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Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Richard Lischer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 2 2013

This poignant love story of a father for his son is at once funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful. In it a young man teaches his entire family “a new way to die” with wit, candor, and, always, remarkable grace. This emotionally riveting account probes the heart without sentimentality or self-pity.

As the book opens, Richard Lischer’s son, Adam, calls to tell his father, a professor of divinity at Duke University, that his cancer has returned. Adam is a smart, charismatic young man with a promising law career, and an unlikely candidate for tragedy. That his young wife is pregnant with their first child makes the disease’s return all the more devastating. Despite the crushing magnitude of his diagnosis and the cruel course of the illness, Adam’s growing weakness evokes in him an unexpected strength. 
This is the story of one last summer and the young man who lived it as honestly and faithfully as possible. We meet Adam in many phases of his growing up, but always through the narrow lens of his undying hope, when in the final season of his life he becomes his family’s (and his father’s) spiritual leader. Honest in its every dimension, Stations of the Heart is an unforgettable book about life and death and the terrible blessing of saying good-bye.  


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Review

Praise for Richard Lischer’s Stations of the Heart

“Stations of the Heart is a book after my own heart, profound, gorgeous, deeply spiritual and human, beautifully written, heartbreaking, but also, because of the writer's wisdom and spirit, triumphant."—Anne Lamott 

“Quite extraordinary. . . Lischer’s only son, Adam, died of rapidly metastasizing melanoma in 2005. He was 33. . . He said he’d had a charmed life, and part of what is impressive about his questioning father’s chastely worded, clear-eyed account is that we come to appreciate that. An immensely positive and congenial person, Adam used his time well, completing conversion to Catholicism and using daily prayer rituals with his wife to bless his child in the womb.”—Ray Olson, Booklist
 
“A fond view of a father-son relationship and a loving tribute from a minister to a son who chose a different spiritual path in his life and to his death.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“In this tender, searching, resigned memoir and tribute to [his son] Adam, Lischer relives the final three-month journey that he, his wife, and [Adam’s wife] traveled with Adam, recalling with grace and humor memories of Adam in his elementary school days, his college days, and his quest to change the world around as a modern-day Atticus Finch”—Publishers Weekly

“Stations of the Heart deserves a place alongside these classics [John Gunther’s inspirational Death Be Not Proud and Nicholas Wolterstorff’s anguished Lament for a Son] for many reasons.   It is elegant without excess, personal without self-absorption, profoundly emotional without sentimentality. . . . It looks beyond the one man’s death to the death we all will face.  It raises religious and philosophical questions without offering pat answers.”—LaVonne Neff, Christian Century
 
“An inspirational memoir . . . Lischer is a fine writer—self-aware, humorous and unstinting in describing the outrage of a son dying before his father.”—Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star
 
"By the story’s close, you'll have laughed, prayed, shaken your fist at the sky, and wept along with the author and his family. Lyrical, wise, and full of warmth, Stations of the Heart accomplishes what only the best memoirs can: it bears witness to the unimaginable and gives voice to the inarticulable.”—David McGlynn, author of A Door in the Ocean

 
"As he grieved over the loss of his son, Richard Lischer gradually discovered that he had been given a new role — as the interpreter of his own son’s death. In this tender and loving book, Lischer does indeed become an interpreter, not only of his son’s death but also of the fragile and beautiful relationships that make life both a peril and a gift for us all. Lischer is a faithful witness whose truthful and searing testimony evokes memory, provokes tears, and finally points powerfully toward hope."
—Thomas G. Long, author of What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith

About the Author

RICHARD LISCHER holds degrees from Washington University and Concordia Seminary, and a PhD in theology from the University of London. He served in two parishes before joining the faculty of Duke Divinity School, where he has taught for more than thirty years. He is the author of many books, including Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery. He and his wife live in Orange County, North Carolina.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Sadness but great strenth. Sept. 8 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful book and would read it again. I am an avid book reader and this certainly filled my need.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for those who dare to care May 13 2013
By G. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We all handle grief differently. Some repress it, some exploit it, only the brave dare to feel it and let it teach them new truth about what it means to be a human being. This book, written by a clergyman, about the death of his 33 year old son, is the brave story of a family that faced death with compassion, sincerity, aching pain and triumphant faith and transformation. Having been through this kind of grief myself, and virtually at the same time as the Lischers, I lived it all over again. Often I had to put the book down until I could dare to face it again.

This is a book for people of faith, but it is for people of a particular kind of faith. This will hardly satisfy the dogmatic. It is not out to paste band aids over the wounds of fear and loss. It faces hard questions and learns to live with a faith that depends solely on holding hands in the center of darkness. I was deeply moved by this journey of 93 days while a young man comes to terms with mortality as well as the approaching birth of his first child. His practice of his faith, the daily visit he and his wife make to their church to receive the sacrament, his sense of humor and his determination to do whatever it took to hold off those last days until he could see his daughter and hold her in his arms - all witnessed by his parents and affirmed by them - is the story of a family that won far more than our admiration and respect. They showed me how much we all can learn from this - the final chapter we all must live. Beautifully written, candid, appropriately light-hearted at times yet honestly frank, we discover a new way to affirm there is life beyond death, a life far more deeply satisfying and real than we could have imagined.

This book goes on my shelf with a select few that have changed my life. It may be a while before I can pick it up again, but read it again I know I will.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indelible imprint May 7 2013
By mak3112 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't think I can do justice to the beauty of this searing memoir. Indeed, it feels selfish and cruel to call something so personal, beautiful. And yet, that is what this memoir is--an honest, heart-wrenching story of not only being a father, but being mortal. It's impact is indelible prayerto my struggling faith. Mercy, indeed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart breaking, wonderful book May 22 2013
By Kristen N. Linney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is the story of a beautiful, brave young man and how his father is trying to go on without him. It is as well written as Shakespeare but using the language of today. I sobbed. It gave me hope that I could survive such sorrow, but I so don't want to find out if I could. Barbara Linney
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to Become A Spiritual Classic April 30 2013
By Frank Honeycutt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rick Lischer spent six years writing this profoundly engaging book describing the last 95 days of his son's life. The loving care in phrasing shows on every page. Accessible, touching, truthfully agonizing, and grounded in the power of Christian community, "Stations of the Heart" will be read decades from now by those trying to make sense of suffering visited upon those who die too young. This is the best book I've read this year of any genre. Buy it for someone you know whose faith has been rattled by death. Buy it for anyone honestly searching for what it means to believe amidst illness and pain. Buy it for the unexpected beauty somehow distilled from a faithful family's accompaniment of a dying and cherished son.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death . . . and Resurrection Dec 10 2013
By Jean Rodenbough - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Little did I think 33 years ago when I chose a class with the new professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School that I would encounter him again through his writings, a workshop, and Convocation gatherings. Each time has been more than a lesson here and a lesson there. I discovered the core of ministry through the Word, however it may be delivered. Reading Stations of the Heart is indeed the Word about death as it comes uninvited to a son and thereby affects an entire family and a community as well. Richard Lischer has offered the reader the Eucharist as it occurs through what ordinary lives offer to the extraordinary love of family. And then to the community around that family. As one who reads widely and makes attempts at writing, I was immersed as well in the amazing gift and grasp of words to tell that story. I know that in the beginning was the Word, but now I know the power of words when delivered by one of the masters of Story. His beautiful and moving descriptions defy definition.
Lischer goes beyond telling of the tragic loss of a beautiful and loving son, because through his focus on family, finally to the baptism of that son's newborn after his death, we see at least a glimpse of the power of Resurrection. The life of that family will go on, generation after generation. The blessings of a eucharistic leitmotif tell of one generation that reaches to the past and to the future, through what can best be understood through the words "This is my body, given for you." I have no way to explain the impact of such a life-giving story, beautifully and honestly told, upon my reading, which throughout is a faithful expression of the deep faith that assails us when we least want it perhaps, and when we most seek it. This finally is not only his story, but the story of us all, however our own stories will be told.
Jean Rodenbough, author listed on Amazon
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