News, Reading Guides, VOLUME 12

Becoming People of the Truth [A Reading List]

It’s becoming abundantly clear that in the coming electoral season in the United States, Christians regardless of their political inclinations will have to double down on our commitment as people of the Truth. And yet at the same time, I am being reminded at every turn that truth is always more complicated than we want it to be, not fitting neatly into a soundbite or political platform. 

I once heard Stanley Hauerwas say that all of Christian ethics can be boiled down to two words: “Don’t lie.” And yet certainty evades us, and the best we can do is to bear witness with our lives to the one who called himself Truth, despite our struggles to understand what he was about.

I’ve been wrestling with these questions recently, and offer here the stack of books that are serving as guides on this journey.

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved

Kate Bowler

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.


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