A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, by John Pavlovitz

My Copy: 9780664262679 (image from amazon.com)

Somewhere in the examples of family, friends, and churches, I’ve found myself not looking at Christianity as terribly relevant to me for over a decade. But this book is making me take another chance on Christianity–and myself–to find the good and spiritual.

A Bigger Table is a fantastic read that I’ll be keeping on my shelf. Written partly as an autobiography, full of personal experiences, lessons learned, scriptural references, and wonderful wording, John Pavlovitz’ book has so much in it that a lapsed Christian like myself can take with me.

I am already a fan of his blog “Stuff That Needs to be Said,” but there’s so much in here that I’m glad I bought it. I’ve had lots of questions that have bugged me, and he’s not lecturing me or prodding me into a certain denominational mindset. Rather, A Bigger Table allows you to acknowledge your inner struggle about faith and meaning, to question, so as to be a better human being and live as Jesus did, with love and inclusion.

This is something that’s bugged me since I hit about 18 and realized I didn’t agree with my family’s version of Christianity, which I saw as being more closed-minded, more holier-than-thou, more prosperity-gospel than what I thought I’d believed before. It’s a world of difference between Sunday school and the actual sermons as an adult. It seemed harsher, and if I’m being honest, the disconnect started much earlier–I just couldn’t place why.

Pavlovitz found many others in his journey that had similar feelings to mine in different circumstances and talks about similar disconnected moments. He recalls his experiences preaching in different churches and what they revealed to him, pressures on himself for questioning his faith, and eventually finding his own way to live with a good heart.

I’d love to learn how to do that, which is why I picked this book up in the first place. Amazing how in less than 200 pages, Pavlovitz hit on many of the things that have bothered me so much about what it means to be a Christian and be myself, and whether or not good thoughts or deeds meant more than “saving” someone for their afterlife.

There is this life here on Earth, why waste it hating others? I’d rather love all and love boldly than carve new dividing lines. Seriously, so far, this man’s the only pastor I’d like to hang out and chat with for a while.

It’s hard to describe, but if you’ve looked at some of his blog, you’ll have an idea as to his stance on life and diversity, and I think it’s wonderful (not everybody’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but certainly mine). It’s a great book that I will look forward to reading again and again, and bolstering myself with its message as I get the courage to go find a church and be sociable in a good way.

I know some people will be aghast at some of the things written in this book because it is too abrasive to the concept of Christianity most of us grew up with. But I recommend this book for anybody with an interest in faith and being a spiritual, inclusive person. If you’re not a fan of or find something wrong with the “prosperity gospel,” then this is a great book for you, too.

Happy reading, and hope we all find that something…and invite others to the table to share.

3 thoughts on “A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, by John Pavlovitz

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      I like his approach, his willingness to question. I am too used to reading articles and hearing sermons that use the Bible as a punctuation mark instead of a platform to begin thoughtful, enlightened discourse. Too often I’ve asked questions and then gotten “because God said so” (or a Bible quote used as a mic-drop), a plastic smile, and abrupt change of subject. I find it hard to learn that way.

      Liked by 1 person

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