Archives For Death

 

Facing Death with Grace and Courage

A Brief Review of 

Walking Home Together:
Spiritual Guidance & Practical Advice for the End of Life

Michael Mercer

Paperback: 23rd Publications, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   

Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith

Facing our own death, or that of a loved one, can stir up much anxiety in us. When we inevitably must take this journey, it is wonderful to have a friend who knows what to expect and can walk this journey with us. Michael Mercer, a hospice chaplain here in Indianapolis, has walked this road with many people, and captures much of his own wisdom about this journey in the new book Walking Home Together.
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Sensing Death So Close at Hand

A Review of

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye
Kara Tippetts

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2016
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Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy

 

When I first heard about Kara Tippetts, I was sitting in a circle of moms, talking and sipping hot tea while our kids were gleefully wreaking havoc on the playroom downstairs.

“Hey! Have you all heard about that woman in Colorado who is dying of cancer and blogging through it? This woman is amazing. You have to check out her blog, it’s called Mundane Faithfulness. But I’m warning you, you’ll definitely shed some tears….”

While the rest of the moms continued talking, I turned my attention to a toddler who had found an abandoned pile of goldfish crackers on the table.  As I watched him happily enjoying some other kid’s snack bounty, I tried to think about something, anything, other than that dying momma of 4 young children. Any parent knows it doesn’t take long before our imagination gets the best of us and suddenly WE’RE dying of cancer and how-in-the-world-are-our-kids-going-to-make-it-without-us and–oh no – we need to make an appointment with our lawyer to make sure our will is up-to-date.

It was too early in the morning for that kind of heartache.

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Joy, Even in Death

 
A Review of 
 

Joy in the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death
Steve and Sharol Hayner

Hardback: IVP Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Kevin Wildman
 
 
I have become convinced over the past few year that one of the biggest idols in the American culture is life. Often it seems that people are willing to go to extremes to get one more day with a loved one, often sacrificing quality of life for quantity of days. In their magnificent work, Joy in the Journey, Steve and Sharol Hayner help the reader to realize that life is not an idol. In fact Steve writes, “But life is about a lot more than physical health. It is measured by a lot more than medical tests and vital signs.” (62). As simple as it seems, this is a lesson that I think is desperately needed for today.

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Come Listen. Come Learn.

 
A Review of 

A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter With Love
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2015
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Reviewed by Brandon Waite

 

My first night as an on-call chaplain, I came to know how little I know.

I’m a seminary grad, so it’s not as if I know nothing about matters of ultimate concern. I can speak of pain and suffering, death and dying, theodicy and providence as ancillary pieces of the grander theological project. I can define the terms and review the books. I can document sources and fill up pages, if that’s what it takes to make the grade.

But as my body lay taught and shivering under the cheap hospital blankets my first night in the chaplains’ on-call room—praying for a night of silence and peace—I realized how little those words have to do with the work of this place. When I of speak of death and dying here, amidst the acrid mix of sanitized countertops overfull bedpans, I speak in abstraction and jargon, the foreign tongue of a distant land.
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Love and Death

Cave Art: Poems

Charles Hughes

Paperback: Wiseblood, 2014
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Review by Michial Farmer

 

In the title poem of Cave Art, Charles Hughes’s excellent first collection, he ruminates on the ancient paintings in Lascaux, miraculous surviving the millennia:

 

Inside the caves,

The painters left, in vain, what more they saw—

Stark, dazzling life that tugged them in and in

And still survives as art and evidence.

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Facing Death Without God.

A Christian’s Response to

Mortality

Christopher Hitchens

Hardback: Twelve, 2012.
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An Essay by Alex Dye

 

“Once more into the fray, into the last good fight I’ll ever know, live and die on this day, live and die on this day.”
-John Ottway from The Grey

 

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV)

 

Editor’s Note: Page references are to Mortality unless otherwise noted.

 

Christopher Hitchens never met a cow so sacred that he would not gleefully serve it medium-rare with a glass of red wine (or more-likely scotch), if the mood struck just right.  As a journalist, he endeavored to explore, unravel, and critique the largely unchallenged parts of society.  In doing so, has taken on Christianity and religion as a whole, the Pope, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and even dear Mother Theresa in his short work Missionary Position:  Mother Theresa in Theory and in Practice.  For some, he has been on the radar for quite some time as an author, speaker, and avid spokesman for atheists.  For others, his name has only recently cropped up with the much hailed release of his series of essays entitled Arguably and his posthumously released memoir on the process of dying from cancer, Mortality.  It is the latter that I would like analyze and respond to in this article.

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Bernd Heinrich - Life EveralstingThe Death of One Organism Gives Life to Legions of Others

A Feature Review of

Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death

Bernd Heinrich

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
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Reviewed by Marilyn Matevia.

Once upon a time – or two – I may or may not have assisted in scattering the ashes of a dear, deceased friend in an area, or perhaps areas, where it may or may not have been illegal to do so.  And, hypothetically speaking, I may (or may not) have known we were in violation of said regulatory codes at the time.  But the fact of my alleged participation in this allegedly illegal activity is not the point.  More interesting is the law or code itself: why should it be against the law to scatter human cremains in certain remote public areas?  “Ashes” (which are not particularly ashy; cremains have the consistency of rough sand or very small bits of gravel) are the end result of incinerating a body at temperatures around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, until all that remains are solid bone fragments, which are then pulverized.  They are essentially sterile, and they present neither a biohazard nor an environmental hazard (although the cremation process itself is not environmentally friendly).  Legal codes regulating the disposal of human bodies – particularly cremated ones – likely have a great deal more to do with honoring cultural traditions and observing taboos than with securing public safety.

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Fred CraddockTo Be a Part of Dying

A Feature Review of

Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death

Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith and Joy V. Goldsmith

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2012.
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Reviewed by Gary Wake.

Jesus died. He knew he would die and he told his disciples he would die. Peter, in particular, didn’t want to hear it. On the evening before Jesus died his followers refused to believe it and they couldn’t even stay awake to comfort him while he prayed. Like the early disciples, Christ’s disciples today do not seem to want to deal with dying. The church needs help in living and dying as Christ lived and died. Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith and Joy V. Goldsmith wrote Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death to help the church in the work of following Christ even when members of the church, or those they love, are dying.

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e.e. cummings - when god lets my body beA poem from the collection:

100 Selected Poems

:
e.e. cummings
Paperback: Grove Press, 1994.
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Lazarus Come Forth - John DearBe Converted.

A Review of

Lazarus, Come Forth:

How Jesus Confronts the Culture of Death and Invites us into the New Life of Peace.

John Dear, S.J.

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2011.
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Reviewed by Stephen Taylor.

The Rev. John Dear is no newcomer to the world of peace and justice.  Many times in his life he has been arrested, mistreated, made fun of, and generally had a hard time because he does take a personal stand, based on faith in Jesus Christ, against what in this fine book he calls the culture of death.

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