HONORING GEORGE KNIGHT
By LORETTA FULTON
If anyone could be pointed to as the perfect person to illustrate the topic of the 2018 Knight Lectures at Hardin-Simmons University, it was the series’ namesake, Dr. George Knight.
This year’s speaker, Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, spoke on the overall theme, “Dying to Live,” in two lectures Nov. 6.
Knight, who joined the HSU religion faculty in 1976 and retired in 2002, died Nov. 3 at age 81. A celebration of his life was held Nov. 7 at First Baptist Church. Travis Frampton, vice president for university mission and strategic vision at HSU, noted the irony of Knight’s death just days before the lectures named in his honor–and on the topic of living well and dying well.
“In some ways, he is teaching us still even in his passing,” Frampton said, “Let us remember Dr. Knight, his legacy.”
The guest lecturer, Clark-Soles, is a professor of New Testament and the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.
“Dying well is a dying art,” she said at the opening lecture on Nov. 6.
Clark-Soles served an internship in a hospice facility early in her studies. In that setting, she saw people dying well and dying poorly. In a class at Perkins on evil, suffering, and death, she encourages her students to do three things:
- Prepare to die well
- Be useful companions to the dying
- Stop saying “stupid” things about sin and dying
In her work with hospice, Clark-Soles said she witnessed something profound that is good to remember.
“Those dying well live fully in the present,” she said.
That was brought home to her when she vented to a hospice patient about a family member who wouldn’t call her. Clark-Soles said she had decided to wait out the relative. The dying woman asked her a question, “Do you want to talk to her?” When Clark-Soles said she did, the hospice patient said simply, “Call her.” In other words, live fully in the present.
From her work with hospice patients and her studies, Clark-Soles came up with eight markers of a good life and a good death: honesty, hope, faith, forgiveness, gratitude, legacy, connection, and love.
People sometimes fear they deserve to die due to sin. But, Clark-Soles reminded, there is more mercy in God than sin in us. Christians should hold firm to one reality about death.
“We may not know what lies beyond the grave,” she said, “but we know who is there.”