Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently released his 2018 summer reading list recommendations, which includes a memoir from an former advocate of the prosperity gospel.
Gates’ past reading lists have included various faith-based books, and this year, “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler made the cut.
“When Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she sets out to understand why it happened. Is it a test of her character? The result is a heartbreaking, surprisingly funny memoir about faith and coming to grips with your own mortality,” reads Gates’ description of the memoir (in a separate post, he offers a more in-depth synopsis of professor’s memoir).
“Bowler was 35 years old, married to her high-school sweetheart, and raising their young son when she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer,” he writes. “When she got sick, she didn’t want to know what was making her body’s cells mutate and multiply out of control. She had deeper questions: ‘Why me? Is this a test of my character?'”
Her title might be a giveaway, but in her book, Bowler explains how before she got sick there were certain aspects of the so-called “prosperity gospel” that she believed. She believed that “God would make a way,” regardless of what was going on around her.
But after she got sick, she dropped her belief in the prosperity gospel, particularly the idea that God rewards those who are faithful with wealth and health.
“Given the topic, I wasn’t surprised to find that Bowler’s book is heartbreaking at times. But I didn’t expect it to be funny too. Sometimes it’s both in the same passage,” Gates writes in his review.
“The central questions in this book really resonated with me,” he continues. “On one hand, it’s nihilistic to think that every outcome is simply random. I have to believe that the world is better when we act morally, and that people who do good things deserve a somewhat better fate on average than those who don’t.”
Gates has touched on faith in the past, pointing out that “it makes sense to believe in God,” but never really addressing what that meant for him personally. He has also spoken before about members of his extended family who believe those who become sick are being punished by God.
“All four of my grandparents were deeply devout members of a Christian sect that believed that if you got sick, it must be because you did something to deserve it. When one of my grandfathers became seriously ill, he struggled to figure out what he might have done wrong. He couldn’t think of anything, so he blamed his wife. He died thinking she had caused his illness by committing some unknown sin,” Gates wrote.
The Microsoft founder commended Bowler for not giving “pat answers or magic solutions” about religion, and said he liked the way she continued to write about “faith, morality, and mortality.”
Back in February, Bowler was interviewed by Brian Lamb on C-SPAN’s “Q&A” where she discussed her abandoned beliefs in the prosperity gospel and her belief in healing.
“I’ve had a lot of people pray for me similarly and as a Christian, I believe that Christianity has a very long tradition of divine healing. So I certainly don’t think that it’s not possible for God to heal people,” she said.
Bowler was responding to a question about whether or not she believed in divine healing. The C-SPAN host had shown her a video of controversial televangelist Benny Hinn, who prayed for healing for a woman suffering from cancer.
“But you can see how quickly he moved from praying for her, he as the anointed vessel of God, and then his confidence in himself as that vehicle, and then the idea because she did not have pain in that moment she’s definitely healed,” she added.
In addition to his list, Gates created a funny, artistic video describing the books he chose. He used dogs to illustrate each plot line. Take a look:
(H/T: The Christian Post)