Six People

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, May 9, 2013

Barbara Streisand was recently asked “the question.”  You know it.  It’s been around for ages:

“If you could invite anyone, past or present, what six people would you invite for dinner?”

This was her list:  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Edward Hopper (American realist painter), Gustav Klimt (Australian symbolist painter) and Fanny Brice (early 20 century singer/actress who Streisand portrayed in “Funny Girl”).

Who would you pick?

Let’s take the easy one, the incarnate Jesus, off the list.  We would all want Him for dinner, to be sure.  But then again, knowing how some of His dinner conversations went, maybe not.  But we’ll bracket Him off like we might the Bible for a list of best books.  He’s on a dinner list all His own.

Who else would we pick?

Let’s make it a little bit easier by breaking it down into two dinner parties – one for those who lived in the past, and one for those now alive.

I’ll go first.

Just so you know, these are not necessarily the ones I admire the most (though many of them I do), but the ones I would most like to talk with and see interact with others in conversation.  If I understand the exercise, that’s the point of the dinner list.

Also, I think I’ll omit those that I have had the privilege of already spending time with personally.  For me, that takes some off that I would have surely considered, such as the novelist P.D. James, the British evangelical leader John Stott, or the great evangelist Billy Graham.

So, for me…

From the past:  Though my short list included Emily Bronte, G.K. Chesterton, the biblical Esther, Corrie ten Boom, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, Harry Houdini, Steve Jobs, Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan, my final selection for six historical dinner guests would be:  C.S. Lewis, Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, the Apostle Paul and Adolf Hitler (a horrible person of evil, I know, but would be fascinating to question).

From the present:  Again, my short list was filled with names such as Bono, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Hillary Clinton and Oprah, my final selection for six contemporary dinner guests would be: Stephen Colbert, Bruce Springsteen, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Paul McCartney and Tony Blair.

How about you?

So head over to the blog and “list” away, present and/or historical.

This ought to be fun.

(*We’ll try to compile the uber-list from the comments, meaning the top six historical, and top six current guests that most would want to have over, and send out via the C&C blog subscription list.)

James Emery White



“The 6 People Streisand Wants At Her Dinner Party,” April 21, 2013, The New York Times, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.