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West­blade visited Mount Nemrut in Turkey.
Courtesy | Don West­blade

What is one trend from your teenage years you wish would come back?  There’s a lot I wish wouldn’t come back. I’m glad we don’t have paisleys and bell­bottoms and flower people. I wasn’t very trendy in those days. Skiing was a lot cheaper; I enjoyed that. What is one book you think is under­rated? Every book gets somebody who thinks it’s top notch. One book that probably scares people away because of its title is G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy.” It’s a hilarious book. I’ve given a lot of copies of that book away. What’s one word people use to describe you? Calvinist, by which I mean Calvin and Hobbes. My kids wouldn’t even need a word, they would just roll their eyes at my dad jokes. How do you spell an eye roll? When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? At first I thought I wanted to be a chemist because I thought it would be fun to blow stuff up. In college I wanted to go to law school until I took a law class. I went to sem­inary to think about the problems, eth­i­cally, of being a lawyer: being hired to do whatever people hire you to do whether you think it’s moral or not. I went to sem­inary to think about that and I just fell in love with doing the­ology. What is one thing you believed as a college student that you still believe today?God is good. God is trust­worthy. That’s a cen­ter­piece of who I am. What is one thing you believed as a college student you’ve since changed your mind about? I was in a group in college called the Northern Berk­shire Com­munity for Non­vi­olent Alter­na­tives. I still prefer non­vi­o­lence, but I probably see more reason for taking up arms than when I was in college. What is one memory from your childhood that stands out to you? I must’ve been kind of clumsy because I had lots of sets of stitches growing up. Those stand out in my memory. Happier moments are just carousing around the neigh­borhood with my friends.  What is the most mem­o­rable gift you’ve ever received? I have a few Bibles in my col­lection that are quite mem­o­rable from stu­dents and churches where I worked. I suppose God’s gift of children to me is probably top of the list. What is the sweetest thing one of your kids or grandkids has ever said to you?  I have a four year old grandson and sadly he lost his other grandpa. When he calls all of his grand­parents by name he says ‘Grandma so-and-so’ and ‘Grandma so-and-so.’ He looked at me and just called me ‘Grandpa grandpa.’ I never antic­i­pated that but I like to be called Grandpa grandpa. What is one thing most people don’t know about you? I had a ZZ Top sort of beard for about 5 years. I was sort of rab­binic and had a lot of authority for a while until I took that off.  Do you have any hidden hobbies or talents? I program com­puters. If you could spend one day with any his­torical figure who would you choose? Jesus. I’d also love to spend some time with the Apostle Paul. I’ve got some ques­tions for him. I’d love to sit down with Jonathan Edwards. If you won $1 million, how would you spend it?  I’d give it away, most of it. Giving things away is the secret of life, for hap­piness. Have you been on any mem­o­rable mission trips? I have sent a lot of student trips from here to Uganda. We had a student here whose family runs a children’s center in Uganda. She was here in the 90s. From that time on we’ve sent a lot of trips over there, and I finally got to go myself. I’ve been a couple of times and I love the kids who are there. Those have been very mem­o­rable to me: the inspi­ration that those kids are to me, and the mirac­ulous things they’re doing to elim­inate father­lessness in Uganda. Who is someone you’ve always looked up to outside of imme­diate family? John Piper. He and I have been friends for about 40 years. He’s a pastor in Min­nesota who is now retired but he’s written tons of books and has started a min­istry called Desiring God Min­istries. He’s fairly well known but he was just a fellow sem­inary student when we first got to know each other.  What is one way you hope to impact your stu­dents? One thing I want my stu­dents to realize when they’re 20 instead of waiting until they’re 80 is that giving yourself away is what makes humans happy. I think that’s why God created us, because he wanted to give himself away. What other reason would there be? He had all of his needs met so now he just wants to do some­thing fun and overflow like a fountain into other people. Too many people don’t dis­cover that until they’re sitting on top of their pile of gold like Smaug in his lair real­izing, ‘This hasn’t made me happy and now I’ve run out of time.’ I try to help my stu­dents under­stand that helping other people with their needs is the greatest aspi­ration and one of the greatest sources of hap­piness.