Bringing the Text to Life

The Most Influential Person Who Never Lived Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Most Influential Person Who Never Lived

We can learn from people who never lived.

At a Glance

Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, Hamlet, Tom Sawyer, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jane Eyre, Elmer Gantry, Madame Bovary, Sherlock Holmes, Tom Joad, Atticus Finch, Holden Caulfield. What do these people have in common? Although they're famous, none of them are real except in the pages of literature. They're fictional characters. This doesn't mean they're not influential characters. It only means that they never really lived. Like the Sower in today's gospel lesson.

Editors' Pick

For material based on today's epistle text, see "Unforced Errors," July 10, 2005, at

The most significant person who ever lived.

Numero Uno. In all of human history.

Who is it?

When TIME magazine tackled this question, they used a computer to aggregate "millions of traces of opinions," the way Google ranks web pages. The top results were not terribly surprising:

1. Jesus.
2. Napoleon.
3. Muhammad.
4. William Shakespeare.
5. Abraham Lincoln.

Going down the list, things...

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