The Last Passage

The Last Passage : Recovering a Death of Our Own

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Is death merely the cessation of life? Are our final years simply a wearing out of the body? Are hospitals and funeral homes, the bureaucratic machinery of death, capable of handling the profound spiritual dimension of dying? In The Last Passage, Donald Heinz offers wise answers to these questions in a book that urges us to "recover a death of our own" and to view our final years as a fulfilment, a "last career". Despite the recent spate of books on death and dying, death remains a fact our culture tries desperately to ignore. In other times and in other cultures, preparing for death was seen as an important spiritual task, perhaps the most important task of our lives. Heinz argues that we can reconceive of death, reinvest it with meaning, and save it from becoming a meaningless biological event. Seeking appropriate models for such a reconstruction, Heinz offers a fascinating overview of the many ways death has been envisioned and ritualized throughout human history, from the Tibetan Book of the Dead to 15th century Christian ars moriendi-manuals on the art of dying-and from Jean Paul Sartre to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. He also surveys the more recent contributions of psychologists, anthropologists, cultural critics, and death awareness advocates, whose efforts have largely failed to integrate death into a larger human story and the larger human community. Finally, Heinz shows us how we might create rituals through the use of music, visual arts, dance, drama, and language that would enable us to approach death with reverence, as the spiritual consummation of our more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160.3 x 239.3 x 26.2mm | 585.75g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195116437
  • 9780195116434

About Donald Heinz

Donald Heinz is Dean, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, California State University, Chico. He lives in Chico, more

Review quote

"There is no doubt that death is now out of the closet, and being discussed in hospitals, courtrooms, and lawyers' offices. But that is not enough. Donald Heinz would have us think much more richly and deeply about death, attempting to find ways to bring to death a greater sense of the sacred and of ritual. His is a rich and vital contribution on a central and neglected topic."-Daniel Callahan, Director, The Hastings Center "Donald Heinz in The Last Passage has performed an immensely useful task: he has sorted through the vast and heterogeneous literature on death and dying that has grown up in recent years and shown us what is valuable in it as well as what is lacking when held up to a serious look at the phenomenon it purports to clarify. In his beautifully written and carefully argued book Heinz describes the insights about death of several of the great traditions and shows the way in which a renewed understanding of retual can help us deal more adequately with this ultimate challenge."-Robert N. Bellah, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkley and coauthor of Habits of the Heart and The Good Society the Heart "Donald Heinz is a mature and insightful observer of our society's anxieties about the last passage. But he is also something more - a person whose own experiences of loss and hope have coalesced into a vision of revewal for the communal spirit that can see us safely through both life and death."-Robert Kastenbaum, Arizona State Universityshow more

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