When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Rabbi Kushner’s struggle with life’s realities and his spiritual beliefs.
After Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s three year old son was diagnosed with propria (premature aging, usually fatal before puberty), he was faced with the challenge of how to keep his spiritual beliefs. How could the G-d he loved so dearly take away his son? How could he allow an innocent child to die? This book explores his struggles to understand how the loving G-d he believed in could do that to his son and to his family.
Rabbi Kushner’s perspective is that of a Jewish minister, but the book is written to an audience with diverse religious backgrounds. Anyone with spiritual beliefs will find his insight to be meaningful. When Bad Things Happen to Good People spends a great deal of time talking about the survivors and how their losses help to shape their lives from that point forward. There is also some discussion of why the particular people died or had these things happen, but less so.
The Orthodox Jewish and Evangelical Christian movements felt that When Bad Things Happen to Good People questioned the omnipotence of G-d. His belief that G-d is unable to prevent the calamities in our lives, but instead only to give the strength to survive them made many people angry with him. Despite this, Rabbi Kushner’s book spent many months on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.
It’s not light reading, but it’s definitely serious food for thought. If you’re looking for a book to help you through a difficult time, this may be it.
Narrated by Rabbi Kushner, the reading is best described as adequate.