It's Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism, and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian
September 2009, Jossey-Bass
Samir Selmanovic—who grew up a in a culturally Muslim family in Croatia, converted to Christianity as a soldier in the then-Yugoslavian army, and went on to become a Christian pastor in Manhattan and in Southern California—looks at how our ongoing and sometimes violent power struggles over who owns God and what God wants for the world and its peoples are not serving God, humanity, or our planet.
- Shows how our religions have become self-serving, God-management systems, however Selmanovic contends—change is possible
- Offers a path for people of all faiths and traditions for living together on our fragile earth
- Karen Armstrong said that the book is "asking the right questions at the right time"
This is a personal story and a moving exploration of a new way of treasuring one's own religion while discovering God, goodness, and grace in others and in their traditions.
Chapter 1 Living with a Splinter.
Chapter 2 The Secret of the Ordinary.
Chapter 3 God Management Systems.
Chapter 4 Why Is God Not More Obvious?
Chapter 5 Where Does Your Heart Go?
Chapter 6 Your God Is Too Big.
Chapter 7 The Blessing of Atheism.
Chapter 8 One World at a Time.
Chapter 9 When My God Becomes Our God.
Epilogue My Story and Maybe Yours.
Samir Selmanovic, Ph.D., is a founder and Christian co-leader of Faith House Manhattan, an interfaith "community of communities" that brings together forward-looking Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others who seek to thrive interdependently. Samir is also the director of a Christian community in New York City called Citylights and serves on the Interfaith Relations commission of the National Council of Churches and speaks nationally and internationally (www.samirselmanovic.com).
—Karen Armstrong, author, A History of God and The Great Transformation
“Why are thousands not saying what this man is saying? Such obvious truth must be made even more obvious, and this is exactly what Samir Selmanovic is doing for all of us and for the future of humanity. After you read this wise book, you will say, ‘Of course!’ and ‘Thank God!’”
—Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“We need a million more Samirs on the planet—people of conviction and humility who know that the vast mystery called God calls us not to the arrogance of ‘ownership’ but to the beloved community.”
—Parker J. Palmer, author, A Hidden Wholeness, Let Your Life Speak, and The Courage to Teach
“Samir Selmanovic offers a deeply personal reflection on faith, doubt, and ultimately, spiritual peace. . . . [He tells] a sophisticated and introspective story that simultaneously stirs the heart, challenges the intellect, and inspires the soul.”
—Daisy Khan, executive director, American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)
“In a world in which religious traditions are too often digging their heels into the tired sod of exclusionary self-righteousness, this love song to the God of all Existence is a much longed for work of hope and optimism.”
—Rabbi Marcia Prager, author, The Path of Blessing: Experiencing the Energy and Abundance of the Divine
“If atheists, agnostics, and non-religious people like myself want to gain understanding and improve the world …we need to read not only the hard-line voices of ancient religions but also the freshest and wisest voices of modern progressive religion. Samir Selmanovic's is just such a fresh voice.”
—Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain of Harvard University, and author, Good Without God: What a Billion Non-Religious People Do Believe
“For all Seekers of the Truth, Samir's deeply insightful, uniquely personal, lyrical quest for a relationship with God provides a clear vision on the need to dig deep, transcending traditional boundaries of faith and theology, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu.”
—Rathi Raja, president of Arsha Vedanta Center (www.arshavedantacenter.org) of Long Island and the executive director of Young Indian Culture Group
“I'm speechless in trying to describe this book. I laughed out loud in places and cried big tears at the end. It's a work of faith, a work of art, and to some, no doubt, it will be a work of damnable heresy. I think this book will change people's lives, and more: it can save lives, in the many senses of that word. All the religious pundits and broadcasters on radio and cable TV had better take notice, because this book threatens our conventional, comfortable categories and familiar black-and-white polarities. Selmanovic has the nerve to imagine our religions becoming, not walls behind which we hide and over which we lob bombs of damnation, but bridges over which we travel to find God in the other.”
—Brian McLaren, Author/Activist (brianmclaren.net)
“This is a solidly researched book that reads like a love song. My inner mystic jumped and leaped and shouted for joy. I found myself less lonely in this big old world. I felt like I was at a really good party, each paragraph a song, each page another glass of wine, each chapter the prospect of another dance with a beautiful woman. At this party, nobody got mad at me for letting my hair down. In fact, everyone, including God, encouraged me to go a little crazy.”
—Rev. Vince Anderson, bandleader, songwriter, honky-tonkist, co-pastor of Revolution Church NYC, (reverendvince.com)
View all endorsements: (www.filedby.com/author/samir_selmanovic/3516513/presskit)
“....concise and entertaining....Selmanovic’s story goes much deeper while still being respectful of, and fair to, all faiths and beliefs.” —Publishers Weekly
Book by Muslim-Jewish-Atheist-Christian Author Proposes Radical Rethinking of Religion Today: It’s Really All About God
Religions have become “self-serving God-management systems,” losing credibility and relevance for millions of people, says author Samir Selmanovic (pronounced “SAH-meer Sel-MAHN-ovich”). Monotheistic religions, and atheism, are failing to adjust to our newly interdependent world. The founder of Faith House Manhattan, Selmanovic proposes a radically different way to practice one’s religion in his new book, It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, $24.95, September 2009). It goes beyond usual calls to peaceful coexistence and tolerance to actual appreciation and acknowledgment of the need we all have for each other.
Selmanovic, whose colorful spiritual journey is woven through the book, offers a way to deepen one’s particular religious identity while discovering God, goodness and grace beyond the boundaries of one’s tradition.
“We are at the end of isolated Christianity, isolated Islam, isolated Judaism, the end of any kind of religion that poses as the ‘broker of the sacred,’ to the rest of us,” Selmanovic says. “It’s really not about any one religion or belief system. It’s really all about God, who is about all of us and cannot be owned by any of us.”
Selmanovic is passionate about his own Christian faith, but he believes that God must also be found outside the boundaries of one’s religion. The book recounts his journey toward a “fourth way,” in which the theology and practice of “finding God in the other” moves from the outskirts of religious experience to its center.
As he began to question what he calls “the Christian fantasy of supremacy over other religions,” Selmanovic became convinced that “a God who favors me over others would not be worth worshipping. To truly care for me, my God also has to care for you. I would rather sacrifice the way I interpret the Bible than sacrifice people.”
“I have adopted a simple question that helps me navigate the journey: Is a God who favors anyone over anyone else worth worshipping?” Selmanovic says. “To truly care for me, my God also has to care for those who differ from me.”
Selmanovic grew up in a culturally Muslim, though atheist in practice, family in Croatia and converted to Christianity as a soldier during his compulsory service in the Yugoslavian army. His conversion led to his being shunned by friends and family, and expelled from his home. Through these challenges he found strength in his Christian faith while learning to value the worldviews of other people. He went on to become a respected pastor in Southern California and New York. Selmanovic is now co-leader of Faith House Manhattan, which brings Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and humanists together to explore and find ways of living interdependently.
Selmanovic is not calling for one religion for all; rather he calls for every religion to find a way that is good for all people, refusing to reduce the other to an enemy. Even atheism is not the enemy of religion. “Atheists are part of the human household to which we all belong and without whom we would be worse off. What would the world be without those who doubt God?”
Selmanovic argues that “fundamentalists can only be defeated by passion that is greater than theirs. I would not have become or stayed Christian without the blessings of Judaism, Islam, and atheism. My hope is to add one more voice affirming how indispensable our differing treasures are—not just for ourselves, but for others, too. To maintain the breath of life in something as complex and beautiful as human experience, our mysteries need each other.”