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The world has lost Randy Pausch. Temporarily. The Carnegie Mellon prof who gained acclaim and then wrote a best-selling book about dying of cancer has passed away in the last few hours. He was 47. His story is particularly touching to me because he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at precisely the time that my wife was initially diagnosed with the same illness. Our initial scans showed a mass on her pancreas and a number of spots that looked liked metastasized tumors on her liver. We spent several weeks contemplating the possibility that Beth would be gone within 3 months to a year, just like Randy’s family. Thankfully for us, when we went to the Mayo clinic a more focused scan revealed that the local doctors had seen false positives. But the confrontation with death left us with a deeper sympathy and deeper sense of purpose for living well and loving much. Randy’s response is bittersweet to say the least. While we admire his refusal to whine or complain, we cannot help but ask why death happens, and what the purpose of human life might be, if there is one at all. For myself, times like this make me embarrassed to have to identify with the Christian community… because the dark side of orthodoxy is that it believes, and sometimes even says out loud, that people like Randy are “lost”… a euphemism for an eternal destiny of hopeless, conscious torment “in the hands of an angry God.” Randy brings a tear to most of our eyes when he chooses to be satisfied with the amount of life he has enjoyed. He is thankful for his parents, thankful for his job, thankful for his family and the many dreams he has been able to achieve. But as a participant in the Christian community I’m embarrassed to say that the ugliness of Calvinist or even Arminian theology casts the darkest of shadows on every life, no matter how well lived, which does not end with the unqualified acceptance of their Molechian concept of deity. I know my Christian brothers who believe in hell would be offended by my comparison of their faith to the “God of drums” — the awful pounding of sacred drums to drown out the screams of children thrown, alive, into the red-hot arms of a flaming deity. And yet that is the unvarnished truth when you really face Christian doctrine head-on without flinching. Am I right? Challenge me if you think not. I am crying right now, in grief for Randy’s wife, his kids, his many friends and colleagues, his students. What a great man he was. But I am also deeply happy, because the Bible is so crystal clear, so brightly unambiguous, that orthodoxy is dead wrong and doomed to full disclosure and embarrassment; and that Randy has not delivered his last lecture. Randy will be back … with songs, with joy, with the same humility and fun-loving spirit that he carried into the grave. If I read Isaiah correctly, the karma of Randy is far closer to the truth than what Isaiah called the “refuge of lies”. I’m well aware of the proof texts that folks use, and I have spent years in sweet fellowship with good Christian brothers and sisters who are persuaded that these lies (which originated in the Garden of Eden) are true. But the hail that is now decimating the Christian church and making this the post-Christian era is forcing Bible-believing Christians to re-examine the Bible and see what it really says. And to admit that if God is indeed love, there is no way he’s got a guy like Randy Pausch on the wrong side of eternity. No way.

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