Angela was the first. She was not the first I knew with cancer but she was the first I knew while serving a local church. A tumor invaded her abdomen and despite radical treatment she left a husband and two young children. That was more than 25 years ago.
Early on you learn to mimic what you hear said in these very difficult circumstances. After all most of the time one struggles to find the words, any words, that would sound helpful.
It may seem odd that a pastor would suggest it a struggle to find the right words. After all, our vocation is about words. Sometimes we use too many words.
When the memorials and funerals have passed we are left thinking about our words. I have winced a time or two as I replay conversations with family members of those who suffered with cancer. It is not that I chose my size 11 shoes to nibble but that in those quiet reflective moments where you think theologically about what was said, you think to yourself, “Did I really say that? I know what I meant and I am confident I did not convey what I hoped.”
I thought about those I have known who suffered from cancer and those who live with the threat of its return as I read Cancer and Theology. I recall conversations with family members in the aftermath of both long endurances and short sudden losses. My conclusion is that Jake and Erik have gifted the church, those who face life’s arbitraries trusting in a real God that does real things in the world, with a book of 16 essays offering different theologies of cancer. That’s right, theologies.
Jake does not intend his journey with cancer to be the centerpiece for this project. But that he understands the need and value for a conversation about cancer and theology was apparent long before he invited the included reflections. Jake chronicled his journey in word and video. It may be odd to read but we are the richer for it.
Cancer courses through life with very few predictable elements. One size does not fit all. Our responses most assuredly are as varied as the types of cancers themselves. You will find that apparent as you read the diverse essays.
Click over and purchase a copy of Cancer and Theology. You will be challenged as you read. And, you part of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Jake sent me a copy to read. We have had virtual connections for some time. He did not require a review. I gave one anyway.
Thank you Jake and Erik for the fruits of your project.