“In my late thirties I was diagnosed with incurable cancer. It will kill me, if nothing else does first.”
Todd Billings, author of “The End of the Christian Life” and host of the podcast of the same name, speaks with all the authority of experience about suffering, death, mourning and hope. In each episode Todd speaks with someone who has a different perspective on this subject including scholars, pastors, funeral directors, and those who suffer themselves with incurable illness. The podcast carefully unpacks some of the false promises that churches explicitly or implicitly teach, and the ways we could all be better prepared to face the end of our lives.
For me, 2020 was marked by grief and loss as friends and family members died one after another and I was privileged to witness extraordinary faith as they faced the end of this life with confident hope for the next. This podcast was recommended to me by a friend who has been in palliative care for several months. She knows more than most of us about facing the realities of death head on.
The podcast has much to offer pastors for counselling Christians and their loved ones through terminal illness, death and bereavement, as well as to inform their regular preaching. For thoughtful believers struggling with their own suffering, it may also be appropriate, though I would be cautious about recommending it to those in the emotional maelstrom of recent diagnosis or in the immediate aftermath of bereavement.
Where to start
There are just six episodes to this podcast, so you may wish to listen to them all or pick the ones you are most interested in. I found the episode called ‘The Human Body, “The Incarnate Thing”’ featuring an undertaker and poet, Thomas Lynch, to be particularly moving and fascinating. He speaks about growing up surrounded by the realities of death, the suicide of his daughter, and the Christian hope that holds us up in the face of our mortality.
Find The End of the Christian Life podcast here and through all good podcast providers.