Love and Death: My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow

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"On a February day in 2008, Forrest Church sent a letter to the members of his congregation, informing them that he had terminal cancer; his life would now be measured in months, not years. In that remarkable letter, he wrote: "In more than one respect, I feel very lucky." He went on to promise that he would sum up his thoughts on the topics that had been so pervasive in his work - love and death - in a final book." Church has been justly celebrated as a writer of American history, but his works of spiritual guidance have been especially valued
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Love & Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow

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Overview

"On a February day in 2008, Forrest Church sent a letter to the members of his congregation, informing them that he had terminal cancer; his life would now be measured in months, not years. In that remarkable letter, he wrote: "In more than one respect, I feel very lucky." He went on to promise that he would sum up his thoughts on the topics that had been so pervasive in his work - love and death - in a final book." Church has been justly celebrated as a writer of American history, but his works of spiritual guidance have been especially valued for their insight and inspiration. As a minister, Church defined religion as "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die." The goal of life, he tells us "is to live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for." This last book in his impressive oeuvre is imbued with ideas and exemplars for achieving that goal. The stories he offers - drawn from his own experiences and from the lives of his friends, family, and parishioners - are both engrossing and enlightening. Forrest Church's final work may be his most lasting gift to his readers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
I read Love and Death as soon as it came out. The greatest gift I could give every one of you is to just tell you to go read this book.—President Bill Clinton

"Forrest Church is one of our great prophetic intellectuals and compassionate voices." —Cornel West, author of Race Matters

"Forrest Church, a deeply spiritual but always practical visionary, is a minister to us all with this moving and instructive book on the lessons of life and death."—Tom Brokaw

"Forrest Church blesses us with his eloquence, his faith, and, mostly, his love."—Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

"In the midst of an extremity for which there is no euphemism—the prospect of his own imminent death—Forrest Church has written a book that defies the usual adjectives. It is poignant, moving, candid, and eloquent."—James Atlas, author of My Life in the Middle Ages

"This beautiful book by a matchless preacher, poet, and author is Forrest Church in his finest hour."—Senator George McGovern

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072936
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 9/17/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

FORREST CHURCH is currently serving his thirtieth year as minister of All Souls Church in Manhattan. He earned his doctorate in church history at Harvard and has written or edited twenty-two books, including The Separation of Church and State. He lives in New York.

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2008

    POIGNANT INSPIRATION

    Forrest has been my minister since 1983. Always a powerful, inspirational orator, Forrest has changed many, many lives. 'Love and Death' is particularly poignant considering Forrest's personal circumstances. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    The Sage of Manhattan

    I¿m not interested in books about religion but this is truly a work of great philosophy, successfully tackling the age old questions of Why are we here? What do we do? And What happens when we die. A wise and witty must read for the curious life traveler.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2008

    The Meaning of Life

    If you are a person who reads the obituaries then this book is for you! And not because you have a morbid fascination with death, but most likely as a result of your interest in life. How long did they live? What did they accomplish? How did it end? Was it too soon? This book is about living, or as Rev. Church says, 'To live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for.' Having Church as a spiritual guide is not unlike going on field trip with Mark Twain, with observations such as 'A proportional relationship exists between the fear of death and the fear of life' seamlessly sharing space with his great-grandfather's three major food groups 'tobacco, baked beans and whiskey'. When people tell him proudly that they don't believe in God, he likes to ask them to tell him a little about the God they don't believe in, for he probably doesn't believe in him either. Church has a deft touch whether he's talking about Princess Diana, civilization versus anarchy, sad movies, or Plato. Longtime leading light in the world of Unitarian Universalism, Rev. Church has picked up his pen to tackle many subjects including the Founding Fathers, the Jefferson Bible, freedom from fear, and liberalism versus fundamentalism, but this journey of the mind, body and soul proves his best and most provocative. Though Church of course says it better: 'Life is filled with danger. That's just the way it is. Finally, the Titanic always hits the iceberg. Hence this simple, if imprudent, bit of advice: Before it does, pick up the phone. Pick up the gauntlet. Do whatever it takes. Take a few chances. Dare to live before you die.' And I might add, Dare to read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2011

    A very great book from a very great man

    As Forrest was writing this book, he and I carried on an extended e-mail conversation that lasted from 2008 until a few weeks before his death. We both were dealing with issues of chronic and serious illness, and as we chatted back and forth, his humanity as well as his sense of lively questioning and probing came through. We challenged each other both in terms of faith and in terms of the unknown - as well as in the day-to-day reality of the lives we were leading. He knew he was dying, but he faced it with a certain kind of... well, relish isn't quite the word I would use, but maybe the idea of intellectual curiosity might be a little closer. He wondered at the world and he wondered at the inner lives of individuals - and gave more comfort and understanding than anyone I have ever known. I never met Forrest in person, but somehow, that is OK. It might have been a disappointment - or perhaps better - I don't know. I just knew him as a tremendous, thoughtful man who worked honestly and sincerely to make the world a better place. This book is an outgrowth of all his years of ministry and effort with those goals in sight. I miss him terribly, and the world is a lesser place without him. It is a difficult thing to try to live to a legacy such as his - but perhaps in making our own legacies, and in living our own lives, we can fulfill our truths, and in our own way accomplish that which enlivens the world in a way in which Forrest would be proud. Love you, Forrest. Thank you for being there. I hope you have found what you were looking for.

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