Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing—and How We Can Revive Them

Book, 2018, 240 pp
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In a rapidly changing culture, 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 moving from the Bible Belt to New York City, he discovered that the sacred terms he used to describe his spiritual life didn’t connect as they had in the past. This launched him into an exploration of an increasing American reluctance to talk about faith—and the data he uncovered revealed a quiet crisis of affecting millions.

In this groundbreaking book, Jonathan revives ancient expressions through incisive 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 invite you into the embrace of the God who inhabits them.

“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.’” —Rachel Held Evans, author of Searching for Sunday and Inspired

“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, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“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. [...] This engaging, important book will appeal equally to the devout and the spiritually alienated.” —Kirsten Powers, political analyst and columnist

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