AP: Tell me about the book you are reading?
M: Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
AP: Is this about Saint Paul?
M: Yes. So this book is a commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans.
AP: So did Paul wrote a real letter to the Romans?
AP: Oh, I didn’t know that.
M: You don’t have church in Ukraine? What year were you born?
AP: I was born in 1987.
M: So you were baby when the Soviet Union collapsed.
AP: Yeah. But the Soviet Union was pretty secular atheist country.
M: How about your parents?
AP: I think in Ukraine nowadays a lot of people would say that they believe in God, but they go to the church only on Easter. So I don’t think they are very religious because it was after 70 years of Soviet rule. Maybe my grandma in her later years would still go to church, but the rest would not. I think even baptizing was prohibited.
M: Ok, I understand. So St. Paul wrote a letter to the Romans. It’s ten pages long. That was in the year 57AD. He wrote a letter to the Romans. He didn’t know them.
AP: And he was living in the Middle East at the time?
M: He was in Greece.
AP: What did he write?
M: He was writing about Jesus Christ to these people. He was trying to explain his theology.
AP: In 10 pages?
M: In 10 pages.
AP: So it’s very comprehensive account of Christianity?
M: It’s very dense. So you have ten pages letter, and then you have this book of commentaries(AP: add how many pages….).
AP: How did you find this book and why do you read it?
M: Here is an interesting story for you. A year ago I was reading Paul’s letter to the Romans. I was crying it with me to the mountains. I read it at night in a tent. It was snowing. We’ve got a blizzard. It was very dangerous, and we had to evacuate on skis. And I thought: "Ok, St. Paul. If you get me down the line, I’m going to read your letter and understand it and explained it to the people." So here you are.
AP: Wow, that sounds like a very mystical experience. On the mountain.
M: Yeah, it is.
AP: Why are you here? What are doing in Blue Bottle Coffee today?
M: My son has a guitar lesson, and I just wait for him.
AP: How often do you read?
M: I read every day.
AP: What do you read beyond this book?
M: I’m reading an Aeneid by Virgil. Do you know that?
M: Did you read him? What did you study in school?
AP: I don’t think I’ve read it. But there is famous Ukrainian author, and he made the Ukrainian version of the same story.
M: Do you speak Latin?
AP: No, I don’t. Why do you read Virgil?
M: I’m reading Paul’s Letter because I’m going to the Church tomorrow and we have a class.
AP: You have a class on Paul’s Letter?
M: Yeah, we started a month ago. Once a month for one hour.
AP: How does it work?
M: So you go to Church, and after that, you gather in the room. 20 people show and we have a discussion. We explain who Paul is, who were the Romans and why did he write to them. We spend an hour just talking about that.
AP: Do you speak Latin?
M: I don’t. My son gave me Aeneid for Christmas. I asked for it.
AP: Oh, that is the best gift.
M: Yeah, it’s a new translation.
AP: So you said that you read a lot. Do your kids read?
M: Yeah, they read a bit. But they have a lot of school reading.
AP: Why do you read yourself.
M: Oh, I’m addicted.
AP: That is good way putting it.
M: I’m always reading.
AP: What about your family, your parents?
M: They’ve read a lot. I think it’s important in general. I hear a lot of young people don’t read as much because they are on their phones all the time. So we encourage reading in our household.
AP: How do you do that?
M: Well I do read a lot.
AP: So by setting an example?
M: Yes. Also if they want a book, I say "Let’s go get it."
AP: Do you always finish your books?
M: I typically do finish a book.
AP: Do you read few books at the same time?
M: I might be reading 5 or 10. I’m reading this book(commentary), I’m reading Aeneid, I’m reading Siddhartha.
AP: Oh, that is a good one.
M: I started a new one this morning, but I don’t remember a name of it. And I have a bunch of science books in physics, biology.
AP: Is it your interest or somehow related to your profession?
AP: Interesting, how come? Paul’s Letter and physics seem a bit far away from each other.
M: Here is a story for you. My wife’s best friend - she was dead at the time - she came to me in a dream and said to study physics.
AP: When was that?
M: 10 years ago.
AP: So you are trying to bring religion and science together? To reconcile them?
M: Yeah, that is what I’m trying to do. She came to me and didn’t say to study Paul’s letter.
AP: What is your profession?
M: Real estate. It has nothing to do with all of this.
AP: Do you have the most life changeling book?
M: My favorite book in college was Faust by Goethe. That is a book I would recommend to anyone who is young. I never read a Walden, but I gave it to my son. For his 18th birthday, I gave him a Book of Virtues. It’s famous. By William Bennett.
It was very interesting conversation for me. I had a chance to learn a bit more about Western branch of Christianity. We talked a bit about connection of science and religion, Einstein and Bing Bang.