Originally posted at Strange Notions.
In Augustine’s Confessions, the first Western autobiography ever written, we discover the probing journey of a brilliant man, traveling through a maze of philosophies before emerging into the light of Christianity. The destination brought him to tears for though he sensed Christianity to be true, it was the last place he expected to turn.
Years later, when Oxford professor C.S. Lewis embarked on his own pursuit of truth, he too ended up at Christianity, converting with great hesitancy: “I gave in, and admitted that God was God … perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
And then there was Jennifer Fulwiler. When Jennifer stood in a Catholic Church on Easter 2007, preparing to become Catholic, there was hardly a more unlikely convert. Born and raised in a skeptical home, which valued Carl Sagan more than Jesus, Jennifer developed an ardent atheism. She rejected God and joyously mocked religion.
But then she met Joe. Joe was brilliant. He had multiple degrees from Ivy League institutions and was rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. Yet, strangely, he identified as a Christian. “How could such a smart man believe something so ridiculous?” Jennifer wondered.
That led her to rigorously examine the claims of Christianity, if only to prove them wrong. She gorged on books. She frequented online comment boxes and discussion boards. She even started a blog which invited Christians to counter her atheism. This painstaking research, combined with difficult questions about meaning, death, and existence, slowly led Jennifer to believe that God existed, and even more that Jesus was God in the flesh. Though obviously troubling, she could have accepted this “mere Christianity” and moved on. But after exploring many Protestant churches, she distressingly realized that the evidence was pushing her toward a far more unsettling destination: the Catholic Church.
Like Augustine and Lewis before her, Jennifer recounts her compelling journey of conversion through a colorful and stirring memoir, Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It (Ignatius Press). The book’s deep soul, humor, and addictive readability help explain why Dean Koontz admitted to enjoying the entire book in just one sitting.
I recently sat down with Jennifer to discuss how she moved from atheism to Catholicism, what books influenced her journey, and why she describes her conversion as “a discovery of a long lost home.”
1:14 – Were you really an atheist growing up?
2:57 – What was one of the first chinks in your atheist armor?
4:41 – Can you describe your first attempts at prayer?
6:51 – What suggestions would you have for an unconvinced atheist?
Follow Jennifer’s writing at her website and read her many articles at Strange Notions. Also, be sure to pick up her magnificent new book, Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It.