A Friendship in Twilight

A Friendship in Twilight: Lockdown Conversations on Death and Life
by Jack Miles and Mark C. Taylor

Columbia University Press, 456 pp. Hardcover and Paperback. July 5, 2022

In a time of plague, fundamental questions become immediate and personal. The pandemic, droughts, floods, fire, political violence: the world has been grimly reminded of the proximity and inevitability of death. Jack Miles and Mark C. Taylor―acclaimed public intellectuals and scholars of religion, one a Christian and the other an atheist, close friends for fifty years―have spent their lives grappling with questions of ultimate concern. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, locked down at home and facing an uncertain future, Miles and Taylor embarked on an extended conversation about living and dying in an imperiled world.

A Friendship in Twilight is their plague journal. In raw and searching letters, written daily from the first lockdowns through the Capitol riot, Miles and Taylor reflect on life during overlapping crises. Amid the menace of the pandemic and the unceasing political turmoil, they debate the lessons that a catastrophic present can teach about the future and how to read, think, live, and face up to death. Confronting the vulnerability of their aging bodies and the frailty of American democracy, the two friends discuss why and how philosophical reflection matters for a wounded world. Their conversations are imbued with an ever-present sense of urgency about the worth of a life, the fragility of existence, and the uncertainty of endings. Seamlessly moving from heartfelt emotion to philosophical speculation, current events to great art and literature, this book is a powerful and moving testament to the precarity of life and to enduring friendship.

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