A touching tale of battling cancer set against the backdrop of the prosperity gospel.
Bowler (Duke Divinity School; Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, 2013), a specialist in the study of the prosperity gospel, found her life turned upside down in her mid-30s with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. Here, she chronicles her journey from what seemed a death sentence to a lifestyle of living from one medical test to another, surviving as a result of the effects of a clinical trial and a stalwart community of friends and family. Throughout, the author delivers raw emotion, realistic description, and candid assessments, and she weaves in references to the faith system she has studied and, indeed, of which she has become a community member. Bowler points out the ironies of fighting a deadly battle against her own body while relating to a strand of Christianity that teaches that faith, holiness, and confidence will provide any sort of blessing or healing the believer needs. From Oprah to Osteen, Bowler examines the effects of such preaching upon people of faith, including the depth of turmoil that true tragedy often brings. The author sees her cancer story unfold in liturgical terms, using Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time to explain her journey. Ultimately, in Ordinary Time (the bulk of the church year), she discovers the power of being present in life, enjoying her family, and finding meaning where she is able. Bowler’s reflections will speak to those who have suffered similar illnesses and existential crises, and secondary themes abound: the inhumane and often emotionless face of modern health care, the capacity of family and close friends to give of themselves through love and generosity, the well-meaning but foolish things that people say to those who are living with serious health issues, and more.
An inspiring story of finding faith—in God, in family, and in oneself—while walking close to the valley of the shadow of death.