Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dallas Notes: Dallas Willard Celebration of Life (USC, October 4, 2013)

Dallas Willard Celebration of Life

Most wonderful teacher and example for young people.
‘And so ended our friend, the best, wisest and most just man we have ever known’ — Plato of Socrates in the Phaedo

[I wish I’d gotten a PhD under Dallas. But I can study his work now as much as I want to, as much as You call me to.]

It is one of the great honors of my life to have been called friend by this man and I aim to make myself worthy of that distinction.

Many unique insights were ‘hard-won’
[Dallas exemplified his own teaching: work hard and trust God for the results, which will be beyond your own capabilities]
Seeking ‘cognitive clarity'

‘How do you become the kind of person who smiles at students [and means it?]?’
‘That is a serious question’
His answer went right through my heart, a life-changing conversation.

Thank you, Dallas Willard for the decisions you made to become the kind of person you were b/c you saved my life. [parallel example to heart surgeon]
I’m a far better man than I would have been. A better father, husband, friend.
I can’t think of higher praise for a teacher of ethics than to say Dallas Willard was without question the finest and best man I have ever met.

His greatest service may have been to generations of undergrads, to whom he was legendary

He taught me what it means to love a person.
On the first day of class he wrote his home phone number on the blackboard and told us to call anytime if we had a question
Love your enemy as yourself

I think Dallas was the best thing about USC
In class, everyone actually listened to what he had to say
Many students would go up to ask questions after class and I would go up even if I didn’t have a question b/c I liked to be in his presence, it made me feel better about the world.
Outside of class you could stop by his office and he had time for you. He cared about people.

Discussion of unfinished book: The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge

Exemplified more than anyone I know the beauty of virtue
Is Professor Willard for real? Is he as authentically good as he seems?
Gave students hope that they could be better people
Dallas’ life was a challenge. Some refused and left.
Legacy is changed lives represented by people who knew him
If we accept his definition that beauty is goodness made visible, Dallas is the most beautiful man I have ever met. 

‘I’m studying whatever that man teaches, b/c he knows what he’s talking about. … More than that, he lived what he was talking about. … His genius was in creating a safe and open dynamic that encouraged genuine reflection. … What I’m most grateful for is the life he showed me it was possible to live b/c he himself exemplified it.