The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

“If you had to choose one book to help a person embarking on pastoral ministry, what would it be?” We posed that question to some pastors and professors. Here are their choices. —Ed.

I tried to talk myself out of selecting a young adult book published in 2012. How could John Green possibly be shelved alongside Tillich in the pastor’s study? But I like the idea of new pastors plumbing the depths of critically ac­claimed and enormously popular books written for teenagers—especially when they are as insightful and sensitive as this one. 

It’s a book about love, cancer, life, and death that skewers the facile wisdom frequently doled out by people—including clergy—who mean well. Green takes young people seriously in a way that many youth ministries don’t. The story makes me weep not only because it is honest about how tragic life can be, but also because it testifies that love can spike even the most tragic lives with beauty and joy.

Read all reflections.

Katherine Willis Pershey

Katherine Willis Pershey is copastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton, Wisconsin, and author of Very Married.

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