Review - Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death

Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death by Bernd Heinrich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tightly crafted essays illumine the necessary connections between life and death, namely, how matter is transformed from death into life. Heinrich’s writing, as ever in his books for general readers, is lyrical and accessible. The last essay wends into reflection on how we make meaning from life and death and invites reflection on how religions are part of that meaning-making. Many Unitarian Universalists and other liberal religionists will take both inspiration and comfort from this book, for, with Heinrich, we accept that one cannot argue with life itself  (Heinrich uses the term “nature”). Heinrich is making a case for a greater acceptance that we are of and belong to the whole, and to change how we approach both life and death. He does not directly raise the issue of fearfulness of death and dying, but he does provide many reframed perspectives which might open the way of changing that fear and separation and strengthening our sense of connection to the wholeness of life, which is, by necessity, also the wholeness of death. Liberal religionists exploring death and dying issues may wish to take up this text, and the conversations that will easily arise from them, on how to return to the whole and not keep ourselves apart, on the wisdom of many religious traditions and customs that recognize and sustain that wholeness and not further separation, and on how we can make choices to live, sustained by and sustaining the whole, and make those choices accessible to all.

Such is the real meaning of repentance: not trying to blame bad genes, bad parents, or bad role models, or other environmental factors, but owning up to the fact that you made a wrong turn and are in need of a moral course correction. The objective of repentance is wholeness, reconciliation, and reunion. Repentance in the end if all about taking the most direct way home
Suzanne Meyer (Unitarian Universalist, minister)