When Bad Things Happen to Good People

1. Why do the righteous suffer? [pages 6-30]

"It is tempting at one level to believe that bad things happen to people (especially other people) because God is a righteous judge who gives them what they deserve. By believing that, we keep the world orderly and understandable." [page 9]

"It was hard [for the woman in Kushner's example] to live with multiple sclerosis, but it was even harder to live with the idea that things happened to people for no reason, that God had lost touch with the world and nobody was in the driver's seat." [page 16]

Kushner outlines the various ways that people try to salvage their view of God and His orderly world. They explain that misfortune occurs because

  1. Someone made a mistake, or failed in the observance of some religious duty.
  2. God has a hidden purpose, or is making use of knowledge we don't have.
  3. Suffering itself will turn out to be good for us.
  4. God's purpose is in the grand design of the Universe (which is good and beautiful), not in the life of the individual.
  5. Suffering teaches something, either to us or to those who see us suffer.
  6. Suffering is a test.
  7. Death leads us and our loved ones to a better place.
Kushner rejects all of these explanations.

"All the responses to tragedy which we have considered have at least one thing in common. They all assume that God is the cause of our suffering, and they try to understand why God would want us to suffer. There may be another approach. Maybe God does not cause our suffering. Maybe it happens for some reason other than the will of God." [page 29]

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