Thursday, May 15, 2014

what we're reading wednesday: something other than god

(Okay, it's early Thursday morning for me, but I wrote this post yesterday.)

I'm sure most people reading this post have already read or started Something Other Than God by Jen Fulwiler, so I don't need to provide a synopsis. I really, really enjoyed it (*cough*readitin24hours*cough*) and was actually brought to tears more than once. A few things about it really struck me:

1. I thought she did a phenomenal job of really giving us a look inside the head of an intelligent atheist. Reading the early chapters, I really felt like I was truly seeing things from that worldview, not just looking at it from the outside. That's a pretty remarkable thing, especially for someone who's never not believed in God.

2. The final chapters made me excited to be a Catholic convert again. There was a recent post by Katrina at The Crescat talking about the glow and enthusiasm of the new convert, and how that enthusiasm can fade a bit over time. She points out that the excitement often transforms into a deeper familiarity, which isn't a bad thing... but I think the periodic renewal of that excitement is very valuable, too. We're rational beings, but we're also emotional. Knowing the True and striving for the Good are great things, but it's also great to thrill to the Beautiful. And this book helped me find that thrill again. 

3. I was really struck by the passage where Jennifer comments on how much easier it is to strive to be good after reading about the lives of the saints, rather than reading about theology/philosophy/morality in theory only. I don't know why this never occurred to me before, but when I read that paragraph, it hit me like a thunderbolt. I suspect it's also an excellent remedy for those feelings of superiority and holier-than-thou smugness that can creep in when you're not looking-- there's nothing like looking straight at undiluted goodness and bravery to serve as a healthy slice of humble pie. Of course the life of Christ is the ultimate story of goodness and bravery, but we've heard it so often that, sadly, it can sometimes lose its shock value. Fortunately, the Church is just brimming with holy people to read about, each one gloriously unique and bringing a fresh perspective to holiness. 

4. I would, in a second, recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Catholicism-- especially if they're skeptical about it. As is pointed out in the passage where Jen and Joe are reading the blog comments from Steve G., the only thing that really distinguishes Catholicism from Protestantism is the belief in the authority of the Church (if you believe in that authority, everything else follows naturally), and this book explains that so well. (I loved the analogy to the Supreme Court and the Constitution.) I'm seriously considering giving a copy to my Evangelical parents because it's such a great, clear explanation. I think my dad, especially, would like it.

Now I just need to nag Jack to finish it, because I'm so anxious to have someone to discuss it with!

Linking up with Jessica at Housewifespice


  1. Number 3! Yes! Which makes me think I need to throw some saintly biographies into my diet of mainly juvenile and young adult fiction.

    1. I'm planning on doing the same thing!