by Jeff Cunningham
Over the holiday, actor Ron Glass passed away at the age of 71. He’s well-known among Browncoats and geeks as Shepherd Derrial Book from Firefly and Serenity, and a long career in television stretching from Barney Miller to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Those who were fortunate enough to work with him and to know him, however, knew him for his contagious laugh and uncommon kindness. I was fortunate enough to meet the man at a small Orlando comic and fandom convention about ten years ago. It was my first time at a con of any kind, much less approaching anyone for an autograph. Mr. Glass immediately made my companions and I feel right at home, and treated everyone like they were his own grandkids. As best as I or anyone can recall, no one has ever heard or known him to have said a cross, unkind or critical word to anyone, deserving or no.
It’s these kinds of people, it seems, that we miss the most when they pass on, gentle souls who soften the tone in any room, and remind us of times in our lives when we were all a little better-behaved, and make us wonder if maybe we shouldn’t follow their example. Indeed, one of his most famous roles was that of a sort of pseudo-Christian minister, providing spiritual guidance– and, at times, gentle reproof– to fellow travelers aboard Serenity, and serving as the voice of compassion and faith in the show’s narrative.
Now, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Ron Glass and Derrial Book were two separate, different individuals. At the same time, however, the character of Book was heavily influenced by Glass’ own Buddhist faith and outlook on spirituality. As a practicing Christian, in fact, I feel no hesitation in saying that he taught me a deep, profound truth about belief– one that everyone, believer or not, stands to benefit greatly from. At Mr. Glass’ passing, I felt it would be appropriate to say a few words about that lesson, because I feel that following someone’s example and remembering the lessons they taught us is the best way we can honor them after they leave us. Continue Reading