John Hawkins conducted a poll asking for conservative bloggers’ top twenty lists for people who they’d like for dinner companions. Our blog hostess Sasha decided to make her list into one gigantic dinner party.
Back in the 1980s Steve Allen created a show for PBS called Meeting of Minds. In each of the 16 shows he held round-table discussions with four actors portraying historical figures. The premiere featured Sun Yat-Sen (Keye Luke), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Jayne Meadows Allen), Niccolo Machiavelli (Alfred Ryder), and Aristotle (Bernard Behrens). I vividly remember one episode in which Cleopatra (Meadows) stating that all those public works projects in Egypt couldn’t have been built without slave labor. No, FDR wasn’t on the same program.
The fun in getting historical figures of different eras together in one setting is seeing how they’d interact with each other. In a large party, people break off into clusters and conversations tend to be briefer, so you miss out on a lot of the potential dynamics. A small gathering of 4-7 people, on the other hand, keeps everybody together in one lengthy conversation.
What dinner parties of that type can y’all come up with? Here’s a few offerings:
Major religions: Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Lao-Tz’u, Confucius (although I get the impression that the latter would probably be surprised that his philosophy morphed into religion)
Eccentric American religions: Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard
20th Century Christian thinkers: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Francis Schaeffer
Early-Mid 20th Century Wits: Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, G. K. Chesterton, H. L. Mencken
Liberty: Samuel Rutherford, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand
Emperors/Despots: Rameses, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung
Military: Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Erwin Rommel, Douglas MacArthur, George S. Patton
Nobel Peace Laureates I: Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Andrei Sakharov, Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, Elie Wiesel, Shirin Ebadi
Nobel Peace Laureates II: Aristide Briand, Frank Kellogg, Henry Kissinger, Rigoberta Menchu Tum (see also here), Yasser Arafat, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter
Sci-fi: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, L. Neil Smith
Inventors: Archimedes, Johannes Gutenberg, Galileo Galelei, Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, Gugliemo Marconi, Thomas Edison
Flight: Orville and Wilbur Wright, Robert Goddard, Igor Sikorsky, Werner von Braun, Burt Rutan
The Willies: William, Duke of Normandy, William Wallace, William Shakespeare, William Shockley, Willy Brandt, William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, William Gibson
Now, come up with your own lists!