SIX MONTHS TO LIVE: Learning from a Young Man with Cancer
Daniel Hallock
Plough, 136 pages, $10

Late in november 1999, in Farmington, Pennsylvania, 22-year-old Matt Gauger discovered he had lymphoma. The cancer had already spread from his abdomen to his chest. In a week he went from being a music-loving, basketball-playing twentysomething to being a hospital patient doped up on morphine and with very poor prospects. He undertook a rigorous course of chemotherapy, got engaged in December, married in January, had a positive spring, relapsed in May, and died in June.

During the course of his illness, several people became Christians or rededicated themselves to living for God because of how Matt conducted himself.

What makes Six Months to Live by Daniel Hallock more than a script for a TV Tragedy of the Week is that it was lived out in the context of an intentional Christian community called the Bruderhof. The Bruderhof is an international neo-Anabaptist group started by Eberhard Arnold in 1920 in Germany. They eventually found their way to the United States in 1954, via England and Paraguay, and now number over 3,000 spread over nine communities on three continents. The head elder is Johann Christoph Arnold, the grandson of the founder. While Bruderhof members resemble the Amish or Hutterites, they are a comparably new group made up mostly of people who have come out of the secular world and have chosen to enter this one.

Dying is a particularly good context for viewing the nature of community life. We see Matt surrounded by friends at the outset of his diagnosis, even adopted by a larger family while Matt's parents worked at the Bruderhof community in Australia. Matt's parents are flown back to be with their son and relieved from ...

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