Book Review Introduction: February/March 2024

The three books reviewed this month bring additional resources to the theme of this JLE issue. Each book approaches grief and loss from a unique perspective. In The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power, Courtney Vance and Robin Smith address suicide in the African American community, offering “practical and culturally sensitive wisdom necessary for African American males to pursue strong spiritual mental health and wellness” through self-care, openness, and community. Our reviewer, Rev. Dr. Richard Perry highly recommends it.

Nancy Arnison reviews and recommends two books offering a literary approach to addressing suffering. In The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation by Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s letters to bereaved friends “reject any easy consolation…He speaks directly to their sorrow, [with] unflinching acknowledgement of death and loss.” For Rilke, the beloved ones live on in our memories and in our daily conduct as we carry forward their lives and aspirations. (This review previously appeared in JLE in Feb 2019). In a new book, Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair, Christian Wiman of Yale Divinity School addresses despair and faith through poetry (his and other’s), theology, and memoir arising from his own 20 year struggle with a devastating cancer. A rich, unique and poignant book.

Nancy Arnison

Nancy Arnison is a lawyer, theologian and nonprofit executive and serves as the Book Review Editor for the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.