On a February day in 2008, Forrest Church sent a letter to the members of his congregation, informing them that he had terminal cancer; his life would now be measured in months, not years. In that remarkable letter, he wrote: "In more than one respect, I feel very lucky." He went on to promise that he would sum up his thoughts on the topics that had been so pervasive in his work - love and death - in a final book.
Church has been justly celebrated as a writer of American history, but his works of spiritual guidance have been especially valued for their insight and inspiration. As a minister Church defined religion as "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die." The goal of life, he tells us, "is to live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for." This last book in his impressive oeuvre is imbued with ideas and exemplars for achieving that goal. The stories he offers - drawn from his own experiences and from the lives of his friends, family, and parishioners - are both engrossing and enlightening. Forrest Church's final work may be his most lasting gift to his listeners.