Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Last Lecture

Last Fall, I came across a column in the Wall Street Journal about a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University named Randy Pausch. On many college campuses there is a tradition of inviting professors to deliver a 'Last Lecture.' These talks are prepared to answer the question, "If you were only able to teach one more class before you die, what would you say."

When he was asked to give such a talk at Carnegie Mellon, it was more than an intellectual exercise for Prof. Pausch. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - a particularly aggressive form of the disease with a low survival rate. Randy's talk is extremely inspiring and has moved across the internet at a rate that even exceeds to growth of his cancer. More than six million people around the world have viewed it. The video is widely available online and runs a little more than an hour. If you have not seen it already, stop readying my drivel and go watch it! Have a box of Kleenex nearby.

The popularity of the Lecture, and the universality of Prof. Pausch's message have given birth to all sorts of spin offs. He has been on Oprah, the CBS Evening News has done updates. This Wednesday, April 9, 2008, Diane Sawyer will do an hour-long special on his story. That same week, a book based on his lecture will hit bookstands.

Randy's message is delivered as only a scientist can. There is no explicit mention of religion or his personal beliefs. However, as a Christian, I could not help but see the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Randy's talk. He most certainly 'gets it'!

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