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Book Club: Everything Happens For A Reason, Chapter 9

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club!  We are reading Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler.  Catch up on Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, and Chapter 8.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 9: Ordinary Time

Commentary by Carol Anne P.:

I really didn’t like this book the first time I read it, so what possessed me to read it a second time and agree to write about it is anyone’s guess.

I suppose I should first confess to you that I am a lost and found, cradle Catholic, aching with the bewilderment and deep feeling of loss I have grappled with over these last nine years, the last three in particular. The concept of the prosperity gospel makes me angry. What could I possibly have done in these 46 years of my life that would doom me to the horrors of these last nine years? Do we really believe in a God so vengeful he would smite us with disease and death? 

But, reading this time around I’ve gone back to church, gone to confession, I’ve even joined the church choir. I feel less bewildered, less estranged from God, but still, this life living in the in-between is hard. But, nine years later I am still here and that’s not nothing. There is an acceptance in this chapter that I have yet to reach. I too live in the every-two-month, life in between universe. On this read, I sobbed my way through this chapter. I was incredibly angry the first time around. I thought to myself, so he will raise you up on the last day, but where is he during the fall; this fear-filled life in between spent facing our mortality on an all-too-often basis? Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet made peace or found a way to understand or answer this question even now that I am back to church. I suppose you could say during the fall he is in the people who are there for us at scans and treatments and appointments during which we learn which way the pendulum has swung. I suppose you could say he is in the moments of comfort and clarity that wash over us from time-to-time. I believe the author writes with faith, that though questioning and analytical, is still intact. There’s still a lot about this book that I don’t like, or more precisely, don’t agree with but in this second, and honestly third, (I went back and re-read this chapter before writing this tonight) I find myself raging less of God, the author, the circumstances that brought us all to this book, and something closer to maybe acknowledgment that there are no answers in the universe and I suppose we are just going to have to be okay with that for now.


Commentary by Leasha T.:

“Chapter 9, “Ordinary Time,” is probably one of my favorites in this book, purely because of how incredibly relatable it is to me. Although I am not religious as an adult, I was raised an evangelical Christian, so all of Bowler’s references, when she spoke about her experience at the Biblical “theme park” in Orlando, was straight from my childhood. The way she thinks about life, death, and her faith resembles the struggles of many close to me, people who are trying to rationalize why bad things happen in spite of a higher power they believe in. I think those questions are ones many ask, regardless of faith. Why do some suffer and some do not? I don’t know that we will ever have an answer to that question, but I do know that it has been helpful to expand my outlook past questions like that to include asking questions like, “I’m here today, what can I do to bring myself and those around me love, health, and happiness?”
Another thing that resonated with me was her experience with scan anxiety. I know so many of us know that feeling all too well. As Bowler said, it never gets easier. She commented on how she has a scan, it comes back clear, and she thinks, “two more months to live.” I am still trying to get around how to live more than 3-6 months at a time, and it takes more courage than I’d like to admit to be able to make long term plans. I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on these and other topics surrounding this chapter, as well as things that have helped you be able to look juggle “living for today” but also being able to find hope and make plans for the future.”

Join in next Monday for the final step of this round of the young adult cancer book club!

Thanks for joining us for Chapter 9: Ordinary Time of  Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler! Join in next Monday for the final step of this round of the young adult cancer book club!

We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done.  If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday.  Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end!  Join in, in the comments every week!  Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!

Excited about the young adult cancer book club?  Have any suggestions for future reads?  Let us know!