Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rich in Years – Johann Christoph Arnold

 Rich in Years

© 2013 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York

Everyone faces aging and death. Many people are frightened by the idea. We want to live long, but we don’t want the side effects of aging. With the advent of life-prolonging technology and lifestyles, people are “ripening” more and more. Life expectancies are increasing. And fears and prejudices that plague the aged and aging are increasing right along with them. People don’t know how to respond to the aging of their loved ones, and in turn don’t know how to respond to their own battle with aging.

Kudos should be given to septuagenarian pastor Arnold for taking the time to address some of these fears. In this short book the author touches on all the issues that face people who are living longer, from accepting the changes that are inevitable, to dying with grace.

If I have one complaint about the book, it has more to do with my deep-seated evangelical roots than the information and quality of the book and its advice. I would like to see a stronger proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (it’s there, but softer than I’d like, and later than I care for).

Other than that (which is probably more me than the author and his thoughts), the book brings together some excellent stories from people who are or have lived the aging process. Arnold challenges readers, young and old alike, to take a fresh look at the twilight years. Advice to the aging includes things like sharing your wisdom, and passing on the reins of control. To younger readers, the advice includes soaking in the wisdom of those who have been there and reveling in the new child-likeness of a parent who seems to have lost their mind.

I would recommend this book for a number of audiences: Clergy who work with the aging and dying; members of the older generation who are fearfully facing the silver-lined, silver-haired years; younger generations whose parents and grandparents are already there. Anyone could benefit from this positive look at what is to come should we live so long.

The book is well-written, and the information about aging is sound. I’d have to give the book 4 out of 5 reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, April 3, 2014

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for this review.]

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