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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Tea With Hillary
By Tim Manzer


I was wondering an odd thought the other day, “Could Hillary Clinton and I meet at Beaner’s coffee shop and discuss books?” The question began with a jail visit; I was taking a friend to visit his wife. The state of Michigan was making her sit still and eat a high starch diet for a few months. He could not drive a car. So we traveled to the tiny jail in the middle of cherry orchards in Northern Michigan. Having nothing else to do while he visited, I read all the magazines in the jail lobby.

In an ancient issue of “O” magazine, Hillary Clinton was asked what her favorite book was. I have asked the same question to others when I want to consider making them a close friend. If they answer a book by Thomas Merton, Calvin & Hobbes, C. H. Spurgeon, Dr. Seuss, Hannah Hurhard, Jon Krakauer, Max Lucado, Oswald Chambers, Francine Rivers, Brennan Manning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Far Side, Pete Greig, Randall Arthur, Amy Carmichael or hundreds of other authors that I love, then I know that we might be friends. I like book-lovers who love to discuss literature, especially classic Christian works, mountain-climbing novels or certain crazy cartoons.

When I daydream about books I have some wild fantasies. I would love to invite Don Miller over to my home. We could play video games and talk about how messed up life is till we are both blue like jazz. I could go Frisbee golfing with John Eldredge and have a captivating conversation about living out our wild hearts. I could invite John Piper, H.A. Ironside, Jim Cymbala and Matthew Henry over for a game of cards. We could all discuss faith and theology while we play Euchre.

Just imagine meeting C. S. Lewis at the local north woods pub and talking about the imagery behind the characters in “Narnia”. After he had a few beers I would ask him about “Shadowlands”. Then we would cry together. Or I could go cross-country skiing with Phil Yancey, we would ski for a few miles and then I could ask him about the subjects of pain and prayer. I would love to double-date with Mr. and Mrs. Gary Thomas. We could go out for a seafood dinner and discuss holiness and marriage. I can see myself sitting in the hot-tub and discussing the power of fantasy with J.R.R.Tolkien, G.K.Chesterton, John Grisham and Ted Dekker. It is a good thing that I have a big hot-tub.

I will never have these wonderful experiences but each time I preach, teach, talk and counsel, these authors go with me. They are friends that I have traveled with; laughed with; wept with and learned from. Their love for God and passion for truth has given me hope in times of distress, peace in the midst of the battle and perspective in this journey called life.

So back to Hillary Clinton; she picked “The Return of the Prodigal Son” as a favorite book. I love that book! Hillary even picked out an excerpt from the book that I found to be deeply profound. You can learn a lot about someone by the books they love. As Dawn Adams writes, “Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends.”

I can now see myself sipping a hot spiced chai and talking about the powerful writings of Henri Nouwen with Hillary. Then I would have to confess to her that I have often been like the older brother. That would be difficult. After that awkward moment; we could talk about the amazing love of the father in the story of the prodigal. So Hillary if you get bored with politics. Come and visit me at Beaner’s and chat about Henri Nouwen.

I love these quotes;

Will Rogers declares, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Dr. Seuss says, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Oswald Chambers explains, “Books are standing counselors and preachers, always at hand, and always disinterested; having this advantage over oral instructors, that they are ready to repeat their lesson as often as we please.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/08/08
What an interesting twist on the topic--the "company you keep" is your books! You listed some of my favorites, too--we could meet at a Beaner's, but don't make me drink chai tea, please.

I'd have liked your favorite quotes to be interspersed with your essay, rather than tacked on at the end; you had a great conclusion, and the quotes felt like an afterthought.

You have a great, authentic voice.
Patty Wysong02/08/08
What a neat take on the topic! It's true that books are friends and that you can tell the kind of person someone is by the books they read. Very interresting.