Ten historical figures who inspire me

Let’s skip past Jesus and Lincoln and King David and Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc. Go to more regular folks who also had everyday lives.

  1. Charles Ives, 1874-1954, classical composer and Manhattan insurance executive, an “American original” in both fields. Or even a maverick. Seriously overlooked when it comes to performances and airings.
  2. Charles Kettering, 1876-1958, American inventor. Second only to Edison in the number of patents.
  3. Arthur Morgan, 1878-1975, a civil engineer Kettering encouraged on a life of notable public service in flood control and higher education.
  4. Abigail Adams, 1707-1783, first wife in the second presidency and equal to any of the First Fathers. She really knew how to write a letter.
  5. Jenny Thompson, 1973-present, big-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer. Despite serious setbacks, including biased judging against her, she was persistent. Better still, she claims Dover as her hometown and works as a pediatrician up the coast in Maine. How can I not think of her every time I swim in the big outdoor pool carrying her name?
  6. J.S. Bach, 1685-1750, as an example of daily practice and faith.
  7. John Woolman, 1720-1772, Quaker minister who confronted economic and racial injustice. Many of his critical insights regarding wealth and oppression fit today, too.
  8. Emelia Bassano Lanier, 1569-1645, apparently the real author of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. I’m buying the argument. The works now take on a fresh vitality.
  9. Elizabeth Hooten, 1600-1672, the real mother of the Quaker movement and first woman preacher, quite outspoken, no sleight intended for Margaret Fell. She even came to Dover in 1662 and was severely treated by Massachusetts authorities, despite a letter from King Charles II. I wish we had more from her on the record.
  10. The Theotokos, mother of Jesus, in Eastern Orthodox theology envisioned as something much more than a Virgin Mary. Literally, “the God-bearer.” I mean, she’s addressed as the Mother of God! The implications – and personal interior experience – are mind-boggling for anyone seeking a feminine experience of Judeo-Christian thought, especially when we get back to the everyday life part.


Well, this list has changed over my life!

Who would you name?

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