So, I have been
It is now July 18th as I write this, and I still.do.not.have.the.book. This is a real problem with ebooks in public libraries, imo. People do not necessarily "return" the book when they're done reading it the way they do with print books. So the loan period is always reaching it's max before the next person in line can have the book. Granted, the loan period is shorter with ebooks than it is for print, but the waiting lists for ebooks is absolutely absurd. You can wait *months* for popular titles, and it is not nearly that bad with their print counterparts.
Anyway, enough complaining about that. Just under 2 weeks ago, I moved to #1 in the queue. The maximum borrowing period for an ebook is 14 days. So, by mathematical certainly, I will have the book Friday. (**edited to add that on July 19th, I now have the book! *streamers!*)
In the meantime, I was able to score a preview of the book that allowed me to read the foreword, Introduction, chapter 1, and part of chapter 2. My thought is that this will serve as the introductory post to our book club, and then next week we'll discuss the remainder of Part 1, and then Part 2 on August 2nd. I know that I could just purchase the ebook and have immediate access to it. But at this point, it's an official Point of Pride that I await the library copy. :0 All right, ready to discuss the concept and beginning of this book?
I noted right off the bat that the foreword was written by Scott Hahn, a Catholic apologist whose conversion story I'm very familiar with. He and his wife's book, Rome Sweet Home, was a huge influence in my own faith walk in my twenties. Let's have a quick moment with definitions, shall we? Apologetics:
reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine
So, when we speak of Catholic apologetics, and Catholic apologists, we are speaking of men and women who dedicate time to defending our faith in an academic sense. Such work can be very instrumental in drawing others to the Church.
We learn quickly that like Dr. Hahn, our author, Kevin Lowry, is a former Presbyterian. Growing up in the haven of cradle, cultural, Catholicism that I did, I was very unfamiliar with Protestant denominations growing up. As a young adult, one of my fascinations with reading conversion stories was learning about the faith background of others that differed from my own. In all cases, the authors were grateful for their Protestant upbringing and had nothing but respect for the Christian values that it instilled. Which is is as it should be, and very pleasing to my empathetic heart.
As we move into the Introduction, our author emphasizes to us how unexpected his conversion was, and how conversion should, in a sense, be a daily occurrence, even for cradle Catholics.We should not become stagnant in our faith, and take it for granted. Regular conversion of heart is key to our spiritual sustenance.
I love the way that he starts chapter 1, with an overview of a crucial moment in time: his baptism at age 25. He had not previously been baptized in the Presbyterian church, so this sacrament was also his initiation into the Catholic faith. We find out that his parents are devout Presbyterians, his father a minister, but they support his decision to convert. We also find out that his wife is being received into the Church alongside him, but he was unsure as to whether or not she would decide to do this until the very last minute.
He recalls that when he first started attending Mass, the community seemed "cold" to him, and I understand what he means in that the culture in Catholic parishes is very different from what I hear others relate about their churches. Catholicism oftentimes is deeply ingrained into a community's culture, and it can become insular. It's not ill intended, but I think that for someone who is new or visiting the community, it can feel off-putting, especially if they are used to a church with greeters and tons of small group fellowship opportunities.
After this exciting whirlwind of thoughts, the author then moves into story of how he came to this crucial event. Chapter 2 begins with the author describing himself as a cocky teenager who did not take to heart the deep Christian faith of his parents. He grew up in Toronto (hey neighbor!), and as he began to explore colleges in late high school, his father suggests the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Dun dun DUN!
This is obviously where he met Dr. Hahn (who has taught theology there for many years), and heralds the beginning of his interest in Catholicism, one would think. And did his father know that the vibrant faith alive at this campus would dramatically impact his son, even if it was not within Presbyterianism? But this is also where my sample ended, so I'm on pins and needles waiting for my turn with the ebook. :0
The waiting list for the ebook at my public library now has 4 people on it, I'll have you know. I like to think that my purchase request was it's own little form of apologetics. ;-)
What were your thoughts on the very beginning of this conversion story? Has formal apologetics had an impact on your own faith journey? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. We'll fully discuss Part 1 next Thursday on July 26th!