YOLO ("you only live once") is the acronym du jour. You may have come across it on Twitter (#yolo), in a Drake song, or tattooed on actor Zac Efron's hand. Lampooned as often as it is championed, the trendy motto conjures up a familiar, hedonistic sensibility of living for the moment, consequences be damned.
N. D. Wilson's Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (Thomas Nelson) isn't exactly an apologetic for YOLO, but it is cut from similar cloth. Technology, globalism, and social media give our contemporary world an especially palpable sense of ephemerality. YOLO, aided by a mortality-denying consumer culture, translates this into narcissistic YouTube tomfoolery, "sexting," and SnapChat (the new no-paper-trail social media fad). But Wilson wants us to lead lives that lean into time and run toward death, after the model of Christ. Death is not a shadow to be feared or an abstraction to put out of our minds. Rather, it is a part of God's creational good, a beautiful reminder of the brevity of breath and the urgency of life.
Like Wilson's well-received Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl (2009), Death by Living is a hybrid of memoir, apologetics, theology, philosophy, and lyrical prose, at once irreverent and worshipful, comical and elegiac. But where Tilt-A-Whirl focused on a way of seeing, Death by Living focuses on "a way of living, a way of receiving life."
"I am a man attempting to paint another picture of the same wonderful world, but I have turned my easel around," writes Wilson. "I've taken my best shot at the sunrise. Now for the sunset."
The thesis of Death by Living is that Christians should live fully in every moment, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more