Rome Sweet Home

When the priest learns you’re a reader (basically by trade), you’re in trouble. You can almost see the list of books scrolling through his mind at that moment, not wanting to bombard you with too much right away. Even though you would read that endless list of books. (Don’t tell him I said that. Not yet…)

After narrowing down the endless options—and after the Bible itself—he offered Scott & Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. A conversion story? Of course I’m going to be into this, doubly so because they were previously anti-Catholic, Bible-thumping Evangelicals.

We love telling our conversion stories. We love sharing how “stupid” we were, or the depths of our grief before coming to God. And we love hearing them, too, because it brings a sense of pride. Here are our friends, finally learning the truth. But I’m reading this book, and I’m also laughing. Because each conversion story is different, with the spectrum of human experience and emotion, but they’re also all the same.

future convert: Let me share this awesome discovery I made!
Catholic friend: …that is literally what the Church teaches.
future convert: NO IT’S NOT

I’m only halfway through this book. I haven’t even reached their conversion yet. But I’m already so into this. Because it’s their unique story, with all their unique doubts and struggles… but it’s also so, so familiar.

Story of Christianity

I picked up this book several months ago. I was determined to learn the real, unbiased truth, outside the filter of any denomination, an actual historical account of my own faith. If I’m going to follow a church, I’m going to follow one that has roots in Jesus’s teachings. In one that spawned from his direct command. So I asked my sister, a newly-achieved Ph.D. of theology, what I should read. “A loaded question,” she replied, and then linked me to this 400-page tome.

I bought the book, and it sat on my coffee table for a month before I finally opened it.

It’s good. It’s factual without being overwhelming, and it’s presented in a way that’s easy for this non-theologian to understand. But it’s also overwhelming. Because I want to understand all of it. I want to know what happened after the canon of the Gospels. These are the things I often wondered, never considering that the history had actually been recorded. And that I’d be able to learn it.

Obviously history had been recorded in some sense. But from my Bible-only religious education, it didn’t seem feasible that there was anything after the Bible.

Until, of course, I started to look.