Final (not) Thoughts

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve aged is that I pay attention to necrologies a lot more.  Few people from my college and seminary days stay in touch, and the same is true of my teaching days.  People are busy, I know, but I always look at alumni magazines memorial pages.  Whenever I get on the Society of Biblical Literature website a morbid curiosity draws me to the list of departed members.  I’ve known several of them in past years.  Still, it was a shock to see Michael S. Heiser on the list recently.  For one thing, Michael was younger than me, and for another, I knew him for a long time.  Theologically we were pretty far apart, but that never stopped us from being friends.  We both lived in Wisconsin and we both ended up in academic-adjacent jobs.  We shared an interest in unusual things and we were even blog buddies for awhile.  Michael died back in February.

I hadn’t heard because SBL moved its recently deceased list off the home page (I suspect that’s not the best marketing), so you have to click through.  But when I did I was saddened to see Michael there.  Then I notice two colleagues even younger who’d died in the last few months.  It gives you pause.  There are no guarantees in life, I know.  Those who manage to make it to my age are fortunate, but can generally expect to have a few more years.  That’s not a promise, however.  Having watched a lot (possibly too much) television in my life, it brought to mind a Frasier episode where a colleague the famous psychologist’s age died, sending Frasier into a search for reasons why.  That’s something those older than me tell me that I’d better get used to.

We tend not to want to think about it, but I’ve had both a parent and parent-in-law say how strange it is to find yourself old while still thinking like a young person.  It is bewildering.  And it’s one of the reasons I write so frenetically.  It was after I finished my third book, I think, that I realized I didn’t have all the time in the world left.  I have lots of books I want to write, many of them already started and slumbering on my hard drive.  Michael was also a prolific writer, and a more successful one than I have become.  His blog had more followers.  And it seems like only yesterday that I ran into him at an SBL meeting and he did an impromptu interview with me.  Life’s too short not to stay in better touch.

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