Theology's Umpire

Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures by paul griffiths baylor, 408 pages, $69.95 T here is much of surprising beauty in Paul Griffiths’s theological “speculations” about last things: death, final judgment, heaven, and hell. He affirms the authority of Catholic doctrine on these . . . . Continue Reading »

RSVP “No” to Suicide Party

Back in 1991, I received an invitation to a party. My elderly friend Frances wanted to die. Her plan, she said, was to hold a life celebration with her closest friends: We would hold her hand, kiss her cheek, and tell her how much she meant to us—as she expressed her love for us. Then she would . . . . Continue Reading »

Imperfect Goodbyes and the Hope of Resurrection

I was on the phone with my mother the moment when my grandmother died. The two of them, along with my father, were together in the living room of the house where I grew up in Arkansas. My grandmother, having fallen and broken her hip a few weeks earlier, had been brought home, and for several days . . . . Continue Reading »

Visiting Leonard

Leonard was one of those pastoral visits pastors avoid.He was a guy who just got lost in the life of the congregation. He got mad at a pastor back in the mid-1950s and stopped attending worship. He came on and off—mostly off—during successive pastorates thereafter, but never with any regularity. . . . . Continue Reading »

A Throne in the Grave

Last Sunday, Western Christians celebrated Easter, and in a few days Eastern churches will observe Pascha. Over the course of eight days, most of the world’s two billion Christians will have sung of Jesus’s resurrection, listened again as the glad apostles see their Lord, and heard bold talk of new life and new creation. Continue Reading »

Germanwings and Evil

In the days since audio was extracted from the black box recorder of crashed Germanwings flight 4U9525 suggesting that copilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately downed the plane, investigators and journalists have rushed to find an explanation for his actions. Continue Reading »

No Fighting God

Some months after my son-in-law, Rob Susil, died, a longtime friend asked me, in a gentle but point-blank way, “Are you still fighting God?” The only honest response was, “Yes.” At which my friend said, simply, “You’re not going to win, you know . . .” Continue Reading »

Reaper at Bay

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End ?by atul gawande? metropolitan, 304 pages, $26 Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is an eminently useful book. Gawande, a surgeon and a staff writer for the New Yorker, is anything but clinical. With a . . . . Continue Reading »