Stations of the Heart

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Professor Richard Lischer’s new memoir about the death of his son has generated a great deal of favorable attention in conventional and social media, churches, medical communities, and various Catholic dioceses nationwide. Religious and secular reading groups also are using the book in a variety of settings.

In Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son, Lischer evokes the grace, humor, and daring faith with which his 33-year-old son, Adam, faced cancer and his impending death while awaiting the birth of his first child. Lischer, the James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School, has taught preaching at Duke for 33 years, and has taught courses on religious autobiography and memoir for more than a decade.

The Christian Century described his book as an exceptional one in its exploration of meaning and wholeness in the midst of suffering, while adding that it ranks with such classic memoirs as John Gunther's Death Be Not Proud and Nicholas Wolterstorff's Lament for a Son.

“It is elegant without excess, personal without self-absorption, profoundly emotional without sentimentality,” the magazine review stated. “It tells as much about the father as about the son, exploring the complicated relationship between them. It looks beyond the one man's death to the death we all will face. It raises religious and philosophical questions without offering pat answers.”

In a review for People magazine, writer Anne Lamott described the book as “a gorgeous, profound, deeply spiritual nonfiction story about a professor of divinity whose son is expecting his first child while dying of melanoma.”

The book also has been favorably reviewed in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and The Toronto Star. It also was the subject of a Religious News Service article that appeared in The Washington PostThe Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), and other media outlets across the country.

“Stations of the Heart” also has been mentioned in numerous articles on topics such as death cafes (forums in which young people are made to be more comfortable discussing death); Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter observances; and praying the Psalms. Publications include The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), The Wichita Eagle, The Huffington Post, and Guideposts magazine.

A wide-ranging interview with Lischer on the subject of writing can be found in Biographile on the Random House website.