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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 »

Death With Aesthetics

We don’t speak plainly in public discourse anymore. Rather, we equivocate and deploy euphemisms to sanitize our debates. Take the passing of Brittany Maynard by her own hand, which the media has repeatedly characterized as an act of “dignity.” To be sure, Maynard died with human dignity—but not because she committed suicide. Human dignity is intrinsic. Indeed, to accept the premise of suicide as death with dignity says—or at least strongly implies—that patients who expire naturally die with indignity. Continue Reading »

Of Michael Landon and Brittany Maynard

Michael Landon, the hugely popular television star of BonanzaLittle House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven, died in 1991 at age fifty-four. Landon’s last act—if you will—was widely hailed as his best: He publicly announced his diagnosis with terminal pancreatic cancer, appeared on the Tonight Show to openly discuss his pending death with Johnny Carson (almost unprecedented back then), and gave several interviews announcing his determination to hang on until the end. He told Life, “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.” Continue Reading »

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