John Pavlovitz inspires hope

"Hope and Other Superpowers " is the title to John Pavlovitz’s new book.

Hope and other Superpowers is inspirational

“Today, look around you. See the builders in your community, take note of the beautiful acts of collaboration and inclusion, and let that news be the thing that trends in your head.” John Pavlovitz.

Minister and author John Pavlovitz
Minister and author John Pavlovitz

Hope and Other Superpowers may sound like the title to the next Marvel movie, but it is the title to Pavlovitz’s new book. Pavlovitz is a minister, writer and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. His blog “Stuff that Needs to be Said” is followed by millions. The Chicago Tribune said his blog “pulls no punches” as Pavlovitz continues to inspire hope amidst adversity.

Pavolitz was born in Syracuse, New York, and raised in the Catholic Church. He left for college and went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to study graphic design. When Pavlovitz met his wife and started planning his wedding, he came across a small Methodist church outside Philadelphia. He began volunteering at the church and going into ministry full-time. Pavlovitz said, “It was completely unexpected. It was nothing that I aspired to be growing up, and that made me a very different minister.”

Leaving his Catholic faith became clear when his younger brother came out as gay and Pavlovitz was in his early twenties. “His coming out really confirmed what I had been feeling about the theology I had been raised in. This was more important than the teachings I had grown up with.” Pavlovitz parents were completely supportive of his brother. Now he encourages parents of LGBT children to “be loving in the moment they hear those words,” adding “how easy it is to get it wrong and damage your child.” Pavlovitz said he has found that throughout the country schools and churches, like his, are becoming more inclusive.

Pavlovitz has two children and his son in eighth grade is being exposed to things “we didn’t see until high school and college.” He stressed the biggest challenge as a parent is giving them safety but at the same time freedom to choose. “When children get a phone, the world is opened up to them, and it is hard to have them stay children,” says Pavlovitz.

He started his blog about eight years ago. Writing to parents of teenagers in his local community was the gig and when he wrote about the Sandy Hook shooting, his blog reached beyond his community. He felt it was his responsibility to speak out about what was happening in the world.

His writing began “as a slow evolution.” Pavlovitz published his first book A Bigger Table in 2017. The latest book was just published in November 2018.

Hope and Other Superpowers addresses the state of our nation under the Trump Administration. Pavlovitz said we are seeing a lack of empathy in our leadership, and a callousness of those surrounding the President. “Those that are already marginalized are feeling it more so,” he said. “We have lost the ability to care about people who are not like us.”

The book talks about what you can do as an individual to make a difference. He said to find “one area of your life that burdens you, whether it is homelessness, healthcare, or LGBTQ issues, and do something about it.”

Traveling around the country, he asks individuals what kind of person does the world need now? Despite their political differences, the people he meets all have a common thread in wanting compassion. He speaks of the challenge that will always be partisan politics and extreme religious beliefs. But he said the beauty is seeing a lot of people in the middle.

On social media, seeing a plethora of “bad news stories” can be overwhelming, he said. But you are not powerless to do something. Pavlovitz wants his readers to see that they have power in their own life and story. He wants us to see that the people who are so influential in our own lives were not celebrities but ordinary people. After the passing of his father, he looked at his own parents as being heroic for raising a family. His mentors were family members, teachers, and artists who changed him. “We can look back at times of grief and tragedy and find that we have a layer of empathy and compassion that we didn’t have before,” he said.

When asked about his future plans, Pavlovitz said, “I’m not on Plan B, I’m on Plan Q. For me, I get up every day and feel like I am part of making the world more compassionate, and more just. There is always hope and despair and you can always lean towards hope.”

Pavlovitz will be traveling the country promoting his new book and hopes to start a third book in 2020. For a dose of hope and inspiration, everyone should have Hope and Other Superpowers on their reading list.

Cora Berke
I am a volunteer for New Hope Celebrates in New Hope, PA. and former Board member of FACT Bucks County. I write for Out in Jersey Magazine and the Bucks County Herald. I love travelling, knitting, reading and taking care of my cat Gemma.