Everything Happens for A Reason

Everything Happens for A Reason

And Other Lies I've Loved

Book - 2018
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Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God's disapproval. At thirty-five, everything in her life seems to point toward "blessing." She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son. Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with "a surge of determination." Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you "can't do" and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before. Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live. - Publisher.
Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the School of Divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the "American prosperity gospel"--The creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough -- Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same "outrageous certainties." She wants to know why it's so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
Multiscript Copyrightdate: 018
ISBN: 9780399592065
0399592067
Branch Call Number: 362.19699 B7871e 2018
Characteristics: xviii, 178 pages ; 20 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

What to say when someone gets some tragically bad news? "The truth is that no one knows what to say. It's awkward...But take the advice of one man, who wrote to me with his policy: Show up and shut up."


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Bududo
Oct 27, 2018

The author breezily relates the story of her diagnosis and eventual survival of intestinal cancer. Interspersed are insights about life as a young wife and mother. The author is an historian of the Christian progressive gospel theology in which she familiarly moves within its community and receives advice, commentary, and criticisms all of which she in turn critiques. The best & most helpful part of the book is a section at the very back where she provides some suggestions of what to say and what not to say to people who have a serious illness.

d
dirtbag
Jun 05, 2018

This is outstanding in its truthfulness and accuracy but it is not a depressing read. It reminded me often of experiences that I had had and of people whom I met and the phoney optimism that seems to come with someone's cancer diagnosis..... all of those pink pom pom wavers. This lady has something to say and everyone should hear it. I found this book to be profound.

c
closedbook
May 23, 2018

summer reading list.

r
rstodd
Apr 06, 2018

Well worth reading for anyone who has a friend or loved one who is living with cancer. I would add one other bit of advice that she overlooked. When people offer to help give them the opportunity to do so.
For those of us with cancer it is nice to see a book from a person who is living with it. “ The last Lecture,” and,” When Breath Becomes Air,” are both excellent books but Kate Bowler offers additional hope that one can live with cancer. Not just survive.
Richard Todd

laurendouglass Apr 03, 2018

This book had several stand out sentences that are still stuck in my head. Including --

When the author's friend, a pediatric oncologist, is described as:
"He knows what it is like to explode the world."

When the author is writing about her fixation on the future, even though she doesn't know how much future she has left:
"It was the sin of arrogance, of becoming impervious to life itself. I failed to love what was present and decided to love what was possible instead. I must learn to live in ordinary time, but I don't know how."

If you loved "When Breath Becomes Air", "The Bright Hour", "The Last Lecture", this book will speak to you.

c
CarleeMcDot
Mar 16, 2018

I don't remember how I came across this book or why it ended up on my "For Later" list at the library, but I needed a quick read before we left for our 3 week road trip and this one was available. I didn't know anything about it when I grabbed it but the title intrigued me. The book follows the author along her journey of being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and her "acceptance" along the way. (I put acceptance in quotes because throughout the story there are definitely ups and downs, days that she feels rage or fear, calm or grief. I wouldn't say that in the end you feel a complete sense of acceptance, but one of realization that she must live in the now because tomorrow is never promised.) I know this may sound cold, but I didn't love the book. I felt like the best parts were actually the appendix (a list of things to NEVER say to someone experiencing a hard time and a list of potential things you could say). I totally understand that this is about her personal journey and maybe I am expecting too much, but I was left wanting more - wanting more of a conclusion, wanting more of her relationship with God (she talks about how she is in expert in the field of the prosperity gospel, but never really touches on HER beliefs), wanting more something. This was a quick read so I didn't feel like I had too much invested in it, but when I finished I was still a bit disappointed. I would give it a 6 out of 10.

j
jasmine81
Mar 13, 2018

This was an honest look at the hard question of why people suffer and where God is when bad things happen. I've always struggled with the idea of "everything happens for a reason" and "Bad things that happen are a test from God" and what to say to people you just ache for, because they are going through such hard things. God sending or "allowing" bad things to happen is not the loving God I know! The author also explores the idea of "the prosperity gospel"; people who think they can control their lives by acting a certain way, and blaming bad things that happen, or being sick on "sins" (didn't that thinking end when Jesus came? Do we really believe that God punishes people by sending illnesses?) Such an important book to read.

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