Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Death of a Mentor

This week, I learned that in December of 2008, Dr. William Placher, professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN died.  

In some ways, I am glad I did not learn about his death until the week following Easter.  Bill Placher was a man of unsurpassed intelligence, unsurpassed wisdom, unsurpassed ability to communicate complex things in simple ways, and unsurpassed moral centeredness and humility--all these great attributes in a single person.  At Wabash, Dr. Placher was and I imagine will forever be a legend.

As a young student, I figured such a legendary professor would be unapproachable and I shied away from initiating a relationship with him.  But during the summer before my senior year, Dr. Placher reached out to me, inviting me to lunch that we might get to know each other better and so he could help give me direction regarding what graduate programs I should apply to.  His ability to listen to me as a student and help clarify my own thoughts and even God's calling on my life are an important part of who I am today.

And so I am glad to have only learned of his passing in light of our recent celebration of Easter--resurrection is so real to me.  Bill Placher's love, righteousness, and firm grasp on who God is live on in many ways despite his passing.  Who he was as a scholar and teacher were so intertwined with who he is because of Christ that even in his death he seems still very much alive--certainly he is alive in my memory, in who I am today, and in who I long to become.