Friday, August 03, 2012

Nathaniel's last lecture: The Dirt on our Deathbeds

As my old friend Nathaniel Blumberg, felled by a stroke, lay dying in a Kalispell, Montana, hospital last February, several friends came to his bedside. They represented just a few of myriad friends whom the retired journalism professor had made over the years.

They were about to hear his one-sentence last lecture.

The 89-year-old Blumberg was a Rhodes Scholar, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, and a razor-sharp social critic and wit. He had been a crusading, innovative dean of the University of Montana School of Journalism in the Fifties and Sixties. He taught hundreds of students at the school for 35 years. He was an ardent advocate for social justice. Friends, many of whom were former students, knew him to be kind, enthusiastic, candid and brutally honest and out-spoken.

Those in the Kalispell hospital room were former students from decades ago. They would hear one last time from their professor, friend and mentor. His words are recounted in the Journalism School’s alumni magazine, “Communique.” The short item introduces several tributes.

He was “himself to the end,” the item begins. “Nathaniel asks his friends to remove a pile of dirt he sees on his bed. We look, then tell him there is no dirt. He keeps asking. Someone gently suggests that he might be hallucinating. After a short pause, he replies in a barely audible yet defiant voice, ‘You’re all hallucinating.”

Nathaniel, in addition to being himself to the end, was right to the end.

We ARE all hallucinating. We ARE leaving piles of dirt on our deathbeds. Let us see them...let us remove them before we die.

For more on Nathaniel Blumberg go HERE.

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Anonymous Angie said...

Christ is the only One who can remove the piles of dirt we all have. He died on a cross to pay the price for that, and when we hav faith on Him, the Bible says we are clothed on the righteousness of Christ. He died so that the sins of those who believe in Him will be forgiven

12:58 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

My friend was a secular Jew and didn't hold fundamentalist Christian views. He was one of the most profoundly moral, giving, loving, wise and righteous people I have known. Like Jesus, Nathaniel spoke truth to power. We will miss him. Whether Christ forgave him had no meaning to him or to us. As a Christian, I will try to live by his example and Jesus' which, frankly, seem to me to be one in the same.

10:49 AM  

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