An Uncommon Conversation
SET UP: Donald W. Gieschen is the author of this piece and, with the exception of the small talk, all of what Don says in the substantive conversations in An Uncommon Conversation is autobiographically true of the author in the sense that what Don says both accurately relates events in the author’s life and honestly expresses the authors thoughts on the subjects being talked about. The lunches are fictional. Paul is a fictional character created to be part of the conversation. Don is a self-professed atheist. The fictitious friend, Paul, is slightly younger than Don, and is a believer. They were close friends in their youth, almost like brothers, and have continued their friendship at a distance over the past years with letters and occasional visits. Paul, as he is portrayed, is rather easy going. He is married with a family and is here visiting. He is alone, staying with his son and the son’s family who have just recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Don lives in near-by Tempe. Paul is curious and is especially interested in other people and their lives, though not in an uncomfortable nosey way, as you will see. He graduated from the University of Michigan. From there he started up and ran a successful consulting business specializing in the field of health-care. Don and Paul both served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. We encounter them conversing over lunch at a local restaurant. Don, who does most of the talking, talks about his life and a great deal about his reasons for rejecting any form of religious faith. The conversation then takes up the question of moral values and morality in what according to Don is a Godless universe. Don’s views on faith and on ethics derive from his study and teaching of philosophy, though the areas of religion and ethics were not the areas of philosophy in which he concentrated his study and research or his teaching. The conversation between these two friends, with daily breaks, spans a five-day period.
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