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It's Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian Hardcover – September 22, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York City pastor Selmanovic synthesizes his upbringing in a Muslim-atheist household and his own conversion to Christianity as a young adult to create this concise and entertaining interfaith memoir. The author vividly describes his childhood in Yugoslavia, where his Muslim father and Christian mother reveled in multicultural cooking and entertaining. Essentially raised to be an atheist, Selmanovic shattered his parents' world when he converted to Christianity at age 18 during his required army service. Searching for his own Christian identity, he eventually came to the United States in 1990, only to become frustrated that American organized religion confirmed some of his father's criticisms. Selmanovic's story goes much deeper while still being respectful of, and fair to, all faiths and beliefs. An active member of the interfaith movement, Selmanovic actually moves beyond just creating harmony between faiths toward achieving a détente between people of faith and atheists. He challenges clergy to reclaim a space outside institutional walls and Christians to tone down conversion rhetoric. Sprinkled throughout are Selmanovic's entertaining and illustrative anecdotes, including the quite memorable Theology of Hemorrhoids. (Sept.)
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“Samir Selmanovic is asking the right questions at the right time, and refusing the consolations of certainty at a time when strident orthodoxies--atheist as well as religious--are perilously dividing us.”
Karen Armstrong, author, A History of God and The Great Transformation

“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

 “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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470433264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470433263
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

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Samir Selmanovic is an author, speaker, consultant, and community organizer. He was born and raised in a culturally Muslim family in the atheistic urban milieu of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, in the former Yugoslavia. During his compulsory service in the army, Selmanovic joined an underground group of believers and became a Christian. Upon returning home and announcing his conversion, his family expelled him, sending him off on a long personal journey geographically, culturally, and spiritually.

Selmanovic completed a bachelor of science degree in structural engineering at the University of Zagreb and earned three graduate degrees from Andrews University in Michigan, including a doctorate in religious education. He then served as a pastor and community organizer in Manhattan for six years, which included dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2003, he transferred to Southern California and helped launch and grow CrossWalk Church ( In 2008, drawn by his love for New York, he founded an interreligious community called Faith House Manhattan (

Selmanovic is an ordained pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church and cofounder of Re-church Network ( He has been integral to the birth of emerging church movement, serving as a member of the Coordinating Group of Emergent Village and representing emergents at the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches ( He has published numerous articles and book chapters about the interplay of spirituality, religion, Scripture, culture, and leadership. He speaks nationally and internationally on topics of interdependence, diversity, religious identity, spiritual practice, leadership, interreligious dialogue, and social justice. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Vesna, and two daughters, Ena and Leta. They are enthusiastic members of Citylights, a Christian community in Manhattan, with vision of "learning to love well" (

For events, resources, and other information about the author, go to or

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Earl G. Barnett on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps I am just overly pessimistic, but based on its title this book wasn't what I expected. I mean that in a good way. It's Really All About God is an overflow of love and hope for the future of religion. Whereas many interfaith dialogs seek to blur distinctions, mixing the world's religions into a monochromatic stew of ethic teachings, Samir takes an alternative route. He asks, "Can God be found in those outside of my religious tradition?". As a result, It's Really All About God provides its reader with complimentary ways of understanding and experiencing God, despite their religious background.

For many, this will be an unnerving approach. However, it need not be. Samir carefully and calculatedly constructed a theological framework that speaks unilaterally, across religious divides. His framework is one of asking deep questions about how we, as religious people, understand power, community, the nature, and knowledge of God.

Do we only participate in conversations we can control? Must we have the last word? Is a singular belief necessary for Spirit-filled community? Are our religions equitable to the presence of God? If not, how does that change how we look at religion?

Samir is interested in deepening our faith and opening our communities, rather than proselytizing a particular faith or ideology. Taking the role of a prophet, Samir is careful to limit the answers he provides. He merely confronts the reader with tough questions and allows the discomfort and silence of unanswered questions. His hope is that, through the subsequent silence, God will make Godself heard and known.

However, this book is not just for theists.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Bishop-Weidner on July 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When Samir Selmanovic's manuscript landed in my lap, I was mildly curious as to what this media-savvy, pop culture-literate, former pastor of a thriving evangelical Christian church in southern California might have to say. By the time I finished the prologue, in which a Wiccan woman offers prayer for a gathering of pastors (and asks to pray to God as Mother), I was hooked. Selmanovic's call for community among God's peoples--all of them--is compelling, lyrical at times, thoughtful. And funny.

Selmanovic demands that we look at the flaws and drawbacks of organized religion, and that we admit our failure to adhere to the core teachings we believe. The book explores finding God in the "other", but Selmanovic doesn't mean the cliché of finding God where we least expect to. He's talking about finding God--really God--where we have determined God isn't. Like in a support group for atheists. Like in a case of hemorrhoids so severe you can't get your head out of your ass. With warmth and wit, Selmanovic tells us all--Christians, Jews, Muslims and anyone else who feels God can be quantified, qualified, and packaged in one True Religion--to, well, to get our head out of our collective ass. To find unity in life, to celebrate the gift of life, to find the Kingdom of God at hand--right here.

Selmanovic keeps it lively with delightfully unfamiliar poetry from all sorts of nooks and crannies, Rumi to Bob Dylan. But the soul of this little God-book is its author's personal narrative, Selmanovic's stories from a rich and varied faith journey that begins in the former Yugoslavia, as the eldest son in a big, warm, loving, generous Muslim family where the rules are simple: "Enjoy life, and don't be a jerk.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James Mills on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting for this book to hit the shelves for a long time. Even though I had heard Selmanovic speak several times and had a good idea of where this book was heading, I was overwhelmingly and pleasantly surprised when I had an opportunity to read the finished product. This book is full of powerful Good News that paints a beautifully narrated picture of what faithfulness might look like if we get out of the God management business. Ever since reading Reza Aslan's great book, No god but God, I wondered when a voice with connections to my own Christian tradition would write a book that looked to the future of faith with hope. This is that book.

Selmanovic has creatively weaved together a book that is part theology, part personal narrative, and part poetry and the result is inspiring, humbling, and challenging. His voice and tone throughout is pastoral, open, and deeply human. The reader follows along from one important moment to the next in the journey through faith and doubt and back again. It will challenge your thoughts, touch your emotions, and gently nudge you to follow the same path towards a God that is much bigger and unpredictable than we may have previously imagined.

If you have God all figured out this book is not for you. But if you are tired of hearing people of faith proclaim "gospel" messages that are just reflections of their own narrow, homogeneous way of thinking and want to hear something new give this a try.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Samir Selmanovic introduces his book by explaining that he considers himself a Christian but because of his background feels that "Muslim Atheist Jewish" is an adjective describing his Christianity. Confusing, I know. So I spent the first half of the book just trying to find out why he would describe himself that way, somewhat distracted from any point he was trying to make. Somewhere just after the hemorrhoid episode I finally realized that he really is well-versed in Christianity, but is just trying to open the doors of his mind to other faiths.

Selmanovic spends the majority of his time pointing out the downfalls of cultural Christianity while quoting and praising other faiths. So I assume this book is intended for Christians, although the cover makes it hard to tell who is the intended audience.

Selmanovic does have some thought-provoking ideas. Chapters 1-5 contained subject matter that I have encountered before in my own readings of C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard, but Selmanovic took these ideas to extremes that I'm quite sure Lewis and Willard never intended; I have studied both extensively, and they do believe that Jesus is the Way, while Selmanovic reduces the cross to a "fetish"--that is what he called it. In Chapter 6, entitled "Your God is Too Big," Samir finally offers some reasonable basis for his ideas, quoting Bible stories about God being in the gentle breeze, the still small voice, and coming to Earth as an infant. So in other words he feels that if God did not bowl people over with himself, why do we feel we need to tout our big Christian God? In the next chapter he explains that Atheists ask good questions of Christians, and we should therefore treasure them. Fair enough.
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