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"Dying is the most general human event, something we all have to do. But do we do it well? Is our own death more than an unavoidable fate that we simply wish would not be? Can it somehow become an act of fulfillment, perhaps more human than any other human act?"--Henri Nouwen
All of us face the prospect of death--if not this day, then one day. But most of us would rather defer that thought indefinitely. Earlier generations of Christians studied classic ars moriendi--manuals on the art of dying--to help them face and embrace mortality. They learned from these books something our own generation is in danger of forgetting: that the manner in which one dies very much depends on the manner in which one has lived.
Kerry Walters offers a new take on an old theme, exploring the connection between living and dying well by recounting the stories of nine exemplary men and women of our time and the particular virtues they embodied.
From Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Sister Thea Bowman, Etty Hillesum, Civil Rights martyr Jonathan Daniels, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John Paul II, and Caryll Houselander, we learn lessons about love, trust, gratitude, patience, courage, and hospitality. These lessons teach us something about how to die. But mostly they show us what it means to truly live.
Kerry Walters, and Episcopal deacond and peace activist, s a professor of philosophy and peace and justice studies at Gettysburg College. An award-winning author and speaker, his many books include Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum, 2010) Practicing Presence: The Spirituality of Caring in Everyday Life (Sheed & Ward, 2001).