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Old 10-07-2007, 04:17 AM   #1
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Who's Made A Difference in Your Life?

Hey everybody,

I just wanted to let you all know that you have all made a difference in my life. I've been doing a series of blogs recently on people who have influenced me and all of you, "The People of Interference" have made my list of personal influences. You can check out my blog at www.thejournalonline.blogspot.com to read what I said about Interference, especially the FYMers. (Just scroll down a bit past the introduction and the entries on Rich Mullins and Bono, which are somewhat lengthy). You all have changed my life and I appreciate and care for all of you.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to let people share who has made a difference in your life, in particular, writers, authors, artists, politicians, or other public figures. (In my blog, I devoted several entries to close friends, family, and teachers and so on but I thought that it might be more interesting to talk about people that we all (or most of us )know rather than a list of names that might mean a lot to the individual posting but who won't mean much to anyone else. ) It's up to you though, just write a few thoughts on the people who have influenced you and how they did so. You're also welcome to share specific films, books, or other things that have influenced the way you think and view the world.

My list, which you can read about in detail on my blog is:

Rich Mullins--singer/songwriter who best represents and most influences my views on what it means to be a believer.
Bono--I think we all know who he is. He probably best represents where I am right now in my life now. His real, rough-edged faith has influenced me greatly.
The People of Interference--You guys have literally opened my view of the world!
Keith Robertson--I started writing a journal when I was eleven years old thanks to his series of books.
Keith Green--I've been motivated by his remarkably passionate Christian life.
Dwight Nelson--This pastor has greatly influenced the way that I speak (I do preach on occasion--in an actual pulpit, though, not my usual pontificating here) and also has revolutionized my personal spiritual disciplines.
John Grisham--Serves as a role model for me as a Christian writer who puts the story first.

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Old 10-07-2007, 06:48 AM   #2
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Wow. That was wonderfully nice. Thank you. It is mutual.

Neil Young:

Probably the one musician/artist I return to almost all of the time
(although I've been unfaithful). I admire his fierce independence.
He is uncompromising, but not afraid of change. I think he is almost fearless and doesn't seem to give a rat's ass if anyone likes him or not. I don't find much humility in him, but I find a person who is not afraid to self-assess. When the biography
"Shakey" was being written, he deliberately steered the author to people who did not think highly of him because he thought if the writer was going to write on him, it should be the whole picture, not a puff piece. (Then he sued the writer to delay the release until his daughter was no longer a minor and wound up owning the copyright to the book, lol). He never wanted to be put in a box. For all of his amount of work, he's only had a handful of hits. When he was challenged that he could not write a hit, he produced "Heart of Gold" that went number one and then basically said, now leave me alone. He may have been the only musician sued by a record company for not being himself.

What was on his mind, he wrote. I don't like all of it at all. Some of his latest output made me yawn in boredom or roll my eyes at some really bad lyrics. But I will always be at the local record store first day of a new release. Because I will never know what
it's going to be like.

He does everything his way, takes no prisoners. I don't think he is always the nicest man in the world, but he never backs down.
And he seems to understand and accept the consequences of what he does.

And it is interesting to watch the dynamics of a life long friendship/rivalry between him and Stephen Stills.

Bob Dylan:

I'm a lyrics person and I don't think you will ever find sharper, more biting, more accurate lyrics than Dylan will give you. The older I get, the more amazed I am with what he has written.
Another person who did not fear to buck the musical world that spawned him and revered him. I don't think I ever appreciated him sufficiently until I began to listen to him under headphones.
He would just stop you cold with his insight and the way he turned a phrase. I'm listening to him almost nonstop these days.

They both had that wonderful, dry, spot-on humor that I can sometimes approach, but never quite reach.

From both of the above, I learned to step back and look at what I said and what I wrote. Was it honest? Was I afraid? What was I afraid of? When I stripped it all down, what was I seeing?
And although I have a weakness for pure voices, I learned the penetrating beauty of these whiny/nasally voices and the sparse trance-inducing guitar of a guitarist who makes his living off of
about three notes and sometimes one.

Thomas Wolfe:

Sparse would not be the description for Thomas Wolfe. He wrote ridiculously long novels that often rambled, but for all that, he gave you a world and an entry into his thoughts that few writers give.

Johnny Depp:

Latecomer to Johnny Depp. But the theme here is somebody who is not afraid to take something on and make it his own.

King David: Joyous, sinful, a man who took whatever he did to the limits. Reckless. I have to look at David and smile.

Janis Joplin: For someone as emotionally cautious as I am, it is freeing to listen to someone as emotionally uncautious as she was.

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Old 10-07-2007, 09:48 AM   #3
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Bono. I was already politically involved when I got into U2, but Bono helped me focus on the things that worked, on getting things done, as opposed to idle talk. I was involved with people who just talked. Bono, of course, was why I got involved with Interference and FYM. FYM has impacted me, too. It makes me think. The conservatives, a fine lot, make me think about my liberal views and why I have them. They remind me that I live in a democracy and it takes all of us to make it work.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:17 AM   #4
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Re: Who's Made A Difference in Your Life?

Originally posted by maycocksean

Rich Mullins--singer/songwriter who best represents and most influences my views on what it means to be a believer.
Absolutely. He's one of mine as well.

Most of the people who have influenced my life are not famous (family, pastors, friends), but here are the famous ones, in no particular order.

Rich Mullins- for the reasons mentioned above. He was such a talent, and we got to experience only a small portion of it. What a servant he was. "Awesome God" is and will always be my favorite song.

Michael W Smith- I think he is about to pass U2 as my favorite artist. He is such a good entertainer. I saw him in concert 2 weeks ago, and it was so powerful. Definetely one of my heroes. He and Rich make worshipping God even more awesome than it already is.

Jonah- probably my favorite Bible story/person. We can all relate to his resistance to God, but hopefully we will all reach out to him and become deliverers of God's Word.

All of my conservative heroes- Rush, President Bush, Hannity... they have definetely made me realize what is important and in what direction this country needs to go.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:46 AM   #5
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Thank you for the kind words about all of us. You've been a great contributor here. Your posts have a warm, calm tone to them and really provide great patience, honesty, and intellect to this board.

Besides the people I know personally:

Bruce Springsteen - His songs and shows are so deep and passionate, so honest and relatable ... there will never be another songwriter quite like him. His lyrics particularly strike me with a strong message and great nostalgia, being a teenager who has spent many a summer night down the Jersey Shore.

Bono - I don't pay too much attention to his politics, in all honesty. For me, it's still about his music. Like Springsteen, he writes passionate and deep lyrics. His lyrics strike me a little differently, but still just as meaningfully.

No other famous person can really hit me as much as my friends, family, and those two do. I've never really had a political hero or a writer that's touched me yet.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:46 AM   #6
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Adam Clayton - I really have to admire a celeb who actually took sobriety seriously. He screwed up, fixed it, and never a word was said about it since. He maintains his sobriety privately, without waving it around for public perusal. I'd actually talk to him if I could. He's such a wise old soul, and beautiful in a way nobody can really touch. There's something about him that's just so far beyond mere 'cool'; he always seems at such peace with himself, and doesn't seem to let others dictate to him what he's supposed to be.
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:04 PM   #7
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Sean, you remain one of the classiest acts on this site and your words, as usual, manage to convey so much in a seemingly effortless way.

People that have influenced or impacted me, outside of family, friends and others that I actually know:

U2 - their music, collectively, has meant so much to me that it's not really possible to quantify. We're talking 25 years or so here. Opened my eyes to many topics as well.

Ayn Rand - I'm no Randian or objectivist, but, I came across her books at a time when I needed some confirmation about some things, and she provided that.

REM - Right behind U2 for me. Even their saddest songs had a way of improving my mood.

Eric Heiden - Olympic athlete, he dominated speed skating in the 1980 lake placid olympics. I was 9 during these games, the same games where the US defeated Russia in ice hockey. Heiden's dominance, combined with his attitude, humility and desire to soak the whole olympic experience in impacted me greatly, and his demeanor and attitude resonate with me today.

John Steinbeck - No writer has meant more to me. His writing inspired me to start writing at a young age (a practice I continue to this day, albeit poorly and mostly not for consumption by anyone but me). I learned a lot about the human condition from him....his writing also fueled my burgeoning interest in a wide array of topics, from history to sociology to travel to theology to politics.
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:16 PM   #8
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my girlfriend - her love for me changed my entire life around

my parents - not just for the obvious reasons either
they are amazing

Steve Waugh - his diaries are my self help books but better

Frank Zappa - the man (probably) was a complete arse but if anyone proves what is possible to achieve when you've got the ability and you pursue it relentlessly it's him
“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.”
~Frank Zappa
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:51 PM   #9
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I've got mentioned. Thank you! Sometimes I'm not too sure as to how much I get recognized in internet forums or if I'm "visible".
It's great words you not only found for Bono or Rich Mullins, but also for us. That's very great of you, and I can relate to those.

I can't point out as to how anyone of the popular people I like have had an actual impact on me. I'm sure some of those did have some deeper influence without me actively recognizing it.

U2 as a band clearly has a great impact and influence on me, though probably in a different way as it has to you, the native speakers, who can grasp what the lyrics are trying to tell you.
I started listening to U2 when I had just learned the basics of the English language, hence I couldn't understand a single line from their songs. My godfather (I grew up a Lutheran Protestant, the dominant denomination in our region, and left the church some years ago due to lack of any faith) presented me with the Best of in 1998 and it was only then that I recognized how many of the songs I loved were U2 songs and I've been a fan ever since.
I never cared that much for the song lyrics, and to this day I can't tell you most of the lyrics. I'm not really listening for the words. Of course, with most songs I know the general meaning of them, or looked up the lyrics every once in a while, but I'm not analyzing any songs or listening those songs that have the deepest lyrics. I like to listen to the songs that sound good.

But nonetheless U2 influenced me and most certainly changed aspects of my life. And their music has been a great help during the recent months and is still helping me to pull through.

Bono's activities around Africa made me more aware of the problems there and how we, the "Western World", are part of the problem as well as the solution, and I mean to use my education and future profession as an economist to become part of the solution (better, I hope so).

I can't say that any other of my favourite acors, directors, writers, historic figures or musicians did have such an influence or changed the way I am to such a considerable extent, and if so, I didn't really realize it so far I guess.

I'm really happy to have found and registered with this forum. It didn't only show me where I can get to the treasures of U2 live music, but especially FYM broadened my horizon extensively and introduced me to issues I doubt I would have ever found out about if it wasn't for the forum.

Thank you for that.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:08 PM   #10
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Old 10-07-2007, 07:54 PM   #11
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well done sean
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Old 10-07-2007, 08:23 PM   #12
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Wonderful blog, Sean.

As for me...

My Mom - the biggest and most important influence in my life. She's the warmest person I know, and one of the most accomplished. She lectured, gave presentations, taught, consulted and always had time to come home and bake cookies with us at the end of the day. She encouraged us to follow our own path and wasn't judgmental of our life choices, even when they weren't what she would have chosen for herself. She emphasized the value of education, but more than that, she wanted us to be good people, or at least to be in a state of trying to be good. I'm honoured to be her daughter.

My grandparents - who spoiled me as their first grandchild, and who taught me how to read and bought my my first set of encyclopedias when I turned two. My paternal grandfather, who taught me never to go outside without shining my shoes; my paternal grandmother who let me cook alongside her; my maternal grandfather who shared my love of numbers and bought me puzzles; my maternal grandmother who taught me how to be curious about the world and shared my hatred of leeks.

My Dad and brother - for happily accepting that the girls in the family could kick their ass.

My Prof S. - for teaching me that you have to have passion for what you do, because if you don't care about your work, nobody will. And for expecting more of me than other people did.

My friends J&T - without whom seeing this world would have been far less fun, and who have seen me at my best and at my worst.

My friend K - for being the very best part of law school, for trusting me with her wedding plans, and for showing me that you can have it all.

BW - one of the top lawyers in this country, who became somewhat of my mentor and showed me that you can use your status and your money to do the things you've really wanted to do, but otherwise couldn't. And for being a good example of how you can overcome the worst kind of personal tragedy and draw positives from it.

My dogs - who taught me that love is so simple.

W - for being my other half and for insisting that he is not the better part, even though it's a lie.

Tina Turner - for showing us the power of walking away, and that it's so important in life to have a little bit of courage to do all the things that are hard.

U2 - for being the conduit to meeting one of my best friends, for giving me the experience of sleeping on pavement (and again and again), for raising my interest in issues I might have glossed over before, for all of you people here who are much more than caricatures, and for emphasizing the importance of persistence when you set goals for yourself.
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Old 10-07-2007, 08:44 PM   #13
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I've no idea what I did to deserve to be included on such a list, but thank you. Whatever it is, I'm glad to have done it. Reading that really warmed my heart. I love reading your reflections. You are someone who is very open to human experience, and it is always a joy to read your posts in here and see the world through your eyes.

I've got my "who has made a difference" coming. I just had to say this and let you know that I saw and appreciated what you've written.
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Old 10-07-2007, 09:00 PM   #14
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Sean. Thanks for thinking of us.

This is a great thread idea too...I'm surprised this isn't done more often.

As for people that make a difference in my life:
U2, naturally. I don't know where I'd be/who I'd be without their music.

My cat-she's my baby girl, my best friend, my source of all things cute and joyful.

Interference-This community has opened my eyes to things I never thought I'd see...as well as bonded friendships with wonderful people I would otherwise not know existed.

I'll come back and work on this later...my allergies have got my head in a fog and I'm not thinking clearly.
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Old 10-07-2007, 09:10 PM   #15
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Originally posted by U2democrat
Interference-This community has opened my eyes to things I never thought I'd see...as well as bonded friendships with wonderful people I would otherwise not know existed.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:02 PM   #16
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Sean, wow. I read your post and made my own post in here......but did not make it to your blog, sorry. Anyway, imagine my surprise/delight when a fellow interlander, who appears on your list, alerted me to the fact that I somehow snuck my way onto the list as well. So, thanks for including me, it means a lot to me that someone I hold in such high regard feels like I've contributed something......somehow, some way.......to their life. Rest assured, it's mutual.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:57 PM   #17
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Thanks all for your kind words.

I did want to clarify to anyone who didn't make "the list" that doesn't mean you are not "included." All the regular posters here at FYM as well as those whose Journals I read and comment on (and who read and comment on mine) are included in that tribute.
The list of names, (as well as the selection of avatars) was something I thought would grab the attention of readers, and when I put it together I just wrote down whichever posters came to mind. Several times as I was working on the blog and revising, I would remember, "Oh, yeah. . .so and so" and I would add their name to the list. Obviously there some of you who I missed and even as I came on to Interference today there were a couple of forehead-slapping moments, where I was reminded of another poster I didn't mention. The last thing I would want is for anyone here to feel snubbed or purposely excluded from "The List"

At the same time, please be assured that this in no way diminishes the "specialness" of anyone who DID find their name on the list.

It's really interesting to read about the people who have influenced you all. I too, have found that most of the people that have had an impact on me are people that I know--family and friends and so on. I began this series, actually this summer, with a master list of 65 names. I listed all the names in a blog in June and then started writing profiles every few weeks based on the categories "Family", "Friends", "Spiritual Guides", "Catalysts" (people who did something small that changed the direction of my life), "Teachers and Mentors", "From A Distance" (people I don't know in the traditional sense of the word--you all were part of that category), and now I have one more category to cover "Inspirations 2007" (my heroes for this year specifically). Writing these "Most Influential" profiles has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

I'm glad it's meant something to you and I look forward to hearing more about the people who have shaped who you are today.
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Old 10-08-2007, 02:44 AM   #18
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Hmmm, five spiritual role models, one artistic inspiration, and "a cybertribe of ordinary human beings who've made an anonymous and extraordinary difference." Pretty elevated company! I guess we do collectively add up to...something around here--probably best not to try too hard to label what that might be though, lol.

I had to laugh at your confession that there was a time when you would've dismissed communing with a bunch of "cyberfriends" as "hokey" (and that your 'better half' did too--unfortunately, mine still does ). I wrote a journal entry awhile back myself on coming to terms with that change in outlook through Interference.
Originally posted by U2democrat
Sean. Thanks for thinking of us.

...This community has opened my eyes to things I never thought I'd see...as well as bonded friendships with wonderful people I would otherwise not know existed.
Actually, I don't know that I could summarize it any better than that.

In general, I seldom find that people I don't know have all that much of an impact on my life (though really, I 'know' several people around here better than I 'know' any of the below). But in the spirit of the thread, I think I can come up with a few quasi-'famous' people:

Abraham Joshua Heschel -- is somewhat of an inherited influence; the photo in that link was on our living room wall growing up, my parents participated in that same march, and Heschel, along with several of its other famous participants, was someone they held in great esteem as a role model of what a committed moral and spiritual life should look like. As a child, I was really only aware of him as a 'Jewish activist,' and was surprised to discover much later that he also happened to have been one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. His books Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, and Torah min HaShamayim all 'made a difference' big-time in my life and spiritual outlook.

Lou Reed -- I think occupies a place in my life somewhat similar to what Neil Young does in BonosSaint's. Granted, much of the 'difference' he's made is bound up in the usual irrational nostalgia for the exhilaration of teenagerdom (years which--as with most of us, I suspect--I in truth wouldn't repeat for anything)...tramping all over Brooklyn with my best friend quoting snippets from New York to each other, attempting in vain to imitate that inimitable wry baritone drawl. As with most so-called 'dinosaurs,' his output has varied too much in style (and, yeah, quality) over four decades to be easily characterized. But a near-constant characteristic of it, and one that always draws me back, is his insistence on finding humanity in all its messiness--the bleakness, wonderment, pettiness, tenderness, disillusionment and stubborn hope--in the most unlikely and unexpected people and places.

Chaim Potok -- if known to anyone else here at all, would most likely be known for his 1967 novel The Chosen, still a staple on many high school reading lists and, like most of his novels, a kind of spiritual-intellectual Bildungsroman. Most of his works revolve to some degree or another around the theme of reconciling the gift of an Orthodox Jewish upbringing with the gift of secular modernity, so that's all very familiar to me and part of why they mean so much. (Although the first book of his I read--I Am the Clay, good but not one of his best--draws on his own experiences serving as a chaplain in the Korean War, and is the story of a Korean peasant couple and a war orphan they take in.) While in college, I managed to acquire a first edition of The Chosen and got this crazy idea in my head that it would be really cool to somehow get him to sign it. That led to a phone call to his publisher, which to my astonishment led to me finding myself on the phone with Potok himself, which to my even greater astonishment led to me being cheerfully invited to "just drop by" his house, as if I were a family friend. I spent an hour or so talking with him and his wife, after which he signed my copy with a simple little benediction. I cherish that souvenir and will always hold onto it.

Thanks for the warm thoughts Sean, and I'm looking forward to seeing others' lists also.
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:48 AM   #19
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Old 10-08-2007, 07:25 AM   #20
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Bill Hicks - a man who opened my eyes to the world. he's exposed the hypocrisy and brutality of government and religeon. he's given me a more mature liberal attitude towards sex and drugs. his ideas about treating everyone equally regardless of faith or colour and about using the billions of dollar we spend on pointless wars and space exploration to be spent on feeding and clothing the poor and impoverished of the world still resonate with me. such a shame he passed away 13 years ago at such a young age. i hope he'll still be relevent in 100 years time. and he made me laugh too, as that was his job after all

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