Edited by Jake Bouma and Erik Ullestad
Elbow Co., Des Moines, Iowa. 107 pages
The first thing to be said about this important book is that all the proceeds from the sale of it will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That is not the only reason to read this book. More important is the pastoral and theological insight that these 16 essays bring to the subject of grief, death and suffering. The editors describe this book as an exercise in “deliberative theological reflection” that questions what is often taken for granted, rather than “implicit theology” that is lived out without reflection. A few of the titles of the essays give clue to the directness of the book: “What Cancer Cannot Take Away” (Abigail Evans); “Wrestling with Who We Are” (Adam Copeland); “Stop Fighting Cancer” (Tony Jones); “God as Co-Sufferer” (Adam Walker Cleaveland). There are others by Brian McLaren, Carol Howard Merritt and Greg Garrett. One of editors himself has suffered cancer. That prompted this book as an alternative to easy answers and theological clichés in the face of real suffering. Cancer is described as a “communal event” (Paul Amlin) that can only be addressed by “theopraxis” (Kester Brewin). That last phrase might be considered a cliché, but the author intends it as a signal to face suffering with theological depth rather than mere sentimentally. The book intends the same.