Something Other Than God

This weekend I read Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler, who blogs at Conversion Diary. It’s her memoir, which details her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. I’m not sure how long I’ve been intermittently reading her blog, but it feels like I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for approximately forever.

In telling the story of her search for truth, the book deals wonderfully, critically, and very honestly with the big, hard questions about God, religion, and those details of specifically Catholic teaching that often make people uncomfortable (contraception, I’m looking at you). I literally both laughed out loud and well, I didn’t quite cry, but there were tears in my eyes at points in the book.

I can’t find the post to link it, but I remember reading in one of her posts that when Jen was an atheist, she used to use the term as almost a shortcut or code for saying she was intelligent. It’s an attitude I encounter a lot: of course I’m an atheist, I rely on
REASON rather than faith in fairy tales. Her intellectually rigorous, honest, and reluctant journey to the Church shows so beautifully that were never intended to leave reason outside when we enter the church.

No matter where you are in relation to God, to faith, to religion, to doubt, even complete rejection of it all – this book will meet you there. Who could not love following the faith journey of someone who “poured out the most sincere prayer [she] had ever said, for the soul of Tupac Shakur.”

I leave you with the book trailer.

Preparing for Christmas in the home

Preparing for Christmas in the home

It’s November! This is generally when I declare it time to listen to Christmas music. I have a super duper love of everything Christmas, which usually leads to starting everything way too early: the planning, the shopping, the decorating, the listening to Christmas music… Yes, I’m totally one of THOSE people.

As a Catholic convert, I’ve grown to really appreciate the way the Church celebrates Advent as its own season, quietly waiting and preparing while the rest of the world is hurled headlong into Christmas celebration, largely tiring of it by the time the actual Christmas season arrives. This year, I’m going to make a point of slowing down and not rushing into the season before its time…. we will at least wait until it’s properly Advent to begin decorating and listening to the Christmas tunes. (Gifts hopefully WILL be taken care of before Advent, however, especially non-homemade gifts. It’s so much nicer if Advent is a season of preparing, not shopping. Having a few handmade gifts to finish seems more than appropriate, however.) It won’t be easy for me, but that’s what it’s all about, right? Learning to be present in the season you’re in, not always reaching for the next. (Actually, bit of a loophole discovered here after first drafting this: we will need to listen to the music for the church Christmas pageant so the girls can learn it. This does not upset me.)

Inspired by ideas gleaned from Pinterest such as this Advent calendar and this Christmas bucket, I’ve come up with a plan for an Advent calendar for our house. I’m thinking we’ll just have a box with a stack of blank-inside Christmas cards in the kitchen. I’ll make one for each day of Advent, and write a little activity for the day inside. Honestly, even after much searching for idea help, I had a whole lot of trouble coming up with activities that I thought I could for-sure follow through on. How sad is that? I work retail, which unfortunately amounts to some late nights during Christmas shopping season. I came up with a list, though, and with a little planning ahead of time, I think this will be fun for all of us. My list is here; it’s very much based on our personal schedule – the days Alan will be working and the nights I expect to be working late, but you could certainly borrow from it if you wish.

Reading will definitely be a big part of our Advent and Christmas season. We love Christmas books in this house. We love them so much that it seemed we read them all the time. With a bit of sadness I quietly packed them away after Christmas last year, lest they begin to loose some of that special feeling from being read all year long. I’ve actually had to get a couple of them out already through the year because someone was desperately searching for a specific one. I am sure when I dig the rest them out with our decorations on that first Sunday of Advent, everyone will be delighted. Although we have a lovely collection, I still like to add one or two special Christmas books each season. This post is a wonderful resource that I’ve used to choose some contenders for this year’s additions.