Saturday, December 15, 2007

Converts 'R' Us

Aramis and I often reflect on the way that the ideas of French scholar René Girard, refracted through the writings and talks given primarily by mentor and, by the grace of God, friend, Gil Bailie, helped lead us to our conversion to the Catholic Church. This is a conundrum that will continue to fascinate and call for prayerful meditation for many years to come.

But here I want to make note of something slightly less anthropological and more theological. It is the fact that, for me, certain literary mentors are more helpful to me than others. I cannot place my finger on the reason for this, and I feel a certain degree of embarrassment in saying so.

Let me give just three examples: I read with the utmost respect the words of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in his Jesus of Nazareth, but I sense that -- right now, mind you -- his words do not resonate within me. Likewise, Father John McCloskey, III has penned a great and important work, Good News, Bad News - Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith, that addresses pastorally and sensitively the way to speak about the Catholic Church with skeptics, fall-away Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians. I know to my core that it is a vital work for today, but, again, my antenna seems pointed a bit askew to its signals. But Scott Hahn's new book, Reasons to Believe, evokes an inner series of "Yes!" "Yes!" "Yes!" affirmatives that make me want to sit at this fellow's feet and digest this material because I KNOW it will be useful for me and my situation (he continues the plodding and rather flat-footed pun sub-headings, but I overlook that).

I can only hope that the Holy Spirit will open similar doors of perception within me to the wisdom of the Holy Father and Fr McCloskey. But for now, it is with a fellow convert that my non-fiction catechesis continues. Here is an hors d'oeuvre:
...the laws of God, like the law of gravity, do not depend upon how I feel about them. They are inexorable, and God has willed them to be knowable, even in the absence of strong emotion or apparent miracles ...


Porthos said...

Scott Hahn's Letter and Spirit is en route now, along with an armload of others, including your Jesus by Benedict, Therese's The Story of a Soul, Fr. Schwager's (Aramis' perpetual recommendation) Banished from Eden, and bunch of Theology of the Body stuff by Christopher West.

I am much the same way about books not speaking to me at particular times. In fact, little material has been speaking to me at all for ove a year, except short daily readings from the Imitation, and the same from a Therese devotional.

Here's hoping that with this incoming batch I can kick start my inner book appreciation module. I'm skeptically hopeful.

Scott Hahn is possibly even better at speaking than writing--a superb communicator and great teacher. Check out his stuff at EWTN's audio archives

(type "Scott Hahn" in the keyword search box)

I think I read most of his, but not Reasons to Believe. My favorite was The Lamb's Supper, and after that they didn't grab me as much, and I preferred to get the same book talk-style from his parallel series with Mike Aquilina (most of them downloadable or streamable from the link above). Hail Holy Queen was another good one, but the audio presentation was better in that case, too!

Anyway, Hahn is a treasure!

Henry Karlson said...

If you want something good but challenging, pick up Pavel Florensky's Pillar and Ground of Truth.

While Florenksy shows an occasional anti-Catholic bias (he was Russian Orthodox), as a whole, the work is one of the most beautifully written theological treatises I've ever read; when I am in the rut, it is one I often turn to. His style is a treasure to behold - and yet the substance is also great.

JPII liked to reference him, like in his letter to artists (Florensky was a polymath: scientist, priest, theologian, artist, linguist, etc). He was also a martyr for the faith.

Henry Karlson said...


Google books has it up here:,M1

Try to scroll down beyond the introduction to "page 5"