The Hound of Heaven Never Rests
Stories of conversion or reversion to Catholicism are very captivating. I love to read how God works His grace and unfolds His plan; we are seeing the Hound of Heaven in active pursuit. I respect those who make those big leaps of faith and answer God's call. I often wonder if I would be able to do the same if I was put in a similar situation. Would I be too proud and set in my ways to not be open to seeking the Truth?
Jennifer Fulwiler's book Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It published by Ignatius Press unfolds her personal story as a pro-choice atheist who found her way home to the Catholic Church. Her story is captivating and well-written; she reveals her tale like an adventure novel that is hard to put down. I have been reading Jennifer's blogs for several years, enjoying a peek in her daily life with her husband and six children. She tells her tales of conversion, faith, homeschooling, health scares and social faux pas with such delightful self-deprecating humor that I knew her book would be enjoyable, but the book exceeded my expectation. I admit to reading it twice already.
I have not had many conversations with atheists, so this book was informative in understanding the road blocks to finding God. At the age of eleven while fossil hunting on the family land, Jennifer was hit with her first existential questions. What is man's purpose? If there is no eternity, there seems to be no difference between a fossil and a human, between living and non-living things. For many years she suppressed these thoughts by keeping occupied and pursuing fleeting happiness. It wasn't until after she married that she allowed herself to ponder and explore these questions. Her heart slowly opened to God, but each non-belief had to be explored and toppled. One of her biggest stumbling blocks was her pro-choice views, especially the rights to contraception and abortion, but there were many others she had to explore. Does God exist? How can we know Him? Is there a universal moral code? Who is Jesus Christ? Did He really rise from the dead? How to know the real Jesus and what He teaches? Is the Catholic Church the one true faith? Why does He allow suffering and tragic deaths and cruelty? Is Jesus vengeful? And why does it seem that God provides for some and not others?
Jennifer's conversion will appeal to this socially connected generation. She is a hip young 20-something computer programmer who seeks God through various means. She refers to several books that really helped find her way, such as Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, (I found myself taking notes for some of the reading and apologetics for my own refresher course.) but books were not her only source of information and communication. She also was able to sift through the Internet and engage in dialogue on her personal blog and emails.
One point that was illustrated throughout is that God does not intend for us to be on a faith journey alone, but share this journey with the Communion of Saints. Jennifer saw this through her conversion process, meeting people God sent to aid her in her quest. And the fact that her conversion intertwines with her husband's conversion is another example that she was not meant to do this alone. I will add that being able to see of her husband's process gives this book universal appeal -- it's not just a book that women will enjoy.
It is beautiful to read of God's providential plan and His care. I was moved to tears seeing the love and care of the Good Shepherd for their family. As Jennifer and Joe were opening themselves to God, not even the smallest detail was overlooked in His care to bring them back to His flock. Reading all the little connections and miracles along her journey was also a good reminder for me to notice and be grateful for God's care for me. He is the same loving Father, and so often I take His love for granted. Looking closely I can see that I have special gifts of His providential care every day that I should acknowledge more often.
This book is not just about following someone else's faith journey. It is a reminder that we too are all on this journey to heaven. We should never become complacent, but so often we do get too comfortable and lazy. All the reading and praying to find Christ shouldn't cease once we belong to the fold. We all have to continue our education in our faith and always continue growing in our prayer life. The Hound of Heaven doesn't just go after those outside of the Church, but continues his pursuit to all of us so that we will put Him as our first and only Love every day until our death.
Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler will aid those who are seeking to find their way home to the Catholic Church, but it also is a book for all of us who already are home but need to take a fresh look at our surroundings.
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