A monthly series in Vincentian Voices that asks five random questions to an Eastern Province Priest or Brother. This month, we talk with Fr. John Freund, CM. currently a writer for his own blog Vincentian Mindwalk. Check it out at: johnfreund.net.
Let me preface my answers by saying I find this series quite interesting. I also feel honored to respond to a second set of questions.
What was your favorite course or subject in school and why?
After thinking about this for a while I realized my answer would vary according to grade level, teachers who most impacted my life, and other variables.
These days I frequently think about a seminary course in what I then considered very dry material – logic.
As we enter more deeply into the morass of polarization of political and theological views, I go back to a seminary course almost 60 years ago. We learned about the fallacies that have been in use since ancient Greek times. We were trained to spot more than a few dozen types.
Today I recognize so many of them, dressed up in 21st century clothes. (Let me quickly add… I am not immune to falling into fallacious answers!). When I recognize them in myself or others, it reminds me to listen carefully to what the other is really trying to say. It is too easy to fill in the blanks incorrectly
What movie have you seen the most times? Please explain.
First let me say I am not a frequent moviegoer; however, I can single out two. “Monsieur Vincent” won Academy Awards some 70 years ago. It told, in very relatable terms, a story of the life of St. Vincent. It inspired many generations to follow in his footsteps.
My current favorite is an independently produced TV series, The Chosen. At last count it had garnered more than 300 million views on the internet in over 190 countries.
I find it a prayerful imaginative experience of the back stories of those whose lives were upended by the encounter with Jesus. I am particularly struck how I can recognize in myself and many other ordinary people today. Each time I view a segment I see new things in biblical stories that I never suspected.
If you could ask Saint Vincent de Paul one question, what is the question and why?
Because I shared my experience of The Chosen, the question I would like to ask Vincent is to teach me to experience the scriptures as he did.
In recent years I have come to understand why one of his contemporaries, the great St. Francis de Sales, referred to him as a “walking Bible”. It is clear he learned to see himself in what he read. He was able to see “translate” the scripture from the vantage of those on the margins. He lived what he read. Someone once said, “we need to read God’s word with the bible in one hand and the daily news in the other hand.”
Besides connecting with family and friends, what do you like to do in your free time?
Now that’s an easy one! From my father, I have inherited a strong sense of curiosity. I loved the 15-volume encyclopedia I grew up with as a child. My eyes and mind got wider and wider as I read.
Then came the internet! There are very few things for which I cannot find resources. I never had a computer course in my life, but I have learned to point and click my way to resources about whatever I am interested it. I suspect it is a factor in why I am not addicted to movies.
If you could have dinner with one non-religious historical figure (dead or alive), who would it be and why? What might you ask them?
I would love to sit down with any one of the great visionaries who saw new possibilities well before most of us. I would be hard pressed to pick one from the ranks of science fiction writers, inventors, all kind of artists and the like. Anyone who even just implicitly leads me to ask questions would be a likely candidate.
The question I would like to ask them is “What led you and helped you to think beyond the present reality?”
As I answer the above questions, I think of one of my father’s favorite phrases…Why not!