New Top 10 Meme (Better Late than Never)

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Written on 10:12 PM by Jack B.

Tagged by Carmel at Winterr's words

The meme:
MY TOP TEN GREATEST INFLUENCES, OUTSIDE OF GOD AND MY FAMILY MEMBERS!

1. Dr. Harold Kraman - Dr. Kraman was the man who, over a quarter of a century now, literally brought me into the world and he remains my GP to this day. When I get the slightest bit sick its Dr. Kraman I go to, even if he doesn't take insurance and I know it'll cost me. But he cares. Not only about me but about all his patients. When I had an ear infection as a child, it was he who sent me to a specialist (and by doing so, saved my hearing). When I was feeling like I wanted to die and my body wouldn't do what I was telling it to, it was he who diagnosed clinical depression and got me on the road to (ongoing) recovery. Even when I had my doubts about what I wanted to do with my life, whether to go to Grad School or something else, it was Dr. Kraman who gave me advice (Mrs. Kraman too!). He's got to be in his 70s now and close to retiring but for now I'm glad to be treated by a dying breed in America (thanks to HMOs and Insurance) - the urban family doctor.

2. Jehanne la Pucelle (St. Joan of Arc) - Illiterate, impetuous, incredible. Mark Twain once wrote "she is easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced" and I couldn't agree with him more. The historical personage I'd love to meet most in Heaven (other than Moses and Jesus), Jehannne (as she signed herself) defies all description...and what's more her life is more well documented than either Christ or the various Caesars(what with her trial with her own testimony and the re-trial after her death with testimony by those who knew her). Saviour of her country at 17, wrongfully burned at 19 and canonized 500 years later....500 years to acknowledge what everybody already knew.

3. Jackie Robinson - When I was in 1st grade we had to pick our role models and I picked Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broke the color line in baseball. This was just the beginning of the next few decades of civil rights struggle and it started here. Jackie was a great player but he wasn't the greatest player who could have been chosen, but he WAS the greatest man....and great men are few and far between - in baseball and the world.

4. Simone Weil - Sometimes when I feel like I can't express what I'm going through, she got through it first. The spiritual wasteland and doubt and need, the solidarity with the oppressed, the disillusionment in politics, the love of family and the love of scholarship. She was "waiting on God" to the end, sometimes it seems so am I.

5. Francesco Bernadone (St. Francis of Assisi) - Has anyone else truly lived the Christian life as described in the gospels as St. Francis did? As any saint inspired more over the centuries? Just imagine what the the last 1000 years in the Western World without his influence (for the better) - I certainly can't.

6. Pope John Paul II- I remember when John Paul II came to New York the last time during the lifetime of Cardinal O'Connor. He preached at Giants Stadium and in Queens and in St. Pat's and in Central Park. By that time his speech was already slowing, he needed a cane to work and the Parkinson's that later came to dominate him was evident. He was both attacked in the media and lauded and just sailed through it all - preaching the gospel of Jesus. Unwavering and unbowed, even in his slight, slumped over frame I thought he was the strongest man in the world. In his life was the history of the 20th century (both its horrors and its hope) writ small. When he died I couldn't believe because I thought he would live to 100, because he was even stronger than that. Sometimes I still can't believe he's not Pope.

7. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta - You know why some (very few) people didn't like her? Because she was a woman who believed fully in the teaching of the Big Bad Vatican and the mean old celibate pope. What's more she put those words into action, helping the sick and the destitute, the unborn and the old and dying. She did what those criticized her did not and she did it all her life and never uttered a harsh word in return. What's even more is that thousands upon thousands flocked to her. In an age of secularism and disbelief, she was a living saint, showing that it was indeed possible to be one in this day and age. Some hated her for it but most (like myself) loved her instead.

8. Pope Benedict XVI - If JP2 was an idealistic mystic, then Joseph Ratzinger is the Christian realist. He understands that Europe will probably will never be Christendom again, he understands the weakness of choosing bad bishops and he understands those that hate the Church just because they do. I've always admired him (largely because he was constantly attacked by people who didn't know him - and I always root for the underdog). But now that I've seen him in action, on the world stage at age 78, and not shrinking back but making Christianity more relatable than ever...I'm beginning to believe in this Holy Spirit choosing the Pope thing.

9. Therese Martin (St. Therese L'Enfant Jesus, the Little Flower) - My spiritual sister if not my biological one. She was born into a deeply Catholic bourgeois family in 19th century provincial France while I was born into a non-religious family in 20th century urban New York City and yet I feel as if she speaks to me personally. If I had to pick one book (other than the Bible) I would want with me on a desert island it would be The Story of a Soul. It's spiritual food that never stops giving.

10. Vibia Perpetua (St. Perpetua of Carthage) - Thrown to the lions in the arena in Carthage in 203 AD, the Martyrdom of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions is one of the most authentic first-hand account of early Christian martyrs. St. Perpetua's prison diary which ends just before her beheading by a clumsy executioner, the earliest writing by a Christian woman. Here's an excerpt:
"While I was still with my companions, and my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and so weaken my faith, 'Father,' said I, 'do you see this vessel, water pot or whatever it may be? . . . Can it be called by any other name than what it is?" No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am, a Christian.'
And that was over 1,800+ years ago. Yet still powerful. I wish I had such faith.
This is not to mention the great professors I've had over the years like Mike Nolin, Carey Harrison, Liz Weis, and Roni Natov, all of whom have had a great deal to do with my creative and intellectual growth but none of whom I could chose over others.
As to who I'm tagging, well if you're reading this and you haven't done it yet - consider yourself tagged by me. Really. It'll give you an excuse to write.

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