I’ve never pre-ordered a book. But when Jen Fulwiler’s spiritual memoir Something Other Than God was available for pre-order on Amazon, I went for it. I’ve been a devoted reader of Jen’s blog Conversion Diary for years and I’ve followed her process of writing and re-writing and then teaming up with an amazing publisher (Ignatius Press!) to release this story.
But when my copy finally arrived, I wondered….can this book really stand up to the hype? What if turns into one of those horribly awkward situations when someone you really like creates something disappointing and I all I can say is, “Wow, Jen, you certainly wrote a book! It’s got chapters and pages! Lots of words in there! Good solid weight, too!”
I had to wonder for about 5 minutes, because by then I was completely engrossed. But I also had three tiny humans expecting me to feed, clothe, and keep them from life-threatening situations for several hours until Daniel came home from work. Why, oh, why did I start this book on a weekday morning?!
So, I acquiesced to the 2-year-old’s request to “wash the dishes.” Imagine dish soap and water splashing wildly all over the kitchen counter. I preemptively placed towels everywhere. She started singing a little original song that become our soundtrack for the rest of the day, “Gotta scwub des dishes….gotta scwub des dishes.” Then I brought out the Star Wars LEGO set I had been saving to entertain the 5-year-old and sat down at the kitchen table next to him with my book so I could read while keeping an eye on the Rogue Dish Washer and the toddling infant playing on the floor.
I read over a hundred pages in between LEGO crises and diaper changes and sandwich-making and I finished the book the following day. I wish I could afford to buy a copy for everyone I know, but at least I can send a copy to one of you. We’ll chat giveaway at the end of the post. Let’s talk about the book:
The subtitle to the memoir is: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It. And the title, Something Other Than God, comes from a C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity:
“All that we call human history…[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
The plot of this clever memoir follows Jen’s spiritual journey from Atheism to Catholicism. It’s laugh out loud funny, poignant, and beautifully crafted. But here’s what struck me: it’s a little window into how God’s grace is woven through our lives. That’s what this book is about–God’s grace–seen through the lens of one soul’s journey to find Him. Or perhaps more accurately, one soul being found by Him.
I love Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. One of my favorite passages comes when one character, Cordelia, recalls an evening she spent reading G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories with her family. The line she remembers is “I caught him (the thief) with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.” Cordelia explains that her spiritually lost family members will be drawn back to God by his grace. Their wandering isn’t hopeless because they belong to Him and his grace will bring them home.
When you read Jen’s memoir, God’s grace is woven through every page. And I imagine that a careful examination of all of our stories would reveal the subtle and grand gestures of a God in pursuit of us because against all odds, He loves us. And he will never stop seeking to draw our hearts to Him, though we may “wander to the ends of the world.”
If you’re looking for a book that makes you want to ignore your responsibilities and drop everything, pick up a copy of Something Other Than God. And lucky you, I have an extra copy to give away, so check out the rafflecopter widget below (if you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you may need to click over to the actual site to see the giveaway widget) and enter! I’ll mail the book to the winner (only U.S. residents, please.) Giveaway ends Thursday night at midnight EST (May 23).
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this review. I bought my own copy and loved it and wanted to share. I requested a giveaway copy for my readers which was complimentary from Carmel Communications.