If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk
Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans
by John Pavlovitz
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Pub Date 28 Sep 2021 | Archive Date Not set
"A sobering yet inspiring discourse for open-minded, thoughtful readers." —Library Journal, starred review
"A passionate, timely plea for Christians to return to a faith of love and service." —Foreword Reviews
LibraryReads Deadline: 8/1/21
Leading voice in the progressive Christian community John Pavlovitz examines the bedrock ideas of religion to help all of us take an honest look at how the beliefs we hold can shape our relationships with God and our fellow humans—and to make sure that love has the last, loudest word.
Thou Shalt Not Be Horrible. Imagine for a moment what the world might look like if we as people of faith, morality, and conscience actually aspired to this mantra. What if we were fully burdened to create a world that was more loving and equitable than when we arrived? What if we invited one another to share in wide-open, fearless, spiritual communities truly marked by compassion and interdependence? What if we daily challenged ourselves to live a faith that simply made us better humans?
This simple phrase, "Thou Shalt Not Be Horrible," could help us practice what we preach by creating a world where:-spiritual community provides a sense of belonging where all people are received as we are;
-the most important question we ask of a religious belief is not Is it true? but rather, is it helpful?
-it is morally impossible to pledge complete allegiance to both Jesus and America simultaneously;
-the way we treat others is the most tangible and meaningful expression of our belief system.
In If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk, John Pavlovitz examines the bedrock ideas of our religion: the existence of hell, the utility of prayer, the way we treat LGBTQ people, the value of anger, and other doctrines to help all of us take a good, honest look at how the beliefs we hold can shape our relationships with God and our fellow humans—and to make sure that love has the last, loudest word.
A Note From the Publisher
• Embodies a Christianity that even nonreligious people recognize as more authentically Christ-like than what they see from many church people.
• Broad appeal to progressives and progressive Christians, spiritual nones and dones, and even atheists and agnostics.
• Written by popular, progressive Christian author with large platform.
• Author runs popular blog, Stuff That Needs to Be Said, which recently surpassed 100 million views.
• Endorsements from activists and actors including Chelsea Clinton, Amy Siskind, Yvette Nicole Brown, and John Fugelsang.
• Will leverage author’s previous media including in Chicago Tribune, Religion News Service, News & Observer, and RELEVANT, among others.
• Alyssa Milano has expressed interest in having John on her podcast, Sorry Not Sorry.
"Pavlovitz identifies dangerous and destructive paths that the United States has taken, particularly in the early 21st century, as the result of the union of the MAGA movement and Evangelical Christianity. Pavlovitz was raised Catholic and now identifies as a Unitarian Universalist, and he points out that by some right-wing standards, neither he nor Jesus is a Christian. With candor, the former megachurch pastor states that we can all do better; he powerfully advocates for a more equitable and loving society and emphasizes that Christians shouldn’t oversimplify or cherry-pick from Scripture in order to justify beliefs…. Complete with a discussion guide, this is a sobering yet inspiring discourse for open-minded, thoughtful readers."
—Library Journal, starred review
"With conviction and clarity, If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk advocates a life based on empathy and acceptance in the powerful, earnest voice of 'an honest and stumbling disciple trying to find the truest truth and live it.' It's hard to imagine a more urgent and vital message for today's spiritual seekers." —Foreword Reviews
“John asserts that he is a ‘longtime Christian by aspiration (if not always in practice),’ and his book demonstrates how his choices, his practice, have matched that aspiration, repeatedly, even when he’s sad, angry, or disillusioned. John’s compassion, humanity, humility, and humor are present throughout. His candor is authentic and his inspiration accessible and also challenging, in the very best sense. This is a book for anyone on a journey of faith or a journey of service, whether or not those two, as they do for John, intertwine—or for anyone who loves a terrific read.”
—Chelsea Clinton, author and advocate
“In the midst of this trying time, John gives us a road map to take the best parts of our religious beliefs and find a space for reconciliation, compassion, and kindness. Not just for others, but for ourselves. John’s bold, unwavering voice encourages us to find our common ground, and together to rise up against bigotry and hatred.”
—Amy Siskind, activist and author
“Pastor John Pavlovitz is the real thing. His compassion, empathy, wisdom, and guts will remind you of what Jesus actually preached. This self-described ‘theological mutt’ is a pastor, a prophet, a poet and a prince. John has given us a book of great insight and wit. It will remind you of what Christianity was supposed to be about. I can’t wait to give it as a gift.”
—John Fugelsang, comedian, actor, and host of SiriusXM Insight, Channel 121
“With clarity and candor, John reminds us of the compassion at the heart of what it means to be a spiritual human being and offers a loving expression of faith that is so necessary right now. If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk calls us to create a more just and equitable world, one that affirms the beauty in all humanity—and leaves us feeling that it is all within our hands.”
—Yvette Nicole Brown, actress, writer, and activist
“John Pavlovitz is an artisan of words. He’s a poet and a provocateur. Like the prophet Jeremiah, he’s got a fire ‘shut up in his bones’ that has to come out. That fire is love.... The love John writes about is the love that keeps us up at night because there are folks still out on the streets while we have an extra room in our homes. It is the love that cuts with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, because before we can get better we have to cut out the cancer that made us sick. Enjoy this book, and let it mess with you.”
—Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and co-founder of Red Letter Christians
• Targeted outreach to relevant audiences including author’s large social media platform, progressive Christians, spiritual-but-not-religious readers, and those who have left traditional Christianity.
• Coordinated social media campaign with author’s platform including tiered Goodreads giveaways, NetGalley outreach, exclusive early content, book trailer, and more.
• Extensive national indie bookstore ARC mailing and LibraryThing giveaway for Indie Next and LibraryReads nominations.
• National author speaking events and book signings.
• Publishers Weekly Sponsored LitCast interview with the author.
• Targeted publicity to mainstream and Christian media across TV, print, online, radio, and podcasts.
• Marketing & publicity contact: email@example.com
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 63 members
If God is Love, Don't Be a Jerk is a book on faith unlike any I've read before; Reading this book was enjoyable, not painful as some I've attempted to read. It's like curling up with the only person you can trust to express your honest feelings and thoughts regarding God and your faith. Stripped bare the essence of this book is "Thou Shall Not Be Horrible" a phrase that I have thought to myself often when encountering certain types of Christians.
This book isn't stuffy or scary, nor does it make false promises. One thing that is made very clear from the very first page is this will NOT be quick and easy so if you're looking for something you can just change instantly move right along and keep searching for what does not exist. Ideally you'll read this book instead and realize that while it may not be easy or quick it is the most inspirational relevant and desperately needed call to transformation.
John Pavlovitz writes with soul and it shines though every section of this book. Pavlovitz is humble, honest, and knows the meaning of humility; He bares his uncomfortable and frightening experience of the evolution of his Faith and leaves no room for mistaking his message. With simple sounding prose that flows naturally you'll find yourself nodding "mmhmming" and turning the page after page with no sense of time passing because you needed this book even if you didn't know it.
Before I even finished the book I was recommending it to my family and every friend I was in touch with and they are all excited at the idea of what this book can do for them, for their relationship with God and with themselves and their community. I am confident that they won't be disappointed and neither will you.
Do not ignore the call of this book. Make the time to give it a try and let your soul soar as you're led to a place in your Faith that you've been longing for (likely for quite some time)
Thank you so much to Netgalley and to John Pavlovitz for letting me preview an advance e-copy in exchange for my review. I am a much better person for the opportunity and I am beyond thrilled to have this blessing to pass on to every individual I can.
This book was my first introduction to John Pavlovitz, and l am beyond impressed. By the time I read the second chapter I was already researching who he was and following him on social media. Not only did John's words resonate with my own beliefs, I was challenged with how I live it out as well.
In this day and age, being a progressive Christian should be something that is more widely known and accepted. Especially if we claim to grasp Jesus' two commandments "1) Love God and 2) Love others" (Mark 12:29-31 MSG). Yet, unfortunately, that is not what is being done, which this past year (2020) has made abundantly clear. Instead of a year of turmoil, racism, death, and isolation bringing out the compassion of those following Christ we were shown more hate, violence, and segregation. People are literally being thrown out on the streets, beaten, and killed just for being different. Although aren't we all supposed to be brothers and sisters? John's book not only makes one question how the world is today, but he compares it to how it was during the biblical times. The parallels he points out are uncanny.
I personally believe that all people no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or any way a person identifies themselves should be shown respect, equality, and ultimately love. None the less, I also value others opinions and understand we may not agree. Does that mean you should not read this book? That's up to you, but let me ask you this... do you believe "God is love"? Then, read this book and "Don't be a Jerk".
I really loved this book. I've been thinking about my feedback for a few days, because I don't want my personal Christian beliefs, especially where I disagree with the author, to negatively impact my review. The book is very well written. The author is a well-known (in liberal, Christian circles, anyway) pastor who truly believes we need to treat all humans as Jesus would if He were still here in physical form. Each chapter covers a different topic (race, religion, gender, etc.) and offers Scripture references (in footnotes) to support the author's beliefs. I think one mark of an excellent book in this genre is that it changes the reader's behavior, or makes the reader think about something differently. I came to the realization that despite my faith, I definitely acted like a jerk to someone a couple of years ago and need to ask forgiveness from that person. I think anyone who wants to be more like Jesus, or who thinks Christians are judgmental, arrogant, hateful people should read this book to see how we're supposed to act.
With blogger, author, and pastor Pavlovitz (Hope and Other Superpowers), what you see is what you get. Fans of his Twitter account or his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said know that he’s a progressive plain talker in his writing, religion, and politics; his latest book is no exception. Pavlovitz identifies dangerous and destructive paths that the United States has taken, particularly in the early 21st century, as the result of the union of the MAGA movement and Evangelical Christianity. Pavlovitz was raised Catholic and now identifies as a Unitarian Universalist, and he points out that by some right-wing standards, neither he nor Jesus is a Christian. With candor, the former megachurch pastor states that we can all do better; he powerfully advocates for a more equitable and loving society and emphasizes that Christians shouldn’t oversimplify or cherry-pick from Scripture in order to justify beliefs. Pavlovitz decries mistreatment of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and other marginalized groups, while exploring the purpose of prayer and the value of anger. The basic tenet of his personal and professional philosophy is “Thou shalt not be horrible.”VERDICT Complete with a discussion guide, this is a sobering yet inspiring discourse for open-minded, thoughtful readers.
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