by Fritz de Lange
Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. 159 pages
In a culture that nearly idolizes youth and disdains aging, this is a necessary book. It’s also an honest and wise read that will help strengthen the reader’s capacity to love throughout life. The demographics of our country actually press for this book to be widely read.
The author’s particular focus is on the frail elderly — those “on the brink of deep old age.” To be frail is to be vulnerable and dependent for the ordinary activities of life. Fritz de Lange has a singular question: which ethics best promotes the good of the frail elderly? This finely written book is the result of the pursuit of that plain question.
Along the way, de Lange addresses the need for such an ethics by reason of demographics (and more). He then argues for an ethics of love that enhances the well-being of others and even deepens love for neighbor. Importantly, the love of self — including the self that is edging toward dying — is necessary if one is to increase the capacity of love for others. He does not shy away from the aversion, if not repulsion, that some have toward the frail elderly, mentioning the student who told him, “Old people make me feel sick.” Pastors know the frail elderly. We need to know this book too because it will increase our capacity to love until we die.