11 May 2014

Five Hours Later

Yesterday morning, once Matt and Little Bear sat down to breakfast, I picked up Jen Fulwiler's book, Something Other Than God. I didn't set it down again for five straight hours: they ate, they played, I sat on the step out front and kept reading as I watched Little Bear run around with his ball, then balanced the book on my knee while Little Bear nursed and fell asleep curled up on my lap. And after five hours immersed in Jen's beautiful conversion story, just as Little Bear began to stir, I turned the last page of the epilogue and set it down, bursting with thoughts and emotional responses and enthusiasm. Since I didn't want to wake Little Bear I couldn't share them with Matt, so I quickly pulled up a new post and began letting my thoughts bubble over onto the page.

As Little Bear woke up, he flailed and hit the screen and closed Blogger. Before I'd saved.

So you are (fortunately? unfortunately?) spared my initial exclamation-filled response to Something Other Than God, and now that I've had a day to mull over the book, hopefully I'll be able to do it justice because it is no exaggeration to say that Something Other Than God is the best book I've read this year, or even one of the best books I've read in several years. 

If you've ever read her blog, Conversion Diary, you know that I picked up Something Other Than God expecting Jen's candid, intelligent, witty, conversational writing, and of course you won't be surprised to learn that I wasn't disappointed. I expected to learn, and I did; to be entertained by her stories, and I was. But I didn't expect to be so deeply impacted by moments throughout her journey, to find the words suddenly blurring behind a sheen of tears as I heard my own thoughts in her frustration and struggles to understand suffering, death, and loss. 

The way Jen came to her answers to the hard questions we all ask-- how can a good God allow this? how can this terribly difficult thing be good/right/the only option? --spoke to me in a way I particularly needed just now, on Mother's Day weekend just weeks after losing our daughter. The Fulwilers' investigation of Catholicism, their gradual transformation through belief, was inspiring; the sound reasoning they employed and the breadth of history they read through on their journey-- St Justin Marytr, St Augustine, C.S. Lewis and so many more --brought both centuries of theological perspective and the very personal reminder that it is not until we choose to orient our hearts to God that we encounter Him.

Something Other Than God is an open, honest, from-the-heart story of an intelligent young woman seeking happiness, opening herself to answering fundamental, difficult questions, and ultimately discovering and choosing Truth. I fully expect to find myself reading it again and again, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining, inspiring read, particularly those who may have questions about the Catholic Church.

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