believe that it’s true, we can hope that it is, and try to live accordingly. Being a skeptical, ironic Christian is undoubtedly not ideal, but sometimes it’s the best I can manage.
4. I doubt he would even remember me, but the campus Lutheran minister when I was in grad school was extremely helpful to me when I was taking my first, tentative steps back toward church life and my first steps into Lutheranism period. He was very welcoming and also provided sound counsel during a personal crisis of sorts.
5. My wife. Probably the most significant influence on my life, period.