- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Schocken; Anniversary edition (September 4, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805241930
- ISBN-13: 978-0805241938
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 866 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, with a New Preface by the Author Anniversary Edition
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“Whether religious or not, this book will speak because it touches–profoundly, but simply–on questions no parent and no person can avoid.” —Harvey Cox, Harvard Divinity School
“When Bad Things Happen to Good People offers a moving and humane approach to understanding life’s windstorms.” —Elisabeth KŸbler-Ross
“A touching, heartwarming book for those of us who must contend with suffering, and that, of course, is all of us.” —Andrew M. Greeley
“This is a book all humanity needs. It will help you understand the painful vicissitudes of this life and enable you to stand up to them creatively.” —Norman Vincent Peale
From the Inside Flap
As a young theology student, Harold Kushner puzzled over the Book of Job. As a small-town rabbi he counseled other people through pain and grief. But not until he learned that his three-year-old son, Aaron, would die in his early teens of a rare disease did he confront one of life's most difficult questions: Where do we find the resources to cope when tragedy strikes?
"I knew that one day I would write this book," says Rabbi Kushner. "I would write it out of my own need to put into words some of the most important things I have come to believe and know. And I would write it to help other people who might one day find themselves in a similar predicament. I am fundamentally a religious man who has been hurt by life, and I wanted to write a book that could be given to the person who has been hurt by life, and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better. . . . If you are such a person, if you want to believe in God's goodness and fairness but find it hard because of the things that have happened to you and to people you care about, and if this book helps you do that, then I will have succeeded in distilling some blessing out of Aaron's pain and tears."
Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions. In his new preface to this anniversary edition, Rabbi Kushner relates the heartwarming responses he has received over the last two decades from people who have found inspiration and comfort within these pages.
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To be clear, I gave this book five stars not because I agree with the author's conclusions, but because it is particularly well-written and it presents an important point of view that at least should enter the conversation of any theological discussion.
And I would not want to taint a ratings system of any product simply because I draw different conclusions. For example: I would rate Karl Marx' The Communist Manifesto with five stars too, even though I disagree strongly with its philosophy.
I hope reviewers rate MY books - including the one above - the same way. Quality of writing, not just agreement or disagreement with the message.
Back to Harold Kushner's book: essentially, he writes that because bad things happen to good people, the reasons have to be either that God is all-powerful but not all good (otherwise, Kushner reasons, why would he let good people suffer?), or God is all-good but not all-powerful, and thus he can't control if bad things happen to good people. Kushner chooses to believe the latter, seemingly by default.
I cannot fathom an all-good Creator of the Entire Universe being too overwhelmed to prevent tragedy.
Kushner touched on a great point early in the book, which I think should've been the foundation of his reasoning: the example of how someone unfamiliar with the concept of surgery would walk into an operating room and think it was a masked band of criminals torturing a poor victim.
Similarly, maybe our limited brains cannot fathom that the things we consider suffering may have a meaning we cannot grasp in this phase of our existence. Speculative? Sure, but at least it's more logical (to this reviewer) than a God who, like President Warren G. Harding, wanted good things to happen but was powerless in achieving them.