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There was a time when not every College football game was televised. So it was exciting when a Nebraska Cornhusker football game was to be on TV and it was even better when was on ABC, since that meant that the announcer would likely be Keith Jackson. It seemed to most of us that the national media did not much care for Nebraska football, that, for whatever reason, they seemed biased against the Huskers but no so Keith Jackson. He clearly loved sports (he called a wide variety of contests) and he seemed to have genuine affection for the history and traditions associated with Nebraska football. He treated us fairly. If we could not listen to an actual Cornhusker call a Nebraska game (e.g., the redoubtable Lyle Bremser) then Keith “Whoa Nellie” Jackson was the next best thing.
Jackson died yesterday aged 89. You can read elsewhere about his remarkable career and gifts as a announcer. What struck me this morning as I read of his death was how widespread the expression “pass away” has become in conjunction with death. Virtually every headline or story said, “Keith Jackson passes away.” It has been argued to me that the expression “to pass away” in this context is traceable to Christian Science. I have not been able to verify that claim. It is true that the expression “pass away” does occur about 31 times in Scripture. At least some uses are similar to our expression, “he passed” or “she passed away.” E.g., “he passed away and lo, he was no more” (Ps 37:36); “for all our days pass away” (Ps 90:9); “until heaven and earth pass away” (Matt 5:18). So too, I find similar uses in English usage as early as the 14th century (Chaucer). Shakespeare used the verb thus. It is interesting...
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