My last two books have addressed consecutively the topics of hell and death, so I guess I’m mired in my blue period. I wouldn’t say I’m totally depressed, but my next project may be a history of the Chicago Cubs.
The idea of writing a book on death occurred to me while watching Tom Brokaw’s television special on the Baby Boomers. Here was the largest generation in American history, and most of them seemed terrified of aging. They were trying exercise, diets, pills, injections—anything that might allow them to look and feel younger for a little while longer. But of course, someday they will face the cold hard truth of their mortality. Was there a resource for them?
My research uncovered little that could speak honestly—and with hope—into their deepest need. Most books and blog posts on death are head over heels in denial. They try to persuade us that death is natural, a normal part of the circle of life, and that it really isn’t as awful as the dying person thinks. But do people really talk this way to their friends who are dying? “This stinks for you, but your passing is a necessary step in our cosmic ecosystem. Think of the young person who can now take your job and feed his family. See, it’s all good.”
The Last Enemy is different from other books on death because it speaks directly to the person who is dying (or a young person who is rightly troubled by her mortality). It is honest—the first half of the book lays out the overwhelming devastation of death. Death is the unbeatable enemy that utterly destroys everything in its path. And one day it will take direct aim at us.
The Last Enemy brims with hope. We can’t beat death, but we know someone who has. The second half of the book explains how Jesus has defeated our enemy and how we may join his victory. So while we are right to fear death (Augustine said that the person who isn’t afraid of death has stopped thinking), we need not cower before it. We may face our impending doom with the confidence that only comes from placing our weight on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Along the way The Last Enemy also uncovers the mystery of heaven. What will heaven be like? What will we do there? And what is our ultimate home? I’ve covered similar ground in Heaven Is a Place on Earth, but here I devote an entire chapter to the consummation. God will not only redeem his creation, but in some spectacular ways he will consummate it. The end will far surpass the beginning. I tell you how.
So that’s the pitch. Future posts will explain a few of the things I learned while researching The Last Enemy. For now I commend it to anyone who is bothered by death or knows someone who is. The book is available on amazon or for a discount at the publisher’s website.