This weeks interview is with Chad Torgerson author of Waking Up Catholic : A Guide to Catholic Beliefs for Converts, Reverts, and Anyone Becoming Catholic. You can find my review of that book here.
Q: Your book Waking Up Catholic is part conversion story. Could you give my readers an overview of your conversion and how you came to the Catholic faith?
A: My journey actually began back in 1997 when I first found Christ and considered myself born again. For more than a decade, my life was a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and my faith went through similar highs and lows. At times, I was a passionate, on-fire Christian, but at other times, you would hardly know I had any faith at all. I lacked a strong foundation to my spiritual life, and it caused me to stumble repeatedly. I struggled to commit to my faith. I struggled to get connected to a church. I struggled to make Christ the center of my life.
One day, my brother-in-law invited me to a Notre Dame football game. I know that some may doubt the “Catholicity” of the school at this point, but the people I met there were as Catholic as they come. Surrounded by a campus filled with religious imagery and a community of people that were warm and inviting, I had found the Church I was looking for. For the first time, I saw the Catholic Church as the foundation that my faith needed all those years.
The journey from there was more spiritual and emotional than theological. That is why my heart, passion, and even a few poor attempts at humor come out in everything I write.
At the end of the book, I go into a lot more depth about my story that goes beyond a single football game. I hope that your readers will get a chance to enjoy it.
Q: What did you find to be the greatest hurdle for you during your conversion?
A: If I could list the three main hurdles I had to overcome during my conversion, they would be me, myself, and I. When I began the process, I was convinced that I would find something so heretical that I could not become Catholic. At first, I thought it might be something about the Blessed Virgin or the saints, but as I worked my way through Catholic teaching, I could not find anything of the sort.
The more I explored the depths and beauties of Catholicism, the more I loved it.
I went into the RCIA process with a host of doubts and fears and came out with a renewed passion for my faith. If I could offer advice to anyone else going through the program (or considering it), I would tell them to open their heart to what God is trying to share with them. Now, that may not sound new to anyone, but it’s not lip service. God has a beautiful plan for each of us – as long as we are willing to get out of His way and let it happen.
Q: My personal take on this book is that it can be used as an informal catechism of sorts. Was that your intent when writing it?
A: In a sense, yes. My goal was to give a Reader’s Digest view of some of the topics I personally struggled with – topics I assume others struggle with, as well. I wanted people to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Picking up a 900-page Catechism can be daunting for anyone to find answers, so I wanted to point them in the right direction.
Throughout the book, there are references to both the Catechism and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, which I used to validate my points and to help teach the reader how to find the information in those sources themselves. I am a big believer in the “teach a man to fish” principle. The goal with all of my writing, both in print and online, is to help people discover the beauties of our faith on their own.
Most importantly, I hope that Waking Up Catholic is more than a book that people want to read; I hope it’s a book they will want to share as an evangelistic tool with someone who needs Christ and an introduction to the Catholic faith.
Q: You also run a website by the same name at http://www.wakingupcatholic.com/. Would you like to describe what visitors can find there?
A: The site started out a few years ago with the same goal as the book: provide answers to the basic questions anyone new to Catholicism may have. It is broken down by individual topics, and includes special information for anyone going through RCIA. The site covers more topics than the book but less in-depth. From the beginning, the website and book were meant to go hand-in-hand. The website would bring in readers from around the web who were looking for answers, and the book would take the most popular topics and explore them a little deeper.
Over time, one of the most popular sections on the site became the Daily Bible Verses. This started out as a weekly reflection on a portion of Scripture that touched me that week. After a number of requests, I made this a daily exercise. It has helped me to hone my craft as a writer and learn even more about Scripture. Now, I have a regular routine of working through the Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book on Mondays through Fridays, a reflection on Sunday’s Gospel which posts on Saturday (a day to prepare), and a special message each Sunday.
My goal with the site, just like the book, is to help people learn and study the faith themselves. I simply provide them a guide. I am not a theologian, Bible scholar, or anything of the sort; I am an average guy, just like them, fumbling his way through life and faith. I have found a passion for reading Scripture, and I hope I can pass that along to them.
Q: Are there any other book projects in your future?
A: Definitely. My wife and I started Assisi Media with long-term plans – not just for my books, but for others, as well. Our hope is that we can help other authors struggling to find a voice become published, especially those interested in providing resources for new or just returning Catholics. That is our passion. Our goal is to sell Catholic books to people that may not consider themselves Catholic (yet). The publishers we talked to considered this a worthy (albeit possibly insane) goal, but one they were not interested in. Alas, Assisi Media was born.
As for my own projects, I have about 8 to 10 ideas stirring around in my head. One of which would be a sequel to Waking Up Catholic that would address some of the topics not covered in the first book. Same style. Same purpose. Different topics.
For any book I publish, it would be focused on one lay Catholic having a conversation with another. There are plenty of authors and religious scholars providing theology textbooks out there. My goal is to help people make their faith more personal.
Q: Time for my signature ending question. This is a blog about books. What is currently on your bookshelf to read?
A: Like any avid Catholic reader, there are more books on the “to-read” shelf than I can find time for. Here are a few:
Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) – Two popes. One book. Enough said.
The New Evangelization and You by Greg Willits – As a former non-denominational Christian, I have a passion for evangelizing, and Willits does a fine job of making it relevant in the Catholic Church.
Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel – Notice a theme? This is the one book on this list I haven’t started yet, but I look forward to reading Weigel’s take on the subject.
The ‘One Thing’ is Three by Fr. Michael Gaitley – I had the pleasure of meeting him, and this was the book that he poured years of passion into. Definitely worth the read.
What Jesus Really Said About the End of the World by David B. Currie – During my Protestant days, I read a number of books on prophecy but found it amazing how none of them could agree. Now, I am looking forward to reading the Catholic view on the subject.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers. I enjoyed the interview. May God continue to bless this blog and its readers.