In contrast to religious traditions that attempt to shield us from death by promising eternal life or by denying or demeaning physical existence, Glaser looks at death directly and with appreciation for what it teaches us about life. Death is an inscrutable and even stern Zen master ready to teach us, a spiritual director eager to inspire us, a soul-friend reminding us that our lifespan has sacred worth.
Glaser writes movingly of the deaths that have shaped his soul, whether those deaths occurred through assassination, murder, suicide, accident, divorce, illness, or AIDS. A few deaths were especially transforming and personal, and all will open readers’ hearts to their own discoveries when facing The Final Deadline.
In an accessible, thoughtful, and often entertaining way, theologian and spiritual leader Glaser (Come Home! Reclaiming Spirituality and Community as Gay Men and Lesbians) explicates his personal experiences with death. Gleaning wisdom from his several callings as a gay Christian minister, activist, and caregiver during the AIDS crisis, and, most significantly, as a writer Glaser examines death's harsh realities and suggests the benefit of viewing death as a "kindly if awesome teacher about what is vital, important, and ultimate." With compassionate introspection as well as a touch of gallows humor, Glaser unpacks his own reactions to deaths he personally experienced: his grandmother's, from illness; accidental deaths of classmates; public deaths (such as JFK's); murders; suicides; AIDS deaths; even a beloved pet's death and a relationship's end. By sharing personal stories of his gratitude at being present for a loved one's final breath, his shock at learning of a colleague's murder, and his regret at an estranged friend's unexpected death, Glaser provides an honest and hopeful witness to death's lessons for the living.