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When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

Wise and compassionate advice on how to cope with tragedy, what to do about anger and how to keep from feeling guilty.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This celebrated work of theodicy by Rabbi Kushner is more directly a work of spirituality than self-help, but it has led to a wave of titles that address nondenominational readers more directly, including Kushner's own Living a Life That Matters (LJ 8/01) and Overcoming Life's Disappointments (LJ 7/06).
Norman Vincent Peale
This is a book that all humanity needs. It will help one to understand the painful vicissitudes of this life and stand up to them creatively.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Offers a moving and humane approach to understanding life's windstorms. It raises many questions that will challenge your mind and test your faith regarding the ultimate questions of life and death.
Norman Cousins
Almost every great novelist has dealt with the theme of inexplicable illness...Harold Kushner deals with this question with deep insight and provides invaluable reassurance.
Andrew M. Greeley
A touching, heart-warming book for all those of us who must contend with suffering, and that, of course, is all of us.
Publishers Weekly
When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this book features Rabbi Kushner's perspective on how people can better deal with evil that enters their lives. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400034727
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/24/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 21,248
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold S. Kushner is the Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts. He is the author of five books.
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK

THIS is not an abstract book about God and theology. It does not try to use big words or clever ways of rephrasing questions in an effort to convince us that our problems are not really problems, but that we only think they are. This is a very personal book, written by someone who believes in God and in the goodness of the world, someone who has spent most of his life trying to help other people believe, and was compelled by a personal tragedy to rethink everything he had been taught about God and God's ways.

Our son Aaron had just passed his third birthday when our daughter Ariel was born. Aaron was a bright and happy child, who before the age of two could identify a dozen different varieties of dinosaur and could patiently explain to an adult that dinosaurs were extinct. My wife and I had been concerned about his health from the time he stopped gaining weight at the age of eight months, and from the time his hair started falling out after he turned one year old. Prominent doctors had seen him, had attached complicated names to his condition, and had assured us that he would grow to be very short but would be normal in all other ways. Just before our daughter's birth, we moved from New York to a suburb of Boston, where I became the rabbi of the local congregation We discovered that the local pediatrician was doing research in problems of children's growth, and we introduced him to Aaron. Two months later—the day our daughter was born —he visited my wife in the hospital, and told us that our son's condition was called progeria, "rapid aging." He went on to say that Aaron would never grow much beyond three feet in height, would have nohair on his head or body, would look like a little old man while he was still a child, and would die in his early teens.

How does one handle news like that? I was a young, inexperienced rabbi, not as familiar with the process of grief as I would later come to be, and what I mostly felt that day was a deep, aching sense of unfairness. It didn't make sense. I had been a good person. I had tried to do what was right in the sight of God. More than that, I was living a more religiously committed life than most people I knew, people who had large, healthy families. I believed that I was following God's ways and doing His work. How could this be happening to my family? If God existed, if He was minimally fair, let alone loving and forgiving, how could He do this to me?

And even if I could persuade myself that I deserved this punishment for some sin of neglect or pride that I was not aware of, on what grounds did Aaron have to suffer? He was an innocent child, a happy, outgoing three-year-old. Why should he have to suffer physical and psychological pain every day of his life? Why should he have to be stared at, pointed at. wherever he went? Why should he be condemned to grow into adolescence, see other boys and girls beginning to date, and realize that he would never know marriage or fatherhood? It simply didn't make sense.

Like most people, my wife and I had grown up with an image of God as an all-wise, all-powerful parent figure who would treat us as our earthly parents did, or even better. If we were obedient and deserving, He would reward us. If we got out of line, He would discipline us, reluctantly but firmly. He would protect us from being hurt or from hurting ourselves, and would see to it that we got what we deserved in life.

Like most people, I was aware of the human tragedies that darkened the landscape—the young people who died in car crashes, the cheerful, loving people wasted by crippling diseases, the neighbors and relatives whose retarded or men tally ill children people spoke of in hushed tones. But that awareness never drove me to wonder about God's justice, or to question His fairness. I assumed that He knew more about the world than I did.

Then came that day in the hospital when the doctor told us about Aaron and explained what progeria meant. It contradicted everything I had been taught. I could only repeat over and over again in my mind, "This can't be happening. It is not how the world is supposed to work." Tragedies like this were supposed to happen to selfish, dishonest people whom I, as a rabbi, would then try to comfort by assuring them of God's forgiving love. How could it be happening to me, to my son, if what I believed about the world was true?

I read recently about an Israeli mother who, every year on her son s birthday, would leave the birthday party, go into the privacy of her bedroom, and cry, because her son was now one year closer to military service, one year closer to putting his life in danger, possibly one year closer to making her one of the thousands of Israeli parents who would have to stand at the grave of a child fallen in battle. I read that, and I knew exactly how she felt. Every year, on Aaron's birthday, my wife and I would celebrate. We would rejoice in his growing up and growing in skill. But we would be gripped by the cold foreknowledge that another year's passing brought us closer to the day when he would be taken from us.

I knew then that one day I would write this book. 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 &d themselves in a similar predicament. I would write it for all those people who wanted to go on believing, but whose anger at God made it hard for them to hold on to their faith and be comforted by religion. And I would write it for all those people whose love for God and devotion to Him led them to blame themselves for their suffering and persuade themselves that they deserved it.

There were not many books, as there were not many people, to help us when Aaron was living and dying. Friends tried, and were helpful, but how much could they really do? And the books I turned to were more concerned with defending God's honor, with logical proof that bad is really good and that evil is necessary to make this a good world, than they were with curing the bewilderment and the anguish of the parent of a dying child. They had answers to all of their own questions, but no answer for mine.

I hope that this book is not like those. I did not set out to write a book that would defend or explain God. There is no need to duplicate the many treatises already on the shelves, and even if there were, I am not a formally trained philosopher. 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—by death, by illness or injury, by rejection or disappointment—and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better. What can God mean to such a person? Where can he turn for strength and hope? 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.

If I ever find my book bogging down in technical theological explanations and ignoring the human pain which should be its subject, I hope that the memory of why I set out to write it will pull me back on course. Aaron died two days after his fourteenth birthday. This is his book, because any attempt to make sense of the world's pain and evil will be judged a success or a failure based on whether it offers an acceptable explanation of why he and we had to undergo what we did. And it is his book in another sense as well—because his life made it possible, and because his death made it necessary.

Copyright ) 1981 by Harold S. Kushner

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Table of Contents

Introduction : why I wrote this book 3
1 Why do the righteous suffer? 9
2 The story of a man named Job 36
3 Sometimes there is no reason 53
4 No exceptions for nice people 64
5 God leaves us room to be human 81
6 God helps those who stop hurting themselves 97
7 God can't do everything, but he can do some important things 125
8 What good, then, is religion? 145
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Introduction

Introduction

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK

THIS is not an abstract book about God and theology. It does not try to use big words or clever ways of rephrasing questions in an effort to convince us that our problems are not really problems, but that we only think they are. This is a very personal book, written by someone who believes in God and in the goodness of the world, someone who has spent most of his life trying to help other people believe, and was compelled by a personal tragedy to rethink everything he had been taught about God and God's ways.

Our son Aaron had just passed his third birthday when our daughter Ariel was born. Aaron was a bright and happy child, who before the age of two could identify a dozen different varieties of dinosaur and could patiently explain to an adult that dinosaurs were extinct. My wife and I had been concerned about his health from the time he stopped gaining weight at the age of eight months, and from the time his hair started falling out after he turned one year old. Prominent doctors had seen him, had attached complicated names to his condition, and had assured us that he would grow to be very short but would be normal in all other ways. Just before our daughter's birth, we moved from New York to a suburb of Boston, where I became the rabbi of the local congregation We discovered that the local pediatrician was doing research in problems of children's growth, and we introduced him to Aaron. Two months later--the day our daughter was born --he visited my wife in the hospital, and told us that our son's condition was called progeria, "rapid aging." He went on to say that Aaron would never grow much beyond three feet in height, would have no hair on his head or body, would look like a little old man while he was still a child, and would die in his early teens.

How does one handle news like that? I was a young, inexperienced rabbi, not as familiar with the process of grief as I would later come to be, and what I mostly felt that day was a deep, aching sense of unfairness. It didn't make sense. I had been a good person. I had tried to do what was right in the sight of God. More than that, I was living a more religiously committed life than most people I knew, people who had large, healthy families. I believed that I was following God's ways and doing His work. How could this be happening to my family? If God existed, if He was minimally fair, let alone loving and forgiving, how could He do this to me?

And even if I could persuade myself that I deserved this punishment for some sin of neglect or pride that I was not aware of, on what grounds did Aaron have to suffer? He was an innocent child, a happy, outgoing three-year-old. Why should he have to suffer physical and psychological pain every day of his life? Why should he have to be stared at, pointed at. wherever he went? Why should he be condemned to grow into adolescence, see other boys and girls beginning to date, and realize that he would never know marriage or fatherhood? It simply didn't make sense.

Like most people, my wife and I had grown up with an image of God as an all-wise, all-powerful parent figure who would treat us as our earthly parents did, or even better. If we were obedient and deserving, He would reward us. If we got out of line, He would discipline us, reluctantly but firmly. He would protect us from being hurt or from hurting ourselves, and would see to it that we got what we deserved in life.

Like most people, I was aware of the human tragedies that darkened the landscape--the young people who died in car crashes, the cheerful, loving people wasted by crippling diseases, the neighbors and relatives whose retarded or men tally ill children people spoke of in hushed tones. But that awareness never drove me to wonder about God's justice, or to question His fairness. I assumed that He knew more about the world than I did.

Then came that day in the hospital when the doctor told us about Aaron and explained what progeria meant. It contradicted everything I had been taught. I could only repeat over and over again in my mind, "This can't be happening. It is not how the world is supposed to work." Tragedies like this were supposed to happen to selfish, dishonest people whom I, as a rabbi, would then try to comfort by assuring them of God's forgiving love. How could it be happening to me, to my son, if what I believed about the world was true?

I read recently about an Israeli mother who, every year on her son s birthday, would leave the birthday party, go into the privacy of her bedroom, and cry, because her son was now one year closer to military service, one year closer to putting his life in danger, possibly one year closer to making her one of the thousands of Israeli parents who would have to stand at the grave of a child fallen in battle. I read that, and I knew exactly how she felt. Every year, on Aaron's birthday, my wife and I would celebrate. We would rejoice in his growing up and growing in skill. But we would be gripped by the cold foreknowledge that another year's passing brought us closer to the day when he would be taken from us.

I knew then that one day I would write this book. 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 &d themselves in a similar predicament. I would write it for all those people who wanted to go on believing, but whose anger at God made it hard for them to hold on to their faith and be comforted by religion. And I would write it for all those people whose love for God and devotion to Him led them to blame themselves for their suffering and persuade themselves that they deserved it.

There were not many books, as there were not many people, to help us when Aaron was living and dying. Friends tried, and were helpful, but how much could they really do? And the books I turned to were more concerned with defending God's honor, with logical proof that bad is really good and that evil is necessary to make this a good world, than they were with curing the bewilderment and the anguish of the parent of a dying child. They had answers to all of their own questions, but no answer for mine.

I hope that this book is not like those. I did not set out to write a book that would defend or explain God. There is no need to duplicate the many treatises already on the shelves, and even if there were, I am not a formally trained philosopher. 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--by death, by illness or injury, by rejection or disappointment--and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better. What can God mean to such a person? Where can he turn for strength and hope? 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.

If I ever find my book bogging down in technical theological explanations and ignoring the human pain which should be its subject, I hope that the memory of why I set out to write it will pull me back on course. Aaron died two days after his fourteenth birthday. This is his book, because any attempt to make sense of the world's pain and evil will be judged a success or a failure based on whether it offers an acceptable explanation of why he and we had to undergo what we did. And it is his book in another sense as well--because his life made it possible, and because his death made it necessary.

Copyright ) 1981 by Harold S. Kushner

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Foreword

1. What is wrong, according to Kushner, with the quotations from the Bible on page 12? Such teachings tell us that God is in control and makes things happen for a reason; why does Kushner disagree with the perspective they express?

2. What does Kushner mean when he says, “Chaos is evil” [p. 61]?

3. Throughout the book, Kushner emphasizes the role of community in bringing people through their worst pain and grief. He mentions Jewish traditions like the meal of replenishment and the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish [p. 133], which shift the focus away from grief and death and back to life. Why is this idea so important, and why is it so often overlooked by people who are suffering from a loss?

4. What is the main message of the prayer written by Jack Riemer [pp. 130–31]? How does it differ from the kinds of prayers people often pray, like asking God for acceptance to a certain college or asking for a relative to get well? How is it similar to or different from the prayer of Jacob, discussed on pages 136–37?

5. Do the ideas expressed in When Bad Things Happen to Good People apply equally well to private and public tragedy—say, one person’s death from cancer as opposed to the massive loss of life that took place on September 11, 2001, or the devastation of the 2003 earthquake in Iran? How might these ideas affect a reader’s moral understanding of history’s worst events?

6. Why is the story of Job so important to this book? What insight does Kushner bring to the story?

7. Kushner writes, “I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because Irealize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things” [p. 147]. Does it make sense that God is not an active agent in human misfortune? Why do most people think that God is responsible for the bad things that happen to us?

8. The idea that suffering has no meaning is “the most significant challenge that can be offered to the point of view I have been advocating in this book” [p. 148]. How does Kushner come to terms with this problem?

9. What is the wisdom in Kushner’s suggestion that we should always focus on looking forward, asking ourselves, “Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?” [p. 149]

10. Kushner writes, “There is a crucial difference between denying the tragedy, insisting that everything is for the best, and seeing the tragedy in the context of a whole life, keeping one’s eye and mind on what has enriched you and not only on what you have lost” [p. 153]. Why is this shift in perspective so important?

11. “The facts of life and death are neutral. We, by our responses, give suffering either a positive or a negative meaning” [p. 151]. How central is this statement to the book’s overall argument?

12. Kushner says that he would give up all of the wisdom and sensitivity that he gained through his own suffering in order to be “the father of a bright, happy boy” [p. 147]. If Kushner’s son had lived, it is unlikely he would have written this book. Kushner argues that suffering is not ennobling, yet his readers might argue that in his case it was. What is the creative potential of tragic experience?

13. If you could summarize in a sentence or two how this book has changed your perspective on the most difficult problems you face, what would you say? What inspiration does the book offer for you?

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What is wrong, according to Kushner, with the quotations from the Bible on page 12? Such teachings tell us that God is in control and makes things happen for a reason; why does Kushner disagree with the perspective they express?

2. What does Kushner mean when he says, “Chaos is evil” [p. 61]?

3. Throughout the book, Kushner emphasizes the role of community in bringing people through their worst pain and grief. He mentions Jewish traditions like the meal of replenishment and the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish [p. 133], which shift the focus away from grief and death and back to life. Why is this idea so important, and why is it so often overlooked by people who are suffering from a loss?

4. What is the main message of the prayer written by Jack Riemer [pp. 130–31]? How does it differ from the kinds of prayers people often pray, like asking God for acceptance to a certain college or asking for a relative to get well? How is it similar to or different from the prayer of Jacob, discussed on pages 136–37?

5. Do the ideas expressed in When Bad Things Happen to Good People apply equally well to private and public tragedy—say, one person’s death from cancer as opposed to the massive loss of life that took place on September 11, 2001, or the devastation of the 2003 earthquake in Iran? How might these ideas affect a reader’s moral understanding of history’s worst events?

6. Why is the story of Job so important to this book? What insight does Kushner bring to the story?

7. Kushner writes, “I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because I realize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things” [p. 147]. Does it make sense that God is not an active agent in human misfortune? Why do most people think that God is responsible for the bad things that happen to us?

8. The idea that suffering has no meaning is “the most significant challenge that can be offered to the point of view I have been advocating in this book” [p. 148]. How does Kushner come to terms with this problem?

9. What is the wisdom in Kushner’s suggestion that we should always focus on looking forward, asking ourselves, “Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?” [p. 149]

10. Kushner writes, “There is a crucial difference between denying the tragedy, insisting that everything is for the best, and seeing the tragedy in the context of a whole life, keeping one’s eye and mind on what has enriched you and not only on what you have lost” [p. 153]. Why is this shift in perspective so important?

11. “The facts of life and death are neutral. We, by our responses, give suffering either a positive or a negative meaning” [p. 151]. How central is this statement to the book’s overall argument?

12. Kushner says that he would give up all of the wisdom and sensitivity that he gained through his own suffering in order to be “the father of a bright, happy boy” [p. 147]. If Kushner’s son had lived, it is unlikely he would have written this book. Kushner argues that suffering is not ennobling, yet his readers might argue that in his case it was. What is the creative potential of tragic experience?

13. If you could summarize in a sentence or two how this book has changed your perspective on the most difficult problems you face, what would you say? What inspiration does the book offer for you?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 75 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2009

    For anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one, especially to diseases like cancer where suffering is devastating to the patient and his/her family.

    When my Mom died from cancer, after a long fight, a close friend recommended this and gave me a copy. Our church, main stream Protestant, givs it to our members as a gift after a death, although it is written by a Rabbi and has an Old Testament outlook. Nothing has helped more people deal with loss, in my experience, than this book.

    .

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    When I was going through a deep depression before/after my mother died, I read this book. It helped to move me beyond the deep loss I was feeling and brought me to a place where I began to accept that Bad things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2005

    Restored My Sanity

    I was floundering, wondering if I could ever trust God again with the safety of my family after the death of my 19 year old son in a collision with a drunk driver. I did not understand why God did not protect Christopher, after all,I prayed constantly for his safety. I could not see how any sin I may have committed was so bad as to cause another person to lose their life. I could not reason how my son's death could benefit the world in some great Master Plan. I was SO SO angry with God until I read Kushner's book. I now realize that God cried too when Chris died. The man who killed him had free will and chose to drive drunk. He was driving a vehicle much older and larger than my son's Honda Civic. The laws of nature took over. This book does not go against God in any way -- it reaffirms God's love for us and his wishes for our safety. And it literally saved my life.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2007

    Thought Provoking Read

    Rabbi Kushner's writing style and brilliant ability to show contrast with real life situations creates an eagerness to read on and an insatiable need to learn more. From the tone of this book it leads you to assume that Rabbi Kushner is just a lovable human being, rich in modesty and humility. This is a very short book which will be of value for both religious and non religious people. Whether religious or not, Rabbi Kushner's book has the ability to put a new prayer or creed in your heart, and will also enlighten you to not lose sight of the meaning of life in your life. People need not wait for some tragedy to come along to pick up this book. Personally, I am not currently dealing with a loss however, after completing this book I feel more prepared to take on the burden of coping with any unfortunate occurrences, which the future may hold. I bought this book to enable me to pass on comforting words to people close to me which were going through some tough times in their life. The majority of the readers of this book has mis-interpreted this book primarily from the misquoting of the title of the book. If you get the title wrong then this book will not serve its proper purpose to you. If you seek a bridge to the New Testament read Melvin Tinker's 'Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People'. In Tinker's 'Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People' you will find a more expanded interpretation of the Book of Job and other important passages in the New Testament that delivers what Kushner could not due to his commitment and belief in the Jewish faith. In my judgment, the two merged will give you a wider scope of learning.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    When Bad Things Happen to Good People

    This is an excellent book. I have read this twice. It is good after some life setbacks such as deaths, loss of property, money issues, and marital problems.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2001

    Intellectually Honest, Yet Sensitive and Thoughtful

    It was Kushner's great insight to see that people who are caught in tragic circumstances not of their own making usually get stuck in some version of the dilemma: if God is all-powerful, why do tragedies occur? On the other hand, if God is not all-powerful, of what use is this no-longer-supreme deity to us? Patiently, and with great wisdom, Kushner sorts through issues of God and grace. I'm a Protestant but I got more out of this book than years of Sunday School. 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People' may be a little oversimplified in places but it's a great place to start--especially if you're mad at God!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    Life Changing

    One of the best books that I have ever read. Not only for the wounded, but also for the healer. Not only for the mourner, but also for the comforter. Not only for Christians or Jews (I am neither) but for those of any faith. Not only for the heart but also for the mind.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    A Classic Kushner Book for those coping with loss

    We have given this book to many friends, who found it insightful and inspiring when going through the most difficult of times.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2004

    'There are better works to understand God's ways...'

    Dr. Kushner was well-intentioned in his authorship of this book to be sure. However, his basic conclusion is that God is either all-powerful or all-loving. Since bad things happen, God isn't all powerful. The theology is faulty. As Christ was fully God, and still fully human, so God can be loving and powerful without losing either attribute. God's power never works outside His perfect will, and sometimes that will permits evil. A much better book on endurance through adversity is 'With Joseph in the University of Adversity'. This book will answer most questions Kushner poses from a much more conservative and scriptural point of view.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Best book ever written on the subject of loss, and trying to make sense of it.

    Best book ever written on the subject of loss, and trying to make sense of it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

    I found this book to be very helpful

    Regardless of your religion, I think this book can be very helpful in gaining a better understanding of God, your "Higher Power" or whatever name you use. I found that the author provides logical explanations that have allowed me to find the answers to many questions I have had. The real-life examples that he uses make it easier to understand the concepts he is discussing. In addition to helping me to better understand how God works, this book will be invaluable to me as I try to comfort others who experience loss.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2004

    Left me cold...and uncomforted

    I bought this book because it came with very high recommendations. 'Best selling....4 million copies sold!' Well I started reading, and half way through the book, I found myself not only not comforted in any way, but a bit irritated that many of the thoughts and beliefs that I hold were batted down as unimportant, or untrue according to Mr. Kushner. I was, quite frankly, surprised that this book was not more compassionate since he obviously writes from a place of knowing firsthand about loss and tragedy. It may work for some, but this book left me cold.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    This book changed my life!

    I was hit by a drunk driver and injured. The pain was terrible, and the doctors couldn't find the cause. Life was so hard, and there was no pleasure. I barely kept my business going and had some not very happy clients in the process as I struggled to do that which was required. A friend recommended this book. Not only did it provide the support I needed at the time, it clarified for me the role of God in our lives. How many times I hear people say things implying that bad things happened to them because they fell short somehow. Kushner banishes such thinking. Our trials and challenges are not due to our own short-comings or to an ever-watchful and harsh God who punishes us. The only short-coming we can really have is forgetting to turn to God when bad things do happen.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2001

    The First Reasonable Answers

    This is the first time I have read or heard a reasonable answer to the recurring questions of, if there is a God why does he permit these things to happen and why does he choose to ignore my prayers for help? So much common sense and wisdom in such a small book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2000

    KEEP YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AWARE OF YOUR FEELINGS

    At a time when I wanted to get into bed and shut the world out Kushner reminds us of the importance of communication. Communication with our family, friends and faith. God bless him and anyone who needs answers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2000

    The best book i've ever read

    This book was great. i didn't believe in God before i read this book. it helped me spiritually and it has made me a better person. everyone should read this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    A wonderful book

    I was going through a tough time trying to accept that the dearest person I knew had been dignosed with Alzhimers. I was given this book and it changed the way I viewed life, death and my relationship with G-d. I aways keep a copy or two of this book just to give away. It is a wondeful book. A must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Great book!

    Heartfelt writing from the author!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Compassionate and Wise

    The only words that have ever come close to helping make sense out of the senseless things that happen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An Oldie But A Goodie

    I first read this many years ago. Ordered several to give to friends who are facing troubling issues and questioning God's place in their lives. Kushner's explanations make such good sense to me. I highly recommend reading this again and again.


    I also recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score" for anyone who feels bound by their anger, guilt, hurt or pain. I thought that the book was just about forgiveness, I soon learned, it was about so much more than that. It was about how you should deal with friends, family and yourself and more importantly, how to keep these relationships strong when things go wrong.

    Having read it, I feel like a better person. Maybe because this book spoke to me and not down to me. I have read a lot of books that was written like I didn't know anything. What the author of "When God Stopped Keeping Score" does is talk to you like a friend. I needed that. You will understand why when you read it. It is on sale here on BN.com.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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