As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning Paperback – Apr 1 2003
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Every night as we lay down to sleep we practice a form of death, according to Richard Neuhaus in As I Lay Dying. The rhythm of life and death is indeed as natural as the rhythm of waking and sleeping. But few of us know it as literally as does Neuhaus, who found himself drifting in and out of consciousness after a tumor ruptured his intestines and the subsequent botched surgery caused internal hemorrhaging. One night he was visited by two beings, which he calls angels, who assured him that "Everything is ready now." Dramatic as all this sounds, As I Lay Dying is not so much Neuhaus's near-death-experience tale as it is a Christian discussion of death from the vantage point of a Catholic priest who heard death knocking at his door.
This is not a feel-good book about the white light and smiling family members at the end of the tunnel. Relying on Scripture, Catholic doctrine, and the words of poets and famous writers, Neuhaus ponders questions such as: Can the soul live on, separate from the body? Is it possible to have death with dignity? How is it that we can be propelled into a tailspin of grief over one death, but be indifferent to the ethnic slaughter of millions in central Africa? Is there really life after death? Christians who are close to death, whether it be their own or that of a loved one, may find this a useful companion, if only for Neuhaus's willingness to shed light on our darkest fears while being brave enough to not know all the answers. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
"I almost died." With those three words that form the theme of his latest work, Neuhaus, a Catholic priest and former Lutheran pastor, recalls his brush with death and his thoughts as he was passing through it. Readers in search of sure answers and sweet comfort about the fate that awaits every human being may not be interested in this series of reflections. But those willing to join Neuhaus in pondering the complexities of mortality and the Christian promise of eternal life will emerge all the richer from his sojourn into mystery. Seven years ago, Neuhaus nearly died when a tumor ruptured in his intestines, wreaking havoc on his body and plunging him to the brink of death. As he lay dying in an intensive-care unit, he became keenly aware of his condition, particularly the possibility of his soul separating from his body, and of the reactions of those closest to him. His musings, mercifully free of minutiae from his medical chart, are wholly honest and hardly the stuff of those death-and-dying books that seek to remove all fear from every person's passage out of this world. But they also offer some succor to people of faith. For example, in analyzing his own "near-death experience," in which two seemingly heavenly beings inform him that "everything is ready now," Neuhaus lifts the veil ever so slightly into the life beyond. His report is worth examining by all who have considered their own death or faced that of another.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
--Someone once said, 'death is an interesting statistic, it's one out of one'. We will all face death and as a result our awareness of death can be both existentially shocking as well as an intense motivator for pursuing ultimate reality and religious truth. Neuhaus does a great job of guiding the reader to this realization.
--Neuhaus writes a book, which is dramatically different from books like 'Embraced by the Light'. It is a book not about warm and subjective feelings, but it is about how we face the difficulty of dieing. How do people who believe very different things deal with death and react to dieing? Where can we find comfort? What is true about the after-life? These are complex questions requiring honest answers. Neuhaus is honest, but I wish he had been more specific regarding how he answers these questions.
--I do appreciate his non-sentimental writing and his willingness to write a book as personal as this one. There's no question this book ends up being inspirational, however, I'm still not sure on exactly what Neuhaus prescribes for the problem of the human condition. Is it religion, relationship, forgiveness, faith? Since he is a Catholic his religious convictions do come through, but if I had my way, I wish he was a bit more theological in his conclusions.
But in this book, he encounters a different foe -- Death. And he came away a man with a greater understanding of what it is to live and what it is to die -- or nearly die. His doctors had apparently missed a cancerous tumor in his colon -- and he nearly missed living through the experience of emergency surgery -- two of them for the spleen was nicked and internal bleeding required a second surgery on top of the first. All of this meant a *long* recovery and he recounts it with clarity as well as humor.
Having been through a similar (but not so drastic) experience of recovering from major surgery and being hooked up to lots of bleeping and pulsating machines for lengthy periods -- I very much identified with his narrative. He gets it right.
The book is only about 170 pages or so and can be read in a sitting or two. The author rises to crystalline prose at times and I found it to be not only an instructive but enjoyable read. He is not a proponent of the 'near death' experiences exploited by TV shows etc. --- but reveals his own experience with clarity and truth, and believablity.
You'll come away from reading this book with thankfulness for the life you have -- and a determination to live it more fully. That is, I think, the job of a Gospel messenger -- and while this is not a 'devotional' book in that sense -- he lays out very squarely what this experience meant to him, and what clear thinking about that "inevitable event" that happens to us all, ought to mean to us.
When Neuhaus turns his incisive intellect and fine writing style to any subject , serious readers will not be disappointed for what is difficult is made plain with insight and wit.
Most recent customer reviews
Neuhaus is the ideological equivalent of a Pat Buckhanan, or a Jesse Helms.
It's unfortunate that such personages attain perpetually sponsored platforms to make comfortable... Read more
This little book is a superb meditation on the mysteries of death (and life) for a Christian. With characteristic clarity, Neuhaus offers a series of ruminations on his own... Read morePublished on July 8 2002 by Tom Dickinson