Douglas Wilson has kindly agreed to answer these questions which I modified slightly. Some of the answers I suspected prior to sending it: specifically his father and CS Lewis; but most of this was new to me. And he reveals a dilemma I had been waiting to ask about on his blog at some stage: Why are there 40 odd books lying around his house (or on his computer) waiting to be published?
Interview with Douglas Wilson
1. What was your earliest ambition?
I remember that it was around the sixth grade, and I wanted to “make books.”
2. After Jesus, who has been your biggest inspiration: person? author?
The person would have to be my father, Jim Wilson.
The writer who has had the most influence on me—by far and away—would be C.S. Lewis.
3. What was the worst mistake in your career?
Besides apprenticing with El Chapo?
Actually, my besetting mistake is one I have made more than once. In starting things up, I have been too eager to be seen as “not grasping” and have consequently been too quick to delegate too much responsibility.
4. What was your best career move?
I have been privileged to start many ministries, and my name isn’t on any of them.
5. Who has been the best and the worst president in your lifetime? And why?
I would say that Ronald Reagan [(1981–1989)] was the best and that LBJ was the worst. Reagan did what he could to slow the gargantuan growth of government, and was moderately successful—while also winning the Cold War.
LBJ [Lyndon B. Johnson, (1963–1969)] was a cold Machiavellian, coupled really bad policy.
6. Who has been the best and the worst president ever (this can be the same as above)? And why?
Here I would say Calvin Coolidge [(1923–1929)] and Woodrow Wilson [(1913–1921)], respectively. Coolidge was president during the modern era and demonstrated that respect for constitutional limits is not limited to backward agrarian societies.
Wilson was a disaster, primarily in his treatment of those same constitutional restrictions.
7. Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
Going back to an earlier answer, C.S. Lewis.
8. If you were given $1 million what would you spend it on?
I would (most likely) spend it on getting all that I have written editorially straightened out and cleaned up. I would get my blog archives indexed, tagged, and thoroughly edited for publication. All the material buried in my computer would be sorted out, edited and prepared for publication. Books already written would be organized and sorted out.
9. Where are (or were) you happiest?
I would have to say sitting around visiting after dinner with family is the best. Right after that would be having a great idea or “hook,” and writing it out while I am “in the zone.”
10. What single change has made the most difference in pastoring in your lifetime?
I would have to say the incorporation of personal computing power into everyday life. From email to social media, to writing for ministry, to sermon prep, to phone apps, the life of the average congregation is very different from what it was.
11. What book (other than the Bible) should every Christian read?
Pilgrim’s Progress. Which you can now do on your phone.
12. What further book should every pastor read?
Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon. A lot of books for pastors have great material, but this book is full of horse sense.
13. What poem, song, or prose would you like people at your funeral to hear? Which passage of Scripture?
Of course, we would construe it in a way completely differently than the way he did, but I love the words of Stevenson’s Requiem.
Under the wide and starry skyThe passage of Scripture would be this:
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people A feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined (Is. 25:6).14. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Besides my collection of Marvel comics in the basement? Just kidding. Probably cookie dough ice cream.
15. If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
Investigative journalism at Planned Parenthood national headquarters.
16. What is your most treasured possession? (Not a person.)
I think I would say it is the Guild guitar that I bought in the mid-seventies.
17. What personal ambition do you still have?
I would like to write a comprehensive work that is called something like Institutes of Poetic Theology. And if it is not too much to ask, I would like for it to be really good.
18. Summarise your personality in three words.
Sturdy, humorous, hard-working.
19. What are your favourite 3 alcoholic drinks?
Rusty Nail, 23-year-old Pappy VanWinkle, and Fat Tire beer.
20. What is your pet hate?
Dishonesty in argument.
21. What do you consider your most important book?
I think I would say Reforming Marriage.
22. What would be on the menu for your last supper?
Wedge salad with bacon, filet mignon, cheese potatoes, green beans, and chocolate ice cream.
23. Do you have any regrets about becoming a pastor?
None at all. I tried to have preemptive regrets beforehand, but now, looking back, I see that this is what I was made for.
24. If you weren't in your present position what would you be doing instead?
I would want to be a political writer—books and opinion columns, not speeches.