When Breath Becomes Air – Christianity Today Review

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When Breath Becomes Air – Christianity Today Review

Last week, Christianity Today released my review article of Paul Kalanithi’s amazing book, When Breath Becomes Air. He was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer when he was 35. In the midst of the shadow of death placed upon him, he found his life invigorated in new and profound ways. Most reviews of his book have not highlighted his faith. But when you look for it, the book portrays a renewal and rediscovery of Christian hope.

From the review:

“With story after story, Kalanithi shows how our ambitions to ‘save the world’ run up against sharp limits. Our responses to shocking pain and evil are never enough, and we are likely to lose family, vocation, and perhaps even the desire to live if we do not honestly face our creaturely limits.

Yet Kalanithi goes further, pointing to the One who can face the problem of death. Though ‘raised in a devout Christian family,’ he—’like most scientific types’—came to believe in a material, scientific worldview with no need for God. But he came to recognize this as a kind of idolatry, for science cannot comprehend ‘love, hate, meaning,’ or, most of all, God. ‘Scientific methodology,’ he writes, ‘is the product of human hands and thus cannot reach some permanent truth.’ Science is useful, but limited. Like medicine, it is a helpful servant. But as a master, it will leave you unprepared for the questions that matter most: how to live, how to love, how to die, and whether there is a God who loves us in the midst of it all.”

It’s an extraordinary book, which points to hope that not even death can defeat. I cannot recommend this book enough; you can read the whole review here.