Hoping for More:
Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace
is a story of a young religion professor with a stage IV cancer diagnosis and a lousy prognosis for the future. Amid the grief and the grace of her fractured life, this theologian — who is also a wife, a mother, daughter, sister and friend — searches for words adequate to express her faltering faith.
More Anne Lamott meets Harold Kushner than the teller of a pious, God-saved-me-from-cancer tale, Thompson unpacks the messy realities that arise when faith and suffering collide.
Deanna A. Thompson
is a Professor of Religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota,
and the author of Crossing the Divide: Luther, Feminism, and the Cross.
She lives with her husband and two daughters in St. Paul.
From the foreword, by Krista Tippet
“We tend to use words like ‘miracle’ and ‘mystery’ in the context of serendipity. In this frank and eloquent account of life transformed by cancer, Deanna Thompson explores these articles of faith as they are also wont to appear — on the hard edges of hope and the dark side of joy.”
I have known Deanna Thompson since we were both studying at Yale Divinity School in the early 1990s. She was a few years younger and headed for a career in academia. I was struck by the purity of her intelligence and joy. Then, we met again in Minnesota, where we both landed. I remember musing to myself at the good fortune of her students at Hamline University, where she became a professor. “Getting paid to talk about God is a pretty sweet deal,” she writes, as this book opens. Her delight in the work of theology and the art of teaching was always evident and infectious.
The new conversation with God that she began after her diagnosis of Stage IV cancer is a conversation that countless people are having in our time. Medicine is sometimes in the business of documentable miracles, and maybe it will cure cancer one day. But for now, cancer in all its variety is a rampant reminder to modernity that we are mortal. Still, when it strikes a person as young and beautiful as Deanna Thompson, as full of promise, as beloved and necessary to her husband, young daughters, friends, and students, none of us can help but ask why.