Cancer is Funny by Jason Micheli

Cancer Is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo

Jason Micheli

December 1, 2016

Jason Micheli, a young father, husband, and pastor, was diagnosed with a bone cancer so rare and deadly that his doctors didn’t classify it with one of the normal four stages – they simply called it stage-serious. As Micheli struggled with despair and faced his own mortality, he resolved that although cancer kills the body, it would not kill his spirit, faith, or sense of humor

Micheli knew that the promise of faith makes hope possible. And approaching cancer as fodder for some bowel-busting humor helps, too. His reflections are not trite. Instead, he writes honestly about being stricken with lethal cancer in the midst of a promising career and raising two young children. He struggles with his commitment to the God who, as he writes, may or may not be doing this to him. Because figuring this out for himself–not to mention explaining it to his congregation and his sons–is so important that theology is now a matter of life and death. This is a funny, no-holds-barred, irreverent-yet-faithful take on a disease that touches every family. Micheli’s story teaches us all how to stay human in dehumanizing situations–how to keep living in the face of death.


I don't know if cancer is funny, but I can tell you that Cancer Is Funny is often hilarious! And the parts of Jason Micheli's astounding book that aren't hilarious brim with profound reflections on life, death, God, and the absurd wonder and tragedy of being human. And it doesn't hurt that the writing is superb. This is not a book for people with cancer, this is a book for people who are mortal.

-- Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri, author of "A Farewell to Mars and Water to Wine"

This is the real thing, people. If you have friends with cancer, parishioners with cancer, family members with cancer, or have cancer yourself (and who does not fit into at least one of these categories?), you'll find this book indispensable.

-- Fleming Rutledge, episcopal priest and author of "God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament"

This book is completely inappropriate and that's exactly what it needs to be. Jason has perfected the art of pastoral irreverence. Cancer isn't funny except when it is. Don't feel guilty if this book makes you laugh, but don't be surprised if Jason tricks you into loving God more in the process.

-- Morgan Guyton, author of "How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity"

What gets lost in all the stories about the decline of religion is how many people have left church because they find its leaders uninspired and institutionally minded. Jason Micheli is neither. He is as funny as he is smart and both come through in refreshing, irreverent ways in Cancer is Funny. If you're spiritual but not religious or if you're religious but have forgotten how to be spiritual, Jason Micheli reminds you that God can be found in the world beyond the Church, even in incurable cancer. And Jason shows us with raw candor that wherever God is to be found, joy and laughter are possible.

-- Diana Butler Bass, author of "Grounded: Finding God in the World Spiritual Revolution"

Jason Micheli is one of the most hip, funny, deeply-theological-without-being-boring pastors in my church today. Jason is an engaging, always substantive-without-being-showy communicator of the faith. Now that he's got Stage Dangerous Cancer, Jason's wit, faith, and genius turns even that tough journey into a pilgrimage toward God. Only Jason could transform cancer into a source of comedy but also a great occasion to teach the rest of us how to think like Christians about life, sickness, death, and God. Jason is able to do this because he, as much as anyone I know, believes in a living, redemptive God who is with us, in good times and bad. A funny, faithful book.

-- Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School, bishop in the United Methodist Church

Jason Micheli is the bravest motherfucker I’ve ever met. It takes a lot of courage to keep faith with God while you’re saying, “Fuck you cancer, and your little tumor Toto too.” But not only does he keep faith; it deepens because he becomes a theologian of the only theology that matters—the theology of death and life, you know, the theology of when shit gets real. Writing with the wit and brutal honesty of Annie Lamott, Michelli takes his readers on a shakedown cruise of pain, suffering, and discovery where we all meet God, perhaps for the first time. Get this book, bitches.

-- Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, Professor of Religion, Elon University

Illness creates loneliness but Micheli resists that development by sharing his struggle with cancer. He does so with good humor which is not only a gift because, as he suggests, cancer is only funny in a tragic way, but also the most fundamental quality for a well-lived and faithful life.

-- Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Emeritus Professor of Divinity and Law at Duke University

If smart-ass humor is the best evidence of fighting spirit, Jason Micheli is Charles Bronson of cancer patients. He disrupts all the cliches of cancer chronicles: he’s not old or saintly and peddling comfort or resolution. He’s a preacher who’s not at peace, a GenXer who acknowledges that irony is his security blanket. Staring down the barrel of a life-threatening disease, he proves that irreverence can be the flip side of faith.

-- JC Herz, author of Learning to Breathe Fire

Sometimes you read a book you have to finish. Sometimes you know you have to read it again. On occasions you read a book that makes you think, laugh, drop some tears, & want to grab a drink with the author. Jason has done that, plus I have a list of people who will be getting this book as a gift. If you love solid theology, powerful testimony, & a text you will ruminate over, you will love this book.

-- Tripp Fuller, author of "The Home-brewed Christianity Guide to Jesus"


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