Thursday, July 26, 2018

Summer Book Club 2018 - Spotlight on Catholic apologetics, Part I...

Here we are, at last ready for the entire first part of our Summer Book Club, as we read How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church, by Kevin Lowry! We had an introduction to the book last week, but I *finally* procured my library ebook copy. I actually read this book in a few days, so I returned my library copy such that the next person on the waiting list could have it.


So, what are we waiting for? Let's dive in!

The author divided up his story into 2 parts, with this first one being devoted to background information on his life, and his conversion story. I truly loved his story. Memoirs have always fascinated me - we all have a story to tell, and they are all compelling! Of course, they have to be told in a way that holds our attention, and Kevin does that beautifully with his funny and endearing narrative.

By his own description, he was a somewhat rebellious teenager who did not take the deeply ingrained Presbyterian faith of his parents very seriously. Nor does he take his college education very seriously, at least at first. His father is the one who suggests the Franciscan University of Steubenville, interestingly, and encourages him to attend there. While they are there touring the campus, Kevin sneaks away with his fake i.d. to procure beer and generally act in ways that teenagers do that make us cringe. These are things that we all either did, or thought were cool, at the exact same age, but now make us flare our nostrils and talk about how youth is wasted on the young. One thing I was confused about that the author does not clarify is why he starting attending college at age 16? Maybe he was homeschooled?

So he gets accepted, but his immaturity and general lack of wisdom (which we are all afflicted with at this stage of our lives; such painful memories! :0) cause him to make poor choices. He doesn't do his school work and gets very poor grades. He drinks a lot of beer and has a frightening experience in which he has no memory of an entire night. He does not attend church and his spiritual life is totally adrift. He flunks out of Franciscan University.

While he was there, he DOES meet very nice students, and many of his experiences cause him to wonder what it is about their Catholic faith that draws them to it. One morning after Sunday morning Mass lets out, he finally approaches the chapel, but does not go in. He feels an unmistakable peace, and is confused about it. He still thinks that Catholics are a bit odd and does not pursue it at this point, but I related very much to his story at this juncture. I felt that peace outside of a Catholic college chapel too, right before my reversion of heart back to the faith, while I was law school in my twenties.

So he goes to work back home in Toronto and matures a bit. Eventually, he wants to return to college, but finds that his nearly nonexistent grade point average is going to make this very difficult for him. He realizes that returning to Franciscan is truly his best shot at ever getting a college degree, and he pleads his case. They allow him to return under strict academic conditions, and he works very hard to meet them. He does so, and also meets a woman who will become his wife, Kathi. She too is not Catholic.

Ultimately, they graduate, marry and start a family together. They seek out a spiritual home, and Kevin begins to be bothered by how difficult this is, and how different each of the churches is. He eventually contact Scott Hahn for a chat, and Dr. Hahn gives him a rosary to pray. This is the beginning of the end of Kevin being a non-Catholic. :0

I was expecting that he would take Dr. Hahn's classes at Steubenville, and that this was partly what led to his conversion, but that isn't what happened from what I can glean. Although his heart softened towards Catholics during his time at Franciscan University, and he became intrigued by the fervor he saw in his Catholic classmates, all of the research he did that ultimately led to his conversion happened AFTER he graduated. Scott Hahn became his sponsor when he was baptized and confirmed into the faith. We knew that Kathi also decided to come into the Church with Kevin, but we also find out that Kevin's parents too become Catholic at a later time! So, obviously his dad had a soft spot for the Church all along.

I enjoy conversion stories, and this one is no exception. I found the story poignant and touching, and I laughed out loud in places. It was a joy to read. What were your thoughts on this part of the book?

Next week we will move into the main obstacles Kevin faced as a Presbyterian contemplating the Catholic Church, and how he overcame them. Join us again then!


  1. I also really enjoyed reading about his college years and his slow road to Catholicism. In particular, I'm impressed he was able to call up Franciscan University after flunking out the first time and convincing them to give him another chance. That takes guts. The big takeaway I got from the first section of the book is that our faith is a lifelong journey. Nobody gets it right the first, second, or even hundredth time. That's definitely something I struggle with and reading about his own struggles was pretty inspirational for me.

    1. Hey Kevin, so glad to get your thoughts! I agree; it took moxie to get things straightened out and back on track with Franciscan, lol! So glad he was able to do that. I really found his youthful struggles relatable, because I know my age was an obstacle to my faith at one time as well! I like your point about getting it right - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again! :)

  2. I am really enjoying this book. One thing I found odd was he took all this time talking about his college experience. Getting in, flunking out, working, and going back but not a whole lot really happenned in terms of his faith. Then I felt the last chapter or so was super rushed. They went to a church felt at peace and became catholic. Maybe in Part 2 we'll learn more about the process hopefully because I was really confused. LOL

    He was from Canada maybe they finish high school earlier there? Or he graduated early? I remember when I was in high school A LOT of kids graduated early. It actually wasn't that hard to graduate a year early.

    I thought it was cool when his dad started teaching at Franciscan. I'm really enjoying this book. Can't wait to find out what happnens in Part 2!!

    1. Hey Beth Anne! So yes, I agree with you. I loved the drawn out narrative at the beginning, because I so enjoy life stories. Then once he returned to Franciscan and we got to *really* juicy stuff - meeting his future wife, his heart softening towards the Church, Humanae Vitae's role in all this, marriage and did move a lot faster. I wanted lots more detail on the specifics of his change of heart! I've already read part 2, and...I'll be *very* curious for your thoughts next week!


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