Speaking of the Dead: When We All Fall Down

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From a review of the book by David Mills, former editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things:

“Though the demographers and economists fret, there is one advantage of an aging population, especially one in which narcissistic baby boomers are finally growing old: people begin to think more deeply about death, and therefore, in many cases, about God and the other ultimate things, like the meaning and end of our lives. The fact that I’m going to die can force me to reflect on the fact that we all die, and ask what this means, because it can mean nothing or everything.

Others, of course, refuse to think about death at all, and turn up the music, fill up the social calendar, keep talking, to keep themselves from noticing that they are going to die. A few, the intellectually adept in particular, find ways to discuss death as an idea and a subject for analysis, also to keep themselves from noticing that they are going to die, or to convince themselves their dying won’t (or at least shouldn’t) affect them.

My friend Russ Saltzman, a Lutheran pastor, seems never to have tried to distract himself and his people in either way. It’s a point in his favor, a very big point. Speaking of the Dead combines his own reflections on death with insights gathered in preaching about particular deaths, and the sermons themselves, and a few short essays.

It is a moving book, but one that kept me off-balance as I read. Russ tells us, and his people, the Gospel, but it is the Gospel as we experience it in this life, which doesn’t magically solve all the problems we suffer living in the world we live in. I will be thinking about this book a long time.”

Paper, 6 x 9 inches, 204 pp., $15.00 + postage