by Jonathan Merritt – Convergent Books
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DISCOVER A FAITH WORTH TALKING ABOUT
As America rapidly becomes a pluralistic, postmodern society, many of us struggle to talk about faith. We can no longer assume our friends understand words such as grace or gospel. Others, like lost and sin, have become so negative they are nearly conversation-enders.
Jonathan Merritt knows this frustration well. After Jonathan moved from the Bible Belt to New York City, he discovered that whenever conversations turned to spirituality, the words he’d used for decades didn’t connect with listeners anymore. In a search for answers and understanding, Jonathan uncovered a spiritual crisis affecting tens of millions.
In this groundbreaking book, one of America’s premier religion writers revives ancient expressions through cultural commentary, vulnerable personal narratives, and surprising biblical insights. Both provocative and liberating, Learning to Speak God from Scratch will breathe new life into your spiritual conversations and lure you into the embrace of the God who inhabits them.
“At a time when religious language has been hijacked by politicians and exploited by hypocritical, profiteering ministers, the idea of an honest-to-God spiritual conversation feels alienating to many Americans. In Learning to Speak God from Scratch, Jonathan Merritt’s groundbreaking analysis of this new reality is a welcome revelation. This engaging, important book will appeal equally to the devout and the spiritually alienated.”
—Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and USA Today columnist
“In Learning to Speak God from Scratch, my friend Jonathan Merritt tackles the challenge I’m confronted with every time I sit down to prepare a message. Language. Words. Nouns. Pronouns. Like you, I have a version of God-speak. And while it works for me, it doesn’t always work for the world around me. If you’re content to speak of God with only those who share your version of God-speak, then you will find this book curious at best. But if, like me, you’re convinced God has done something in the world, for the world, you will find this book indispensable.”
—Andy Stanley, North Point Ministries, Inc.
“Meister Eckhart said something to the effect of ‘We cannot speak of God. And we must never stop speaking of God.’ If we must speak of God, I’m glad Jonathan Merritt is on the case. He writes with uncommon eloquence, curiosity, and compassion about the ever-evolving role of religion and faith in our culture, with the hard-earned wisdom of one who’s been both scarred and healed. His words—and his reimagining of words—are needed now more than ever.”
—Josh Radnor, star of NBC’s Rise and How I Met Your Mother
“In a time when thoughtless opinions run rampant, Jonathan uses his brilliance to help us think better. He is a masterful writer, who has a gift for language and communication. How fitting that he would use his gifts to help us communicate on the highest level!”
—Lecrae Moore, two-time Grammy winning hip-hop artist
“Fascinating, inspiring, creative, and frequently brilliant, Jonathan Merritt’s new book restores these sacred but often forgotten words to their rightful place in the life of belief.”
—James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large for America magazine and best-selling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
“As a fellow writer for whom words matter almost more than anything, Jonathan has laid new pavement for reimagining the language of our faith until they recover their meaning, power, depth, and beauty. I felt several things while reading this book: permission, relief, and the gentle invitation to find my way back to language that has, in every way possible, rescued my soul. As it turns out, specific words may change but everything good and right remains.”
—Jen Hatmaker, New York Times best-selling author of For the Love and Of Mess and Moxie
“People who have a lot of information are not unique. People who have a lot of wisdom, profound thought, and a passion to communicate effectively are. Jonathan embodies that to me. For way too long, people have been left out of conversations that hold life-or-death weight, especially about who God is, simply because of a cultural language barrier. This has to change. So if anybody is remotely interested in actually helping people with what “they know,” this book will be a blessing. My city, New York, is full of people who are listening. The question is whether we can be humble enough to relearn the way we are talking. If the message you love is worth it, this book is for you.”
—Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong Church NYC and author of Own the Moment
“With each turn of the page, you realize with increasing urgency how necessary and important this book is. Applying a journalist’s eye to the language of faith, Jonathan Merritt breathes new life into familiar words and phrases, expertly employing history, etymology, biblical studies, survey data, and personal narrative to show that how we “speak God” really matters. Smart, eclectic, and delightfully readable, Learning to Speak God from Scratch is packed with little gems of knowledge and insight that will get you thinking. It deserves a place of honor on the bookshelf of every writer, every pastor, and every person of faith who understands that, as Mark Twain put it, ‘the difference between the almost-right word and the right word is…the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.’”
—Rachel Held Evans, New York Times best-selling author of Searching for Sunday and Inspired