Milt Hankins: Taking time to answer life's questions
Last year for my New Year's column, I wrote about lessons I had learned in 70 years. This year I borrow an idea from the back page of "Vanity Fair." The page asks well-known people questions about themselves. Here's how I'd answer some of those questions:
Religion or politics? Both. My whole life, to the neglect of other essential pursuits, I've been interested in religion and politics. I'm passionate about political campaigns.
What are your most treasured possessions? An I.D. bracelet purchased the day after I received my discharge from the U.S. Air Force. I treasure a ring my father-in-law brought back from Iran in 1943. I love my Master Study Bible (NASV) from a church I served. I would grieve over the loss of any one of these items.
What do you like least about yourself? The general perception, by people who do not know me well, that I am smug and arrogant. Also, my affinity for debate and argumentation.
What do you consider perfect happiness? Vacationing with my wife.
Which living person(s) do you most admire? Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
What trait do you most deplore in yourself? My inability to relate amicably to people who see nothing of value in my strongly held liberal, progressive principles.
How well do you accept criticism? Criticism? What criticism?
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue? Righteousness.
What do you most regret? No regrets. Regretting the past (which we cannot change) is a total waste of time and energy.
What talent would you most like to have? An ability to use tools and fix things.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To be perfectly honest, I like myself the way I am!
What do you consider your greatest achievement(s)? Having a sermon published in "Pulpit Digest," writing my latest book "A Sensible Theology for Thinking People" and having two great loves during my lifetime.
Who are your favorite writers? Lee Childs, Ann Rule, Garry Wills, John Shelby Spong and Marcus J. Borg.
Your favorite fictional hero? Jack Reacher.
What is your favorite book? The Bible, which I have read from cover to cover probably 10 or 12 times.
What is it you most dislike? The legalistic and fundamentalist idea which implies, "If you don't believe like I believe, you are not 'saved' and are going to hell." Self-righteousness and bigotry!
How would you like to die? Peacefully, holding my wife's hand.
Do you believe in an after-life? Most definitely, but I don't believe it is based on rewards and punishments. God is bigger than that!
What's your motto? "Always try to do the right thing in every situation." Also, I like "Better to remain silent and have people think you are stupid than to speak up and remove all doubt."
Your basic life philosophy? I believe one should live every day as though it were his or her last. That being said, every day we should do only those things we truly enjoy doing.
Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.