Dying to Anonymity

I recently started reading Carl Rogers’ very interesting book titled, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy.

There are many gems already, but check out this one in particular with my emphasis added:

During this past year the Student Union Forum Committee at Wisconsin made a somewhat similar request. They asked me to speak in a personal vein on their “Last Lecture” series, in which it is assumed that, for reasons unspecified, the professor is giving his last lecture and therefore giving quite personally of himself. (It is an intriguing comment on our educational system that it is assumed that only under the most dire circumstances would a professor reveal himself in any personal way.) In this Wisconsin talk I expressed more fully than in the first one the personal learnings or philosophical themes which have come to have meaning for me. In the current chapter I have woven together both of these talks, trying to retain something of the informal character which they had in their initial presentation. The response to each of these talks has made me realize how hungry people are to know something of the person who is speaking to them or teaching them. Consequently I have set this chapter first in the book in the hope that it will convey something of me, and thus give more context and meaning to the chapters which follow.

This excerpt causes me to speculate that, perhaps one reason why people tend to fear both mortality and public speaking so much is the same: it amounts to a death to anonymity. The person is revealed in an eminent way that is vulnerable and transparent. And, interestingly, this can be attractive and hospitable for others who can be received into a story without posturing and pretence, but filled with sincerity and reality.

The Value of a Last Lecture

Today I am remembering Fr. James V. Schall – Jesuit priest, longtime professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, and the author of more than thirty books. He died around this time two years ago.

I had heard that he had given a Last Lecture at Georgetown entitled “The Final Gladness,” but I only listened to it for my first time this evening.

Here is the video of the lecture and below are some highlights in summary as well as some brief thoughts on the value of a last lecture.

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