DEATH ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON (Seven Last Words) by Richard John Neuhaus ($15.95)*

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"If what Christians say about Good Friday is true," Richard John Neuhaus writes, ~then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything." Writing in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, Neuhaus sets out to unpack this macrocosmic truth that sets Good Friday apart from all other days, even from all other holy days. For a sustained meditation on the meanings and mysteries of this day, we could have no more accomplished guide than Neuhaus.

Numerous writers and composers have been captivated by the mysteriousness and suggestiveness of the Seven Last Words; Haydn, Beethoven and Dvorak composed major works around them, and writers such as James Joyce, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas and Samuel Beckett return to them again and again. But Neuhaus's exploration of each of these utterances is something altogether different. Through them he plumbs the depths of human experience and sets forth the central narrative of Western civilization--the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ -- in a way that envelopes the attention of believers, unbelievers and those who are not sure what they believe.

Was it necessary for Christ to die? Is it necessary that we suffer and die? If so, why? What is the connection between the undeniable fact of evil in the world and some ultimate justice? Does justice require punishment, and, if so, how can it be just that the one person in history who was not guilty should suffer such a cruel death? In a culture devoted to pleasure and the avoidance of suffering, is it possible that bad things can be redemptive? In seeking answers to these questions inspired by the Seven Last Words, Neuhaus invites the reader into a spiritual and intellectual exploration of the dark side of human experience while always holding out the promise of light and life on the far side of this darkness.

Far from seeking to explain Good Friday, Death on a Friday Afternoon invites readers to embark on a journey into mystery, an adventure into wonder. It asks them to ponder the stories of people today, too, who in their troubles find themselves at the foot of the Cross, sometimes in anger, sometimes in joy, but always with a deeper awareness of the mystery of their own lives within the mystery of life itself.

RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS is acclaimed as one of the foremost authorities on the role of religion in the contemporary world and has been described by US News and World Report as one of the "most influential intellectuals in America." Currently president of the Institute on Religion and Public Life and the editor-in-chief of First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, he is also the author of numerous books including The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America and Freedom for Ministry. With Charles Colson, he is the editor of Evangelicals & Catholics Together. He lives in New York City.

"Father Neuhaus has hit upon the brilliant idea of exploring three of the most crucial hours in human history, and through this small window, he gives us the universe. My library shelves groan with books of spiritual writing; this is one of the few that I plan to carry in my pocket by day and keep by my bedside at night. A masterful achievement." -- Philip Zaleski, author of The Recollected Heart and editor of Gifts of the Spirit

"Father Neuhaus has been known as a superb writer, speaker and thinker for many years. This book shows his depth of heart. At the same time very readable and profoundly moving, Death on a Friday Afternoon will touch that hidden place in each of us which yearns for God despite, or because of, all our imperfections. This is a marvelous book, not merely for Eastertide, but for every day of the year for the Cross, the instrument of our redemption, is the source of Christian joy." -- Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.EM. Cap., Archbishop of Denver

"Father Neuhaus provides a compelling account of Christ's seven last words from the Cross. There is something here for anyone who wants to understand better the central act of the Christian religion." -- Cardinal Bernard Law, Archdiocese of Boston

"When the editor of First Things turns his attention to last things, the result is a series of meditations whose spiritual depth is matched only by the author's compassionate insight into the human condition. Death on a Friday Afternoon is a book for all seasons of the year and for every stage of one's journey through life." --Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University & The Pontifical Council for the Laity

"Writing with his customary elegance, Father Neuhaus gives a masterful explanation of why Christians call the day on which Jesus dies 'Good Friday.' While not everyone will agree with some of his theological convictions, there can be no doubting the depth of understanding of and appreciation for the saving work of Christ that Neuhaus demonstrates. His meditations are at once deeply personal and profoundly intellectual. This is a book I enthusiastically recommend." -- Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries

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