This hit my inbox this afternoon:
In case you hadn’t heard, Clark Goble just passed away from a stroke.
As I write this, I only have two contacts on my phone: my wife, and Clark Goble. I had to replace my phone while I was visiting Provo a month ago, so I lost all my old contacts and had to start a new list. I added Clark as we were arranging to meet so I could put a face with the person I had interacted with online.
Clark seemed in good health. For lunch, he ordered only a salad. Trying to get back in shape, he said. We caught up on our professional careers and academic interests and online experiences and family histories. He was excited about his kids, and his business was expanding, but Mormon blogs and Mormon academia were in a weird place right now, he thought.
My contact list is still stuck at two entries, and that is the only time I will meet Clark in this life.
In my online world, Clark leaves a much larger gap that is much more difficult to fill. I have never met anyone who could see both sides and maintain conversation across vast conceptual distances like he could. As I watched him participate in online conversations, sometimes picking up the pieces of a shambles I had created, I was in awe of his seemingly inexhaustible patience and ability to find common ground.
Clark’s patience was all the more surprising because it often seemed like he was the only one who had done the background reading. And that seemed to be true no matter what the topic was – whether philosophy, theology, scripture or church history, both ancient and modern, and much more. And yet it never made Clark arrogant. He would explain, over and over again, that some piece of evidence did not necessarily mean what someone else claimed it must mean. There were other ways to look at things. Clark would show you how.
And Clark loved the church. His posts were regular evidence that seeking out knowledge and thinking deeply could be joyful, not agonizing. Instead of complaining and criticizing, he explored and explained.
The world could use more people like Clark right now. If you would like to try but aren’t sure where to start, pick one:
Climb a mountain
Solve a problem
Start a company
Start a family
Choose the good life over the big score
Start another company
Look at all the evidence
Think of new possibilities
Write what is true