While recognising the limitations of a book about death, where words are sometimes used which cannot bear the weight, John Bowker here puts forward, with integrity and honesty, a compelling case for the creative significance of death, and shows how value and dignity can be maintained at the limits of life without an illusory search for compensation. The author's view is that the religious exploration of death has nothing to do (as has often been maintained) with the projection of compensating paradises to those who cannot face the reality of oblivion; it has everything to do, however, with the affirmation of value, right up to the boundary of death. By examining the themes of sacrifice and friendship, in both eastern and western contexts, Bowker argues that in both these themes there are points of vital contact with secular understandings of death, and that religious and secular interpretations can reinforce and support one another in the human response to death. A recovery of the value of death, the author maintains, is important for all of us, not least in how we come to react to bereavement and in the treatment of the terminally ill in hospital and hospice work.
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