Whence and Whither : A Book Review

Whence and Whither“Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living,” is a collection of writings by Thomas Lynch. Lynch is a poet who also happens to be a funeral director. He is known for his observations on death. “Whence and Whither,” as its subtitle indicates, is much more about life and living it well. It’s easy to see that lynch is a poet, first and foremost. His words go down like milk and honey, for the most part. He, like so many artists, also has no problem questioning the status quo.

Lynch doesn’t spare religion in this quest.

The author was cynical toward the church, as a whole, especially the Catholic Church. The book is ranked in Christian and theology categories; yet, at times he seems to question the very existence of God. Even though I didn’t agree with many of the writer’s opinions, I found his writing to be excellent. It was much like meeting an interesting stranger and after a couple of hours of conversation, feeling like you’ve grown, somehow. Growth almost always requires looking at things from a point of view from which you haven’t previously.

One section (several pages, in fact) of prose was used, word for word in 2 separate essays In, “Whence and Whither.” This was a bit confusing for me as the reader. I spent a bit of time double checking the text to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I was correct about the repeated text. The jury is still out on the issue of my sanity.

I truly enjoyed “Whence and Whither.”

There was poetry, essays on a variety of topics, and even a play (which I loved!). He included many stories from his extensive time spent in Ireland.  I liked the writing style and the author’s honesty and transparency. He has a lifetime of experience, from which we can learn much.

One of the many passages I made note of was this: “All I can testify to are the times I knew that, if God is love, as John instructs us, Then I’ve seen God and more than once. And not where I expected.” This is a good description of how I felt reading, “Whence and Whither.” I was in awe at the wisdom and beauty I found in the writings of a man who I largely disagreed with on many topics.

Lynch didn’t write a whole lot on issues of death and grief. If you are hoping to read the author’s thoughts on death and grieving, you might be better served by reading his other book, “The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade.” If you are looking for thought-provoking writings about life from a top-notch poet, “Whence and Whither,” is a book I would highly recommend.

I give “Whence and Whither” 4 enthusiastic stars.

You can preorder “Whence and Whither” until March 12, 2019. At that time it will be published and available for sale. Thank you to Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Heather EricksonThe Ericksons

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

4 thoughts on “Whence and Whither : A Book Review”

  1. This sounds like an interesting collection. And who better to write about life and death than a funeral director?

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