Amazon Book Description
- Where do we go when we die? Or is there nowhere to go? Is death something we can do or is it just something that happens to us?
- Now in his ninth decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths. In Waiting for the Last Bus, he presents a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death: facing up to the limitations of our bodies as they falter, reflecting on our failings, and forgiving ourselves and others.
- But in a modern world increasingly wary of acknowledging mortality, this is also a stirring plea to reacquaint ourselves with death. Facing and welcoming death gives us the chance to think about not only the meaning of our own life, but of life itself; and can mean the difference between ordinary sorrow and unbearable regret at the end. Radical, joyful and moving, Waiting for the Last Bus is an invitation to reconsider life's greatest mystery by one of the most important and beloved religious leaders of our time.
- I bought this book partly because of my interest in end-of-life1 matters, but also as a way into Richard Holloway’s thought. I have a number of his books – unread – and he’s one of those “Unbelieving Bishops2” my earlier self was taught to resist, but with whom I’m now more sympathetic.
- I should have made notes on the book as I went along, as I now can’t remember the details. I may return to it one day to flesh out these jottings.
- However, I thought the book a little rambling, and there were too many long poetic quotations with which I had little sympathy3.
- Holloway had some interesting things to say about free will4. Some early passages suggested that all we do is determined5, but in other passages he suggested that, while the cards we are dealt are not down to us, how we play them is.
- Holloway includes many passages in which he talks about the time he’s spent with the dying. I wasn’t sure that his “spiritually comforting” role – in the absence of personal belief6 – is correct though it’s difficult to know what to do in such circumstances. Is it right to give someone what to you is false comfort, or is this just what is needed in the circumstances (as Holloway suggests)?
- There’s much good stuff on the need to accept death as an inevitable part of life, and to treat it as a call to round out one’s life, restore broken relationships where possible, and the like. We are to go gently into that good night, and not rage against the dying of the light7, at least if our exit is at our natural time.
- I found the passage about the death of his dog rather moving, having a dog whose sometime death – hopefully not for many years yet – I need to prepare myself for. Though, of course, there are other more important deaths to prepare for.
In-Page Footnotes ("Holloway (Richard) - Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death")
Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3:
Footnote 5: He references "Warnock (Mary) - Ethical challenges in embryo manipulation".
- Though I note that theological liberals treat “religion” as poetry.
- John Polkinghorne once advised me to treat the Bible this way.
Footnote 7: For Dylan Thomas’s poem, see Wikipedia (Wikipedia: Do not go gentle into that good night) and text (Link).
- Holloway seems to be theoretically agnostic about the possibility of life after death, though I got the impression that he was doubtful, though less so than I’d expected.
- Canongate Books; Main edition (1 Mar. 2018)
- On loan to Julie.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)