As I was reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, Something Other Than God, I kept having the strangest feeling of deja vu…the feelings of satisfaction and gratification as I finished each chapter were so familiar to me.
Then it hit me – the feelings I had from this book were very similar to the ones I experienced more than ten years ago when I read Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home.
In retrospect that seems very fitting, because in my opinion, Something Other Than God will probably bring as many conversions from atheists and agnostics looking for truth, as Rome Sweet Home did for Protestants in the 90s.
There are 10 reasons I really loved this book. Spoiler alert!
1. It’s a fun read.
Jennifer isn’t a theologian or a heavily degreed bible scholar. She writes from the perspective of just a regular Jane trying to get along in the world and figure it all out. After a brief experience in summer camp as a kid, she takes us to her early adult years, in her first grown up job after college, with all of the joys and problems of the early 20s. Throughout the book Jennifer shares her real life struggles and how she dealt with them as a young married woman and then as a new mom. She’s totally relatable in all of these roles because she’s able to look at herself and laugh even when things got ridiculously hard. During the darkest moments, what shines through Jennifer’s words is hope.
2. I loved that starting a blog and engaging with readers enabled Jen to learn more about Christianity and the Catholic Church.
Regular lay Catholics who were educated about their faith helped Jen discover the fullness of the Christianity for herself. This is the new evangelization at its best!
3. Regular Catholics in real life helped Jen’s journey as well.
In one chapter Jen describes a woman coming up to her in the church hall and inviting her to RCIA! Sometimes something as simple as giving an invitation is all that it takes to help someone along the way of their faith journey.
4. Jen’s search for God starts at an old family creek full of fossils, with the realization that her earthly remains will go through a similar fate.
If life is just for now, if death comes to us all, what is the point of life? The age old question jumps out at her in the midst of the nature and the creation around her.
Catechism Catholic Church 280 Creation is the foundation of “all God’s saving plans,
5. I have a love of cemeteries and looking at grave stones and wondering about the people in the graves.
In one of my favorite parts of the book Jennifer wanders through a familiar cemetery and sees stories and events she hadn’t really seen in all of her visits before. This sets the stage for her own “Job” moment and is a turning point in her faith story.
6. One of the best parts of the book for me was the revelation that her grandparents had been Catholic.
This knowledge, I believe helped sustain Jen on her journey towards the Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder if I did a good job passing the faith on to my own children. Jennifer’s story gives me hope that the faith of grandparents, even when they are deceased, can still reach through the generations to touch our everyday lives.
7. Jen was pro-choice before she came into the Church.
This was a good opportunity for me, a life-long pro-life Catholic to understand the arguments for abortion from the other side without the political rhetoric that usually follows such a discussion.
8. The big jump after accepting the existence of God, is coming to terms with Jesus Christ.
Jen does a wonderful job in sharing some of the books she used (such as C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity) to read herself into accepting Jesus as an historical figure first and then eventually as the savior.
9. Jen shares one anecdote about how she and her husband had pages of early Church history…
…and information on how the liturgy was done with them, so that they could refer to it during their first Mass. They were excited and amazed as everything in their first century liturgy list happened during the modern mass. The early Church, the church Christ founded, continues in the Traditions of the Catholic Church today – and that is a powerful witness.
10. How do you know you’re on the right track? The devil will try to sidetrack you!
The hair on the back of my neck stood up when Jen got up to call the church to start RCIA and was immediately felled by an intense pain in her leg! Coincidence? I think not.
This is the type of book I would feel very comfortable recommending to younger people who are exploring the church, particularly young women.
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Copyright 2014, Elena LaVictoire