Foreword Reviews

Cross of a Different Kind

Cancer and Christian Spirituality

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Cross of a Different Kind proposes a well-cited theological approach to dealing with cancer.

Anthony Maranise’s heady Christian spiritual development book Cross of a Different Kind mixes systematic theology with inspiration for those dealing with cancer.

The book is divided into three sections: “For Those Left to Carry On,” “Fighting the Good Fight,” and “The Fullness of Life.” Each section is pitched for different people, considering how they might be impacted by cancer, including those who have lost someone, those in treatment, and cancer survivors. The book explores each area though a Christian theological lens, including the reality of suffering, questions about God’s goodness, and incarnational spirituality. The book closes with several appendices that include prayers, resources, and spiritual exercises.

A personal preface explores Maranise’s childhood experience with cancer and how it shaped his life and faith. His story is referred to throughout the text, including his work as a chaplain with others struggling with cancer diagnoses, like a teenage patient who connects the self-denial of Lent with the desire to be a “jerk” about how cancer makes her feel. Such personal portions are moving, showing how cancer impacts real people; they humanize and contextualize the otherwise dry theological material.

Arguing that Christian theology can help those impacted by cancer make meaning of their experiences, the book draws on Christian ideas about the body and the soul to argue that cancer can impact one but not the other. A variety of traditional materials, including the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the works of the Church fathers are referenced in service of these arguments, as well as contemporary theological texts. The argumentation is sound and clear, if not always new or freshly insightful.

Between the three sections, some material repeats, and the theological focus works better in the opening chapters, which are directed at people impacted by others’ fights with cancer, and in the last chapters, which are directed at survivors. Both sections maintain enough distance to make clear theological meaning of the disease.

The book relies heavily on its quoted material, which is set outside of the paragraphs it supports. Such quotes distract from the main text. Many pages include three or four large blocks of quoted text, with the original content lost beyond them. The book’s hand-drawn, colored images of hands and arms do not complement the work.

Cross of a Different Kind proposes a well-cited theological approach to dealing with cancer.

Reviewed by Jeremiah Rood

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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