Ever since Nietzsche made his famous pronouncement, theologians have wrung their hands over the metaphorical death of God. Yet what if God’s death were no metaphor? What if it were a documented event headlining every newspaper and covered incessantly by every television news channel in the world? What would happen to our world? To us?
The work of Mary Oliver is one of those rare and lovely convergences. She is a lyric artist with a riveted eye and an enormous heart, one of the nation’s great spiritual sentinels. She was also graced for more than 40 years with the love of her life, the late photographer Molly Malone Cook.
A lengthy prepublication excerpt in the New York Times Magazine, quotations on the back cover from famous scholars using descriptions like “profound,” “elegant and erudite” and “landmark in political philosophy”—short of selection for Oprah’s Book Club, it is hard to imagine how a book could come trailing more clo