The story of how I came to not only interview, but film and take portraits of Richard Swinburne is kinda interesting. I had heard that Richard would be lecturing in Houston the beginning of March 2018, and planned on attending, but I never dreamed that I would actually land an interview with him, let alone have the chance to have it filmed. It’s still pretty surreal even as I’m writing this.
Sequence of Events
Ben Arbour, a philosopher out of Dallas (whom we also filmed an interview with), contacted me a few weeks prior to the Swinburne event asking if I would be interested in interviewing Richard. I initially planned to do an audio-only interview. This was by far the easiest route. It was only until I posted about the opportunity on my Facebook page that a videographer friend of mine, Raleigh, suggested I have it filmed.
Here’s a pic of Raleigh and I after we filmed all three interviews:
I knew that Raleigh was a videographer, and I intuited he was a very good one. In weeks prior, he had created (at my request) a custom intro video to be played at the beginning of our videos. Just a quick 15-second clip that introduces the Capturing Christianity logo and website to new viewers. The intro video was so good–which, as a professional photographer, my standards are gratuitously high–that I knew his video skills had to have been top-tier as well. So when he suggested on Facebook that I film the interview, I already knew who I wanted to do it.
So I began setting the events in motion. We went back and forth with Swinburne, back and forth with Ben, back and forth with Raleigh, making sure that everything was ready to go for the weekend. We even launched a campaign to fly Raleigh and his wife down. It was smooth sailing until Monday evening, a little less than a week from the interview.
Coincidence or Nah?
Luckily by this point, all of the details were pretty much decided and there was not much left to do until the event arrived. We had already talked about gear, lighting, times, location, etc. Then, virtually out of nowhere, I fell violently ill Monday night. I was so sick that my wife rushed me to Urgent Care. I was diagnosed with dehydration and the stomach flu. The following day I couldn’t get out of bed. I was so tired, I slept literally the entire day. I vaguely remember my 2.5 year old coming home that evening to note how sick I was and offer a prayer.
Wednesday and Thursday roll around and I’m still too weak to do much of anything. By Wednesday I was eating and drinking some, and by Thursday I was trying to eat as much as I could to build back my strength. Fortunately this worked and Friday I was able to do what I had planned (still taking it easy). By Saturday, the day of the interviews, I was nearly back to 100%.
While it could have been sheer coincidence that I fell violently ill just days before (arguably) the most important weekend thus far for Capturing Christianity, the possibility of a much larger, spiritual battle has certainly crossed my mind. Over the years I’ve grown rather skeptical of demonic activity and the like, but in this instance, I’m not so sure. This possibility was further cemented by the fact that not only did I fall seriously ill, but I was also back to my normal self the very day we were scheduled to film.
Moreover, when I met up with Raleigh and his wife on Friday (we went to go listen to a lecture and then location scout), I learned that Raleigh and I share very similar stories. We both grew up Christian, both share a passion for art, both have an interest in apologetics, and both recently had a brother deconvert from Christianity to atheism. Our stories are remarkably similar.
If I’ve learned anything from reading J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity, it’s that circumstantial evidence like this eventually piles up. While it could be a big coincidence that all of these events fell into place as they did (including Ben’s serendipitous call), it does seem to point to something bigger.
Richard does a great job in the interview providing an overview of his career (~15 minutes worth!), so we’ll get straight to his portraits. Here are a few of my favorites:
The interview itself runs a total of 44 minutes. As I mention above, the first 15 minutes or so Richard provides a comprehensive overview of his influential career as a Christian philosopher. If you would like to skip that section and listen to the Q&A I had prepared in advance, navigate to the 15-minute mark.
Big shoutout to Raleigh and his wife for filming and editing this interview (as well as putting up with my directives). Video editing is something that I, as a photographer, stay away from precisely because I know how much work is involved. The fact they were able to get it done in such a short amount of time is nothing short of miraculous. And I couldn’t be happier with the end result!
I plan on turning the interview into a podcast episode, so if you prefer to listen that way, be on the lookout.
Special thanks to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – Houston for allowing us to use their facilities for the interview, especially at such late notice.