The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christby Andrew Klavan
No one was more surprised than Andrew Klavan when, at the age of fifty, he found himself about to be baptized. Best known for his hard-boiled, white-knuckle thrillers and for the movies made from them—among them True Crime (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Don’t Say a Word (starring Michael Douglas)—Klavan was born in a suburban Jewish enclave outside New York City. He left the faith of his childhood behind to live most of his life as an agnostic in the secular, sophisticated atmosphere of New York, London, and Los Angeles. But his lifelong quest for truth—in his life and in his work—was leading him to a place he never expected.I listened to this as read by the author. It was inspiring, as all conversion stories are, and worth reading for that aspect alone. However, this book was so much more. In the story of Andrew Klavan's dysfunctional family, the way literature and Western civilization led him to self discovery, and his descent into and ascent from madness, we are given the story of a truth seeker in an age of disbelief.
I found Klavan's story resonating in unexpected ways. Every conversion story is at once the same, in its discovery of ultimate truth and love, and at once unique, as is each person who discovers God. I knew I would find things that reminded me of my own journey and that showed me new facets of God's love in Klavan's experiences. What I did not know was how familiar his life story was to certain aspects of my own and how that actually helped me to understand myself better. My own difficult father was much less so than Klavan's, for example, but they were enough alike that Klavan's insights about his own personality enlightened me as well.
I will also say that his experience with prayer has haunted me, in a good way, and rejuvenated my search for closeness to God.
Much of the story was outside my own experience, of course, and I have to say that I really appreciated Klavan's feelings about his Jewish heritage which gave me insights that I'd not gotten from other sources.
Klavan is hard headed, questions himself and his experiences, and does not go easily into Christian faith or, indeed, into faith in God in general. I really liked that aspect because many of the objections he struggles with are precisely those which we have all been taught to raise these days. Whether one believes in Christ or not, no one can say that Klavan accepted him blindly. In fact, no one need worry that Klavan is trying to convince anyone else to believe. This story is strictly about his own experience.