Saving Willy Loman

The focus on the increase in death rates for white Americans between ages 45-54 in the media obscures equally troubling results in Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife . . . . Continue Reading »

In Praise of Wakes

Going to a wake is always unpleasant. For one thing the departed, once embalmed, always looks like a stranger. Thus, the corkboard display of photos of the deceased as a baby, and as a teen, can only emphasize that he is now utterly a fossil. To make things worse, a wake usually comes in one of two . . . . Continue Reading »

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 »