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Culture Books

Books on life and death


Books on life and death

Let’s Talk About Death over Dinner 

Michael Hebb

Back in 2013, Michael Hebb founded the organization Death Over Dinner to encourage people to engage in frank discussions about death while eating a tasty meal. This book expands on that idea, drawing from dinners he’s attended and others he’s heard about. The book’s chapter titles function as conversational prompts that probe feelings and memories about death. For example: “If you were to design your own funeral or memorial, what would it look like?” Though not written from a Christian perspective, the book offers suggestions that believers and nonbelievers could find profitable.

Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian

Sarah C. Williams

This poignant book tells how a British husband and wife discover their unborn daughter has a catastrophic abnormality that will result in certain death. Against the advice of their doctors, they choose to carry the baby to term. They name their unborn daughter Cerian, which in Welsh means “loved one.” During this difficult pregnancy, they also discover that one of their two daughters has very serious Crohn’s disease. Sarah Williams describes how God drew near to them in their suffering. She notes the ways modern culture dehumanizes the unborn, de-emphasizes fathers, and delights in the perfect.

Between Life and Death: A gospel-centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care

Kathryn Butler, MD

Butler is a critical care doctor who has dealt with all kinds of end-of-life issues. Here she shares some of the painful conversations and decisions families face. She helps readers go beyond buzz words to apply the Bible to these weighty matters, giving readers basic medical terminology to understand what interventions do and when they might be helpful. She explains how to tell when something is lifesaving and when it might prolong death. She uses stories to show how lack of knowledge can tear apart families. This book will be a valuable resource for individuals, families, pastors, and churches.

Finishing Our Story: Preparing for the End of Life 

Gregory L. Eastwood, MD

Eastwood is a medical doctor and ethics consultant with long experience dealing with patients and families at the end of life. He offers a mainstream, nondirected discussion that reflects what patients and families are likely to encounter at hospitals and emergency rooms. Kathryn Butler writes for the Christian who wants to make Biblically informed choices. Eastwood wants his more general readers to have the information they need to make informed choices at the end of life. Despite the difference in worldview, this book offers a lot of clearly written, helpful information. 


Joni Eareckson Tada (Handout)


Joni Eareckson Tada’s Heaven: Your Real Home … From a Higher Perspective (Zondervan, 2018) is an updated version of the book that first came out in 1995. Eareckson acknowledges that many Christians don’t like to think about heaven and often have un-Scriptural ideas about our future home that make it seem unappealing. She draws from Scripture to sketch out the joys awaiting us—and shows us the hope that comes from a heavenly perspective.

In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity (Dutton, 2018), science writer Carl Zimmer crafts a readable account of the history and science of heredity. The historical sections include shameful episodes that show scientists going to great lengths to define “feeblemindedness” and keep those deemed feebleminded from passing on the trait. He uses analyses of his own DNA to illustrate the advances in genetic science. Zimmer’s materialist perspective leaves unanswered many questions that Christians might have. —S.O.