In general I’m not a big fan of self-help type books. Memoirs, true stories, etc. I’m good with, but I don’t generally lean towards books that are meant to help me be the best version of myself or whatever. It’s not that I don’t believe in them, it’s just that with the time I do have to read I’d rather be entertained than work on self-reflection. But, when I was asked if I wanted to read John Pavlovitz’s book Hope and Other Superpowers: A Life-Affirming, Love-Defending, Butt-Kicking, World-Saving Manifesto I was intrigued.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, blogger, activist, and pastor. I’m not particularly religious so I was also wary that this was going to be religious or too “preachy”, but when the book was pitched to me and I saw that Pavlovitz was writing about the world today and how to find hope in seemingly hopeless times, I decided I did want to give it a read. Plus, the synopsis made it seem as though he is not a fan of our current president (true) so that was a plus in my book.
I ended up really liking this book and read it pretty quickly. Pavlovitz has a great way of telling stories of his own life and people he knows and relating them to the reader and what is going on in the world. Without preaching, he teaches life lessons with the underlying and enduring message that in a world full of darkness, ignorance, fear, hatred, and racism today there is still a glimmer of hope. There is always a silver lining to a dark cloud. In the wake of Trump being elected as President, there has been a lot of dark times, but there have also been tons of people becoming activists. There has been a wave of young people becoming active in their communities and demanding change. It is inspiring and we can’t give up hope because it is one of our superpowers.
I also loved that Pavlovitz connected each of his points to something a literary superhero has been through, which I really appreciate as a movie and Marvel fan (DC not as much, but I appreciate the references). Wonder Woman travels from another land to protect the good in the world. Batman rises up against corruption and evil in Gotham City. Ant-Man feeling outsized by his enemies but taking them down from within. Each chapter covers a different point and Pavlovitz relates it to a fictional superhero and a real life superhero.
As mentioned earlier, since Pavlovitz is a pastor I didn’t know if the book would be too religious or preachy, but it’s none of that. Pavlovitz is progressive, open-minded, believes in inclusivity, and is actually pretty funny. He curses, is self-deprecating, and what sold me about his personality was when he said he’d prefer to have explosive diarrhea than have Trump as president! As he says, “this isn’t a book about theology; it’s an invitation to be the kind of person the world needs, and you don’t need to subscribe to a certain spiritual tradition in order to be such a person.”
I wrote down a ton of page numbers that had quotes or passages that I particularly liked or resonated with me. I narrowed it down to these:
“We all want to do something decidedly super, and most of us begin our journeys believing that we can, fully expecting to be extraordinary. But somewhere along the way, we find ourselves weakened by the pain and disappointment in our path, by our perceived shortcomings and missteps, by cruel words we receive, and by the disheartening circumstances in which we find ourselves.”
“In times when people seem increasingly immune to others’ pain, we need to unapologetically wield hearts still willing to bleed, and then affix them to our sleeves and step into the daylight looking for gaps in the world that we alone can fill.”
Lastly in response to the public scrutiny to the tired “thoughts and prayers” phrase that many politicians and ministers are saying so often these days:
“As a Christian minister and pastor I have no aversion to prayer, but in the face of injustice and suffering, prayer without behavior change or measurable movement isn’t something I’m all that interested in. Whether religious or not, heroic people move from burden to action, from heart to hand; they evolve from simply feeling empathy to tangibly expressing compassion. The people who are the difference makers don’t wait for someone else to stand up to corrupt power or oppose unjust legislation or advocate for people who are hurting so that they can join in – they stand up and oppose and advocate regardless of the cost. Heroes, whether on-screen or in just your school, your neighborhood, or your community, do things that everyone else hopes and prays somebody would do. They are the kind of people this hurting, hope-starved world needs.”
Trust me, there were so many more quotes that I personally loved and thought were so true or inspiring, but I don’t want to give the whole book away!
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it if you’re feeling like you need some hope and inspiration in the world we live in right now.
*I received this book complimentary, but all opinions are my own. This post also contains an affiliate link.*