Although I am among the 78 percent of Americans who call themselves Christians, if I weren't one, the aspect of the faith that would be the most appealing to me is the confidence and peace with which many of its adherents face death. And I can't think of a better example in contemporary life than a radio broadcaster named Frank Pastore who passed away today at the all-too-young age of 55.
Frank was that most unusual radio personality who let his guests really talk. The first few times I was on his show I spoke in my usual, quick sound bites as I've grown accustomed to doing. During commercial breaks, Frank would come on the call and encourage me to give longer answers and to talk about my wife and kids. It was a bit jarring a first, but once I got the hang of it I was able to give longer, complete answers and answer his personal questions as well.
But nothing was more spectacular than the way Frank ended his career in radio, and, it turns out, his life here on earth. On his final radio broadcast, just before he slipped on his helmet and began navigating the LA freeways, Frank said this to his radio audience on LA's powerhouse talk station KKLA:
Look you guys know I ride a motorcycle don't you? So, at any moment, especially with the idiot people who cross the diamond lane into my lane, alright, without any blinkers, not that I'm angry about it, but at any minute I could be spread out all over the 210 but that's not me, that's my body parts. That key distinction undergirds the entire Judeo-Christian worldview and also your pursuit of reality.
Three hours after uttering those words, a Hyundai Sonata drifted into his lane and sent Frank flying. Today, several weeks later, Frank's spirit is no longer with his body.
The Japanese poet Ayako Miura once observed: "Our last great mission in life is to die well."
By any measure, Frank Pastore didn't just die, he died well with the quiet confidence that many fellow true believers carry with them. If given the choice that night, it's likely that he would have asked for more time on the earth to be with his family and reach whatever goals he hadn't accomplished. Still, his final words remind me of the power of faith, lived out by a man of faith who was also firmly grounded in reality and who famously called his show "the intersection of faith and reason."
Frank Pastore loved to talk. And as usual he got in the last word, leaving the rest of us to ponder the mysteries of eternity and the great questions that humans have wrestled with since the beginning of time.