Growing Old in Christ

Growing Old in Christ

Growing Old in Christ

Growing Old in Christ


One of the hallmarks of contemporary culture is its attitude toward aging and the elderly. Youth and productivity are celebrated in today's society, while the elderly are increasingly marginalized. This not only poses difficulties for old people but is also a loss for the young and middle-agers, who could learn much from the elderly, including what it means to grow old (and die) "in Christ."

Growing Old in Christ presents the first serious theological reflection ever on what it means to grow old, particularly in our culture and particularly as a Christian. In a full-orbed discussion of the subject, eighteen first-rate Christian thinkers survey biblical and historical perspectives on aging, look at aging in the modern world, and describe the "Christian practice of growing old." Along the way they address many timely issues, including the medicalization of aging, the debate over physician-assisted suicide, and the importance of friendships both among the elderly and between the elderly and the young.

Weighty enough to instruct theologians, ethicists, and professional caregivers yet accessible enough for pastors and general readers, this book will benefit anyone seeking faith-based insight into growing old.

Contributors :
David Aers
David Cloutier
Rowan A. Greer
Stanley Hauerwas
Judith C. Hays
Richard B. Hays
Shaun C. Henson
L. Gregory Jones
Susan Pendleton Jones
Patricia Beattie Jung
Stephen Long
M. Therese Lysaught
David Matzko McCarthy
Keith G. Meador
Charles Pinches
James Shuman
Carole Bailey Stoneking
Laura Yordy


A tale ascribed to the sage Dov Baer of Mezhirech tells of a certain Rabbi Leib who wandered over the earth, following the course of rivers, in order to redeem souls of the living and the dead. in the tale, Rabbi Leib explains to his followers his own earlier spiritual mission when he had set out to visit a famous sage. “I did not go to the Maggid in order to hear Torah from him,” he said, “but to see how he unlaces his felt shoes and laces them up again.”

The teachings of the Hasidic sages often took this form of indirect communication, shifting back and forth between the sacred (the words of Torah) and the mundane (shoelaces). the tales stretch the mind, requiring tolerance for ambiguity and incongruity. To spiritualize the mundane, “to hallow this life,” is one goal of Jewish spirituality. Such ordinary actions as putting on and taking off clothing—tying and untying, covering and uncovering—become the parable of a way of living.

The editors of this volume felt that thinking about the living of a long life should be a path to wisdom, a path to thinking about a good life. and we were right, but in an unexpected fashion. the contributors to this volume have led us into sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, always provocative conversation with a wonderful cast of fellow travelers, from Piers the Plowman to Delia Grinstead to Aelred of Rievaulx to St. Thomas Aquinas, a chorus of voices uncovered by the contributors who have themselves reinvigorated the ancient biblical tradition of using storytelling to explore truth.

The contributors have raised important questions: How does the story of Christ shape the stories we tell ourselves about our pasts and our future? How do we remember those stories? Does the purpose of life become clearer in old age? How are virtues such as deliberateness, reflective humor, patience, and generosity nurtured? How do we find common meanings across generational . . .

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