A BOOK REVIEW – HAROLD S. KUSHNER
When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a book that is written in a philosophical and objective manner. It demonstrates ethics, logic and restraint in dealing with adversities. It helps one stop and think before they react. It takes your thought pattern outside of the box into reality.
I agree with Kushner secular and theology way of thinking to a certain extent. I follow the conservative movement of Judaism. God infiltrates my heart, mind, body and soul. I practice and observe the commandments, (according to Halakha), as much as I can, (within my human capabilities). Wherever it is written, “once I was blind and now I see”, I think this book is an eye opener to the blind. This book offers optimism verses pessimism to God and religion. For those that are incapable of loving those who don’t love them and for those that are unable to forgive this book offers hope.
I would suggest that anyone that have been scourge, disappointed, thinks their life has been unfair, individuals that have experienced cruel treatment and have dealt with lost, (including but not limited to lost by death), should read this book. If you can’t understand how or why bad things happen to good people or if you blame God for not circumventing when people are hurt during crime, catastrophes, accidents and diseases then maybe this book can shed some light. Of course because I am a Jew and my religion is Judaism, I may agree with Kushner to a certain extent. But, there are many from other faiths or atheist that may not agree with me or Kushner. For some nothing can change their way of thinking. Let me reiterate that I am not a Rabbi or a Priest nor do I choose to be.
Judaism teaches that we must live with faith even when we have no indisputable evidence. Unfortunately bad things does happen to good people for no apparent reason at all. One may suggest the laws of nature both scientific and natural. But do not assume that God is malevolent and caused it to happen. I agree that our human bodies are miracles not because they challenged the laws of nature but specifically because they comply with them. I realize that people do bad things to other people that cause hurt, pain, embarrassment, shame and death.
As I have mentioned theology is a religious theory school of thought or Gods’ relation to the world or system of belief. However, when Kushner speaks of a not – all-powerful God, I don’t think he is saying he, (God), is not omniscient or omnipotent. I think he is rationalizing his God of humanity. His God stands for justice, fairness, compassion and have given us moral distinction. His God has given us freedom to choose. He has given us the path to life and death. All we have to do is follow his commandments. He is simply stating that if we are not free to choose we are destined by our state of affairs, our surroundings, knowledge or capabilities. Therefore, we are no different from animals who is bound by instinct.
In my humble opinion God has proven he is all-powerful in his creation of the universe. However he will not take away our freedom to choose or our moral instinct even when we use it in immoral or self-indulgent ways.
This book confirms my belief that people are subjective, oblivious and callous. When your love one dies what do you want from other people? Well many want to be left alone, some want comfort, some want to be angry and want others to be angry too. A few may want company that will remain silent but just be there. But I don’t believe anyone wants to be blamed or made to feel worst than they already do. Do people realize the words that they think offer support and comfort just infuriate the bereaved. For example: This is God’s message to you. God only put on you what he knows you can handle. It wasn’t meant to be. All things happen for a reason. Do they realize they have overstepped any acceptable boundaries? Do those words require any strategic manipulation or are some individuals just that clueless? Instead of daunting and defiling the mourner whatever happen to positive condolences and responsiveness? Can one put judgment aside as if it was premeditated to properly nurture and show true love? Why must one compartmentalized the tragic events instead of seeing that life can still flourish in a categorical fortunate way?
When my father died someone walked up to me and smiled and said sorry for your loss. The way it was said, her demeanor, disposition meant that I lost at life itself. At the cemetery someone said, I know you’re pressured and sad honey, but God only gives you what you can handle. The next person said, I know how much you loved your father the two of you were so close. Well, he won’t have to suffer no more. He’s with God now. Well I will just say that I understand ignorance and how people may demonstrate their mental deficiencies. I won’t tell you how this made me feel but it is sad to know that they really believe what they were saying was God’s truth. Unremarkable obtuse!
I haven’t lost a thing! I had a father for 50 years. A man of God, a good husband, father, friend, neighbor, a blessing to his community and a man who taught us, (my siblings and I), how to live as human beings. God does not put any burdens on me but people do. God does not give me more than I can handle but others try to. Being Jewish and a man of God my father was not suffering he remained a good Sheppard. During hospice he looked like a healthy man who deserved more of the good life. When you die where does your soul go when it separates from your body? Does anyone really knows? If he is with God, then where is that? I know it is hard to find the right words to say but I think this book will offer you the opportunity to think and choose your words appropriately and carefully. When I go to comfort someone or offer words of encouragement I just offer myself. I say shalom I just stopped over to bring you some nourishment and offer myself if you need me. So if it is OK I would like to sit with you and if you need anything just let me know. Of course I realize that people sometimes don’t want to talk or they are just numb from the ordeal. So in between silence I ask can I get you something to eat or drink. I may began to serve others or help clean up without bothering my bereaved friend or family member. When I leave I give them a hug/kiss and let them know I will call and continue to visit.
I appreciate Kushner definition of a devil’s martyr and his rationale on what purpose God serves as he offers a way to deal with tragedy. He tries to advocate the question, “does my suffering have any meaning”? He has tried to write a book that would affirm life. He explains what he constitutes a mature prayer. Prayers that are answered and give you an opportunity to understand why God can not answer certain prayers. Or why there is no magical incantations that will stop bad things from happening. I love the fact that he indicates how one can cause self-imposed suffering and how we sometimes make a bad situation worse. He quotes Deuteronomy 30:19 and offer a definition of what it actually means to be human in the image of God.
Kushner extends or recommend a different perspective. He states nature is morally blind without values not God. He says God stands for self-discipline and being a part of a family. When there are dilemma’s he gives advice and answers. He suggest how God makes a difference in one life if he does not have the power to kill or cure. He asks can you forgive Gods’ imperfections? Allowing one to think outside the box.
He also states the dead depends on us for their redemption and their immortality. It is a refreshing thought to allow the dead to be a witness for God and life as I hope I have given that to my sister and my father.
I can understand the story of Mr. Job because I have experienced life circumstances of Miss Job. But I have held on to my faith remained virtuous and have tried not to blaspheme God. I have dealt with numerous calamities, (car accidents, collapsed lungs, breast cancer, divorce, single parenting, disability and death of love ones). During my ordeals I’ve grown wiser and my test has ended and praises be to God that my restoration is forthcoming.
I recently watched Tyler Perry’s movie production, “Not Easily Broken” again. A profound movie that ended with the following anecdote.
If you want to know the purpose of a thing you can’t ask the thing to tell you. A car doesn’t know it is a car. Only the manufacturer knows what it was made to do. I guess that is the way it is with us and God.
So sometimes life turns us upside down so we can know how to live right side up.
This is proverbial wisdom and I concur!
REST IN PEACE BOBBI KRISTINA HOUSTON BROWN
Sincerely, Miss Theresa Bass Owner of ParadisicalChimes50 Ask Kalanit.
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We Fall Down – Donnie McClurkin
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