Though I wouldn’t categorize this as a happy book, I loved everything about it. The title pretty much sets the mood and I can’t possibly express how much I appreciate the tone and the subject matter contained in this book. I am definitely a Christian but I really get irritated by some of the things that people say with such certainty. “Everything happens for a reason” is one of those things, even though I used to be one of those people that believed that.
It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to believe all the way until you are dealing with an unfair death and then there is no seeing the reason. And no, helping others is not a reason. There are some things that no one should have to go through. But let me not get distracted. Bowler doesn’t speak poorly of Christianity, she is a believer. She just doesn’t believe everything that Christians say anymore and I really have to agree. The things that some people say are not always the same thing as tenants of Christianity and it’s good to be weary of blindly following the teachings of anyone. That was actually one of the reasons that I had originally decided to go back and blog through the Bible myself. To see what there actually was to see.
Bowler had been a long time researcher of the prosperity gospel, it had been the topic of her first book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. In Everything Happens for a Reason, personal tragedy makes her take another look at what they teach and what her personal feelings are about it. Even though the subject was sad, I felt like the book commiserated with me on the difference between what personal tragedy feels like and how people who are doing fine right then want to treat it. I don’t want to ignore my problems or ask someone else to fix them. Sometimes I just need to wade through the problem, sometimes we just need to sit with problems because they are not fixable. Sometimes we just need to listen to each other and recognize that personal faith has nothing to do with how well off we are and Bowler does just that.
It was a therapeutic book to read and something I needed right when it came my way. This would be a hard book to recommend to people, though. It’s well written and researched but not what I would think of as the kind of book that could be flatly recommended to a group. This is a book for people who need it, who have been let down by the idea that being faithful to God means that everything will be okay somehow. I haven’t started the New Testament yet, but one look at the Old Testament and it’s pretty clear. Bad things are going to happen, faithful or not, and not everything can be chalked up to a test of some sort. Sometimes things are just bad because they are. It’s a book for people who have been hurt and are dealing with it and don’t feel the need to be cheerful about it all the time, for people who want to be reminded that they are not alone in the pain they’ve had in life. Most of all, it’s a book about dealing with tragedy without giving up on religion or giving in to it, but working through what you did believe with what you’ve come to believe.
I’m definitely going to check out her first book and her upcoming Preacher’s Wife: Women and Power in American Megaministry when it comes out too. Check it out on BookLikes by clicking on the cover image above or add to Goodreads for later.