Category Archives: Death

RANDY NEWMAN: REMEMBERING OUR FRIEND

Some of you know that we were in Boston last month to celebrate the graduation of our youngest son from Harvard Law School. As is our habit, we had dinner one night in the North End at one of their many, terrific Italian restaurants. As we were seated, my wife received a note that Randy had died. Overcome with grief I excused myself, went outside, and cried.

Doreen first met Randy nearly forty years ago. She and Randy worked together at Towson State University in the Baltimore, MD area. Because of Randy’s leadership in wanting to share the gospel, their small Cru staff team (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) of three did more evangelism than schools that had many more Cru staff.

Randy and Pam recently moved to Austin. After leaving Cru, Randy transitioned to ministering through the C.S. Lewis Institute. We started meeting for fellowship and sharing a few, or more than a few, laughs. During one of our coffee shop conversations, a twenty-something guy introduced himself. He was disillusioned with the American church and so stopped going. It was wonderful to tag-team with Randy. Both of us have had our own concerns with the church. 

From Boston we flew to England. In the most unlikely of places, we heard about Randy. 

We attended a classic Anglican service (see picture) in the English countryside of Taynton which is part of the Cotswolds. After the service, we spent some time with the vicar who gave a wonderful message and shared his own concerns about the Anglican church. Tom studied at the evangelical school, Oak Hill College in London. I don’t remember what spawned his comment, but he told us that one of his favorite books in seminary was Randy’s Questioning Evangelism! That was a wonderful mercy of God and a great encouragement. 

Randy was rightly known as funny, clever at asking questions, but I would like to add, a great listener. Here is Randy interviewing me on my latest book. You will find his trademark humor and ability to ask great questions, but authors appreciate someone like Randy who was an active listener:

https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/resources/questions-that-matter-podcast-dave-moore-discipleship-through-the-study-of-history/.

TIM KELLER IS HOME WITH JESUS

My Interview with Tim Keller, Endorsing My Favorite Keller Book, and Reflections on His Life…

I was hesitant to interview Tim Keller, but not for the reasons you may think. I was slated to interview him on his book about trusting God with suffering. I have read many books on the subject, so I was a bit skeptical that any fresh angles could be articulated.

I was wrong, and so very glad to do the interview which you can find here:

Tim Keller on Suffering

It was also a privilege to blurb what is perhaps my favorite Keller book:

https://timothykeller.com/books/making-sense-of-god

Keller had his critics, and some of that criticism seems well-founded. However, there are many things we can learn from his example.

Many times, God uses the most unlikely people. Keller’s awkwardness socially would not have made one think he was destined to the ministry we now know him for. By the way, Keller got a C in his seminary preaching class, not an encouraging sign that he would amount to much as a preacher.

Some other things we can learn from Keller’s life:

*Mentors are hugely influential. Keller had several, but Edmund Clowney was one of the most formative. Clowney’s kindness, learning, and commitment to Keller reminds me of the role Ambrose played for Augustine.

*Keller’s ability to synthesize material, commitment to listen well to others, free people up to use their own gifts, but most of all, his humility, are things God has honored.

*There is no Tim Keller as we know him today without Kathy Keller. If you have a spouse who is a partner in ministry (I am graced by God to say that I do), then thank God for that blessing. If you are single and looking for a spouse, be diligent to find someone who shares the vision God has laid on your heart.

*If I were asked to list a couple of specifics that make a minister used of God, I would list true piety, humility, ability to keep loyal friends over the long haul, and courage. For the latter, Keller had a powerful model in a pastor who preceded him. He is a long-forgotten name, but you will be inspired by getting to know William E. Hill Jr. Many obscure figures had a big impact on Keller.

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING

Reader beware! Didion is a great writer, but also a haunting one. 

Here she reflects on the death of her husband. She also writes about the brutal circumstances of her only child’s ailments which eventually kill her shortly after Didion’s husband.

Didion does not believe God is in control. As she writes, “The eye is not on the sparrow.”

So be careful if you choose to read this seductive and sad book. Discerning readers will be enriched, but one must be ready to face the utter hopelessness of one who does not believe there is anything/anyone beyond this world.

HONEST, HEART-WARMING, AND HOPEFUL

About seven years ago, I interviewed Todd on his recently released book, Rejoicing in Lament. It is a terrific book on a topic, namely lament, that is not well understood by us Americans.

When I saw that Todd’s new book on “embracing our mortality” was coming out, I knew it would be worth reading. Reading actually sounds like too tepid a word for engaging with The End of the Christian Life. Perhaps taking inventory of one’s life or pondering what really matters is better.

I won’t offer a long review, but a few things should be highlighted.

Todd is an honest, yet hopeful man. He does not curb the hard edges of living in mortal bodies. And Todd has a more acute sense of what this means since he has lived for many years with a terminal cancer diagnosis.

The writing is lucid and engaging. As the good theologian that he is, the integration of various fields of study while ever keeping the Scriptures central is a steady note throughout this entire book.

Thoughtful discussion questions are provided at the end of each chapter. These are not your typical boiler plate, don’t have to think about it much, kinds of questions.

Highly recommended!

DON’T TALK ABOUT DEATH!

“When I came to Yale, I had lunch with a senior prof. He suddenly put down his fork, looked at me bewildered & said: ‘The strangest thing about Yale is that no one here talks about the fact that they’ll die.’ 3 weeks later he died. That comment still runs on repeat in my head.”

Jennifer Banks, Sr. Editor at Yale University Press

Tweet, Oct. 5, 2020

IS DYING AN ART?

Dugdale brings both her medical background as a doctor and her training in ethics to bear in this wonderful book.

The title may seem a bit odd. How is dying an art? That is a big question and one the book addresses in helpful and poignant detail. Suffice it to say, you will become convinced that there are practices that go way back in history to help us wisely navigate the ravages of death…for our loved ones and ourselves!

One of the biggest helps I found in this book was the counsel about the misuse and overuse of hospitals. Dugdale knows this terrain very well and I found myself realigning some of my thinking accordingly.

Dugdale writes as a Christian. Her comments about the resurrection are insightful and much appreciated. My only disappointment is that the author never addressed the truths found in Heb. 2:14,15: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

A beautiful and practical book…two words that I don’t juxtapose very often!