According to author Matthew McCullough, we’re a culture in denial of death. We’ve removed death from our doorstep. People now die in hospitals rather than at home. We see ourselves as indispensable. And we avoid talking about the subject of death.
McCullough traces the origin of death from the Garden of Eden where the serpent taunts Eve: “You will not surely die (if you eat the fruit of the forbidden tree).” He lied. She ate, and so we all die. But that story leads to the New Testament story of Christ, who died so that we may have life eternal. “Death is a punishment perfectly fitted to the offense,” McCullough writes. But the gospel redeems and destroys death by offering life eternal.
We need to recognize foreshadows of death in the world around us. Like Ecclesiastes reads, everything has a season—work, pleasure, wealth. Ecclesiastes sets the scene for Jesus: “It sets the context in which the resurrection of Jesus makes sense. It prepares us to see why everything is vain if Jesus is not alive.
If we recognize the shadow of death around us, we appreciate the promise of a deathless world. We live in a stage of impermanence. In time everything changes, nothing lasts—meals, books, shows. All temporary. Time devours. But that need not spoil our appreciation of the good things of life. The best is yet to come.
McCullough writes: “Embracing death-awareness is how we strip away a heart-breaking attachment to the things of this world.” It’s just like love. Some might say that it’s better not to love because your heart may be broken. We miss out so much with such an attitude.
Consider everything in this world as an appetizer and see problems as momentary in light of eternity. That puts death in perspective.
The book ends with an index and a scripture index. I appreciated the author’s perspective. I keep putting off things I could do to better prepare for death because I really don’t want to think about it. But McCullough is right. The death rate is 100 percent, so we better be ready. A thoughtful read.