Featured Book: The Mystery of Death

“‘The terror of death is death itself.’” It’s with these words…not the author’s, but Martin Luther’s…that Dorothee Soelle began her last book, The Mystery of Death. In truth, this is a 132-page fragment, the last few lines of which she wrote two days before her own demise in 2003.

“Whoever reads this book,” her widower, Fulbert Steffensky, wrote in the foreword, “will sense that her hand became tired. What never became tired is her wonderful, enraged passion for life.” Consider these declarations: “[T]he less human beings have lived…the harder it is for them to die”; “Nothing has enticed me into Christianity as much as this conviction—God needs us”; “To become able to love is life’s aim”.

“This meaningful book,” the Jesuits-in-the-USA magazine America affirmed, “allows the reader to see into the very heart of its author. […] [Soelle] believed in a world where death can and should be conquered by human love and faith.” “Even as she approached death, she offered life and its continuity,” Chaplaincy Today agreed.

Mystery’s publisher pictures Soelle as “a pioneer figure in feminist theology,” a peace activist who championed liberation movements, and an ecumenist whose “views were often contested by the established churches.”

The Mystery of Death
By Dorothee Soelle
Fortress Press, 2007