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Preaching Death: Transformation of the Christian Funeral
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Preaching Death: Transformation of the Christian Funeral


Baylor University Press 2011

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


The language and imagery used in sermons about life and death often give way to language designed solely to comfort and celebrate. In Preaching Death, Lucy Bregman tracks the changes in Protestant American funerals over the last 100 years. Early twentieth-century “natural immortality” doctrinal funeral sermons transitioned to an era of “silence and denial,” eventually becoming expressive, biographical tributes to the deceased.

The contemporary death awareness movement, with the “death as a natural event” perspective, has widely impacted American culture, affecting health care, education, and psychotherapy and creating new professions such as hospice nurse and grief counselor. Bregman questions whether this transition—which occurred unobserved and without conflict—was inevitable and what alternative paths could have been chosen. In tracing this unique story, she reveals how Americans’ comprehension of death shifted in the last century—and why we must find ways to move beyond it.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

For more on the Christian perspective on death, check out Surprised.

Key Features

  • Examines how funeral sermons have developed in the last 100 years
  • Explores alternative ways of thinking about death using Christian theology
  • Critiques modern language of death designed solely to comfort


  • What Christians Used to Say about Death
    • A Changeover of Messages and Images
    • What Is a Christian Funeral?
    • Funeral Theologies of Death
    • Heaven as Home
    • Heaven as Journey
    • Natural Immortality
    • The Lord’s Will
  • The Age of Silence and Denial
    • “Please Omit Funeral”
    • The Challenge of New Theologies
    • Death as Enemy
  • What Came Next
    • New Words for Death, Dying, and Grief
    • The Triumph of the Biographical
  • What Might Have Been
    • Two Alternatives
    • What Might Have Been—Lament
    • The Eclipse of Poetry
  • What Christians No Longer Want to Say about Death

Praise for the Print Edition

A must-read for pastors, for those who teach them, and for grief counselors of any stripe; this is their story, too.

—Dennis Klass, emeritus professor of religious studies, Webster University

Clear, concise, and accessibly written, this book will doubtless be of interest to a wide audience, including not only those interested in Christian theology but those with a general interest in modern attitudes to death, dying, loss, and bereavement.

—Christopher M. Moreman, assistant professor of philosophy, California State University, East Bay

Preaching Death should be read by historians, preachers, and poets, and by anyone who longs to re-imagine death and grief in the twenty-first century.

—Margaret R. McLean, associate director and director of bioethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University

Product Details

About Lucy Bregman

Lucy Bregman is professor of religion at Temple University. Her previous publications include Death and Dying, Spirituality and Religions: A Study of the Death Awareness Movement, Beyond Silence and Denial: Death and Dying Reconsidered, and First Person Mortal: Personal Narratives of Illness, Dying and Grief.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition