On the day before the Super Bowl, I’m guessing the short supply of serious newspaper readers is smaller than usual.
Still, the mention of Michael Gerson in today’s New York Times demands attention, though he can no longer know that anyone cares. He was a good man and perhaps a great one who died in December. Fifty-eight is too young for the departure of a person whose presence on the earth made it a better place.
Funny, I should say that. I didn’t always agree with his politics and didn’t vote for the President for whom he wrote speeches.
But in my book, I don’t have to agree with you to admire you, as I did him. I envied his gift of language, his principled stance on matters of importance, and a heroic battle that found him outlasted by death: a bigger-than-life opponent with an undefeated record.
Gerson fought a chemically-based depression severe enough for hospitalization, serious heart disease, and cancer that killed him. Outnumbered, you might say, but not out of hope, faith, and love.
I don’t have to believe in your faith to praise the way you go beyond the weekly attendance at a house of worship to live it. Gerson lived his own beliefs in deep consideration and helping the unfortunate. President Biden just hailed the 20th anniversary of the “President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief” created by President George W. Bush and Mr. Gerson. In today’s Times, Peter Baker said their effort saved more than 25 million lives.
Since my words pale to Michael Gerson’s, I hope you watch and listen to him in the video above, an invited Sunday sermon given three years ago. He will tell you enough about his troubles, his concern for the disadvantaged, and his belief in something transcendent to regret his early passing.
The Super Bowl can’t do that, though I hope you enjoy it.
A few seconds at halftime won’t be wasted to remember a humble, wounded, and wise man beyond describing with anyone’s words but his own.
A beautiful post, Dr. Stein, and a most beautiful speech! Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you, Kendra. I’m glad you watched the video. He was a serious and devoted man, all the rarer for creating consistency and meaning through deeds that matched his words.
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Gift of language, indeed. Thank you so much for sharing. I hadn’t heard of his passing. 🤍
He did not acquire the sort of fame that would have turned him into a subject of everyday conversation. Gerson certainly was not a household name, but not less for that.
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Dr. Stein, thanks for bringing Michael Gerson to our attention. Like you, I can admire someone without having to agree with them. His featured Sunday sermon is filled with insight, worthy of reflection.
Thank you, Rosaliene. A great loss.
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Wow, Dr. Stein. I wasn’t familiar with Michael Gerson before this post. Listening to the speech, I can see where your high opinion of his talents and character come from.
But I love that you posted this, especially, or maybe because of, your qualifiers. “But in my book, I don’t have to agree with you to admire you, as I did him.” What a beautiful statement about how we all should be open to others of character, even when we disagree.
And your conclusion – beautiful. Gone too soon for sure. But there is so much inspiration that comes from your sentiment “Outnumbered, you might say, but not out of hope, faith, and love.” Wonderful!
Thank you, Wynne. His last jobs included a twice-a-week column for the Washington Post (to which he referred) and a weekly guest spot as the political opinion voice opposite Mark Shields. For what it is worth, Gerson began as a clear and thoughtful conservative voice, but by the Trump years, he had trouble abiding by what had happened to those statesmen on the right he used to admire. He also referred to this early in the video.