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    Book review: Worth Fighting for (John Pavlovitz)

    Worth Fighting For Book Cover
    March 20, 2024

    Like many other progressives, I’m finding it difficult these days to be optimistic, much less at peace, about the state of the world and of the country I live in. Everywhere I look, cruelty is on display. (And what is it, anyway, about cruelty that it seems so necessary to humanity? I’ll never get that.) Looking for joy can often seem not just an uphill battle, but a misplaced sense of priorities. How can there be joy when so many people are suffering so terribly?

    I’ve also long found wisdom and balance in John Pavlovitz’ writings, even when he’s angry about something (and perhaps especially when he’s angry about something), and his new book, Worth Fighting For, is one I’ll be reading again and again. It’s not all new material—in fact, I found some of my own favorites there, passages I’d previously underlined elsewhere—but put together in a seamless narrative that manages to show solidarity with our frustration and anger, point towards ways in which we have agency to find solutions, and, amazingly, still find joy in the world.

    The advice Pavlovitz gives isn’t unique to him; perhaps it feels unique in his flowing use of language that draws the reader in as though it were in fact a conversation. And while he is himself rooted and speaking out of his own faith tradition, it’s pretty universal and perhaps even obvious advice: Wake up every day and choose to be happy. Fight for the rights of others. Work for justice and be outraged when it is denied. Surround yourself with positive people. Never get comfortable with cruelty and brutality. Love is the greatest weapon we have in the face of fear.

    Perhaps obvious, but clearly not embraced by many, which is turn makes it a little less obvious. I am reminded of something Chesterton wrote, that “the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

    It’s undeniably difficult to wake up and consciously search for joy. It’s difficult to reject the negativity being thrown at us daily and find a way to create change. Many of us struggle with these things. But when you read Pavlovitz, you start to believe that, no matter how difficult, those things are actually possible.

    And that’s maybe enough.

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