Reflecting On Your Influences

Every now and then it is a good idea to consider the influences you have in your life, maybe a “lull in grace??? as Patrick has called it, is a perfect time.   I  first thought I would make a top three list of four different categories; books, music, movies, and blogs; but later decided to just do literature and movies because I wanted to not make it a 2006 favorites list but a real reflection on my own influences.

I got this idea from Scot McKnight whose post on “Good Writers??? sparked my interest in this area.  I read a lot and listen to music just about as much, but often I’ve wondered if I am wasting my time with the people I’ve chosen to pay attention to.

McKnight suggests we spend our time focused on “the best writers??? in the given areas, so we are spending quality time with quality influences.  You may feel it’s a bit relative to consider one person, or group, the best in an area, or maybe not; his definition works fine for my starting point.  If you like you can change it or disagree with his ideas and tell us why you think yours is better.  What McKnight says is;

By “best writers??? we mean who write with excellent prose, who keep your interest, who avoid getting bogged down in too much detail but still drive home profundity and insight, and who do not overdo it in footnotes, but at the end of the day you say “That is a great book and the prose makes it greater.???

Using this as a backdrop here are some of my people I have been and wish to be influenced by more.  Tell us who you think the best are in the fields you are most interested in.
(in no particular order)

  • Dylan Thomas‘ poetry has added new depth to my understanding of artistic creation, and human existence.
  • John Steinbeck – He has helped me love fiction and understand humanity in a way I’ve never known before.


  • John Howard Yoder – I like Yoder’s work because he spoke as one placed in a specific tradition, yet leading out of that tradition in ecumenical ways.  Yoder was for the whole church.
  • Mark Noll – Noll’s history has transformed the way I view everything the Church has to do with, I can’t barely think about the church without touching upon one of the ways he’s influenced my thinking.
  • Nancey Murphy – I love people like Nancey who think radically outside the box and challenge all accepted norms with grace, love and and Anabaptist brilliance.
  • Rufus Jones – If I could be any Quaker, and write with the clarity and spiritual insight of any person Rufus Jones might just be that guy.
  • Stanley Hauerwas – Everything this guy says is directed at helping the church, and yet he does it in such a provocative way.  He is a postmodern day Karl Barth if Barth hung out with Quakers and Anabaptists.  I wish that everything I said was so provocative that it caused people to think the way he does.



  • Bob DylanBob Dylan lead me to Jesus, well kind of.
  • Smog – Listening to Smog is like reading literature, his lyrics remind me of both Steinbeck and Dylan Thomas; a simplicity with profundity.  He sings the way I want to write.
  • Pedro the Lion, which has recently retired, is David Bazen’s personal project that has a constant satyrical language, which has helped me to think critically about my faith and the world around it.

Well there’s enough of my list of influences how about you?
Feel free to be as brief or in-depth as you’d like and if you want to write it on your blog and ping
back to here go for it.

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