I asked Kevin to share a bit about his new book, How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church, here on Pursued by Truth. I wrote an endorsement for the book and really enjoyed this memoir/ apologetics /spirituality book. A fascinating story and a great combination of all my favorite writing genres! – Sr. Theresa Aletheia
When I was a kid, my dad was a Presbyterian minister. We lived in a manse (a house for the minister and his family) right next to the church. Despite my struggles living up to the expectations of a “preacher’s kid,” I remember the tolerance and caring of many good people in our local congregation.
My best friend was a preacher’s kid too. His dad was the minister at the local United Church of Canada. I went there a couple times, and remember many good people in that church as well.
In eighth grade, I went to a new school. It was Pentecostal. Some of the kids were from the large Pentecostal church that sponsored the school, but there was also a large contingent of Baptists. Good people.
Later in high school, my struggles having turned into full-scale adolescent rebellion, I was sent to a boarding school. A Quaker boarding school, as it happened. While you might expect this to cause at least a minor case of spiritual whiplash, I managed to escape any serious deleterious effects through equal parts of aloofness, ignorance, and narcissism. There were good people there, though. Mere tolerance of my behavior as a teenager probably constituted heroic virtue.
Next stop? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? I went to a small Catholic college. Being from Canada, I recall gleefully rubbing my hands together, imagining the possibility of going to school in a different country, many hours away from mom and dad, in a place where class attendance was optional and beer was darn near free.
I wonder now whether my dad was gleefully rubbing his hands together, imagining the possibility of me going to a school in a different country, many hours away from my parents. Dad insists that wasn’t the case… but I digress.
As it turned out, despite the moderate culture shock associated with leaving my homeland, and Tiber hopping – at least to visit – the experience wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of good people at the small Catholic college too.
Good people everywhere. Good, sincere people. But one thing didn’t compute. All these good people had radically different beliefs.
At the time, the only denomination I felt safe dismissing in its entirety was Catholicism. This sentiment was reinforced when the good people at the small Catholic college kicked me out after a mere three semesters – apparently my notion of classes being optional wasn’t entirely true.
So how do I now find myself not only Catholic, but gratefully, enthusiastically, and committedly so? With eight kids, and a rosary in my car that I use for prayer rather than decoration? Let me tell you, it took a long time. A looooong time.
Short answer: merciful Catholics let me re-enroll in the college a couple years later. Dad spent a year there as a visiting Professor. I met a beautiful American girl. We read Humanae Vitae. Dad visited the Vatican and met Pope John Paul II. The beautiful American girl said yes. A guy named Scott Hahn gave me a rosary. I prayed it. I finally took a look at the Church through new eyes, and was astonished at what I found. I said yes.
If you’re interested in a more thorough version of the story, along with a discussion about several of the stumbling blocks I had to overcome along the journey, take a look at my new book, How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church. I hope you read it, and pass it along to the good people in your life who view the Church through a skeptical lens. I did too, for a long time – but now that I’m Catholic, I’ve never felt more at home.
Kevin Lowry is the author of How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church and Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck. His website is gratefulconvert.com.