Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You Can Share the Faith by Karen Edmisten

I lived for a long time without knowing why I was living. Now that I have claimed Christ as my core, I want what Thoreau sought: a deliberate life. I want to live with conviction, love, and purpose, the knowledge of who I am and what I believe. Since becoming a Catholic, my life is still unquestionably full of twists and turns, alarming developments, chaotic days and sometimes anguished nights, but I can say with certainty: I know who I am. I live deliberately and with mystery.
This book resonated with me from page one. I don't know how Karen Edmisten managed to write a book that sounds as if I gave her notes on what I'd write myself, but she did. Her life story is different from mine, but her Catholic way of life is precisely what I answer when people ask me "how to" be a Happy Catholic. Easy to read, accessible, and thoroughly Catholic,  this is a perfect book to begin during the Easter season and carry into ordinary time. (It's still Easter until May 16!)

The chapter titles themselves are good bits of advice that I often bring up when deep in conversations with people who feel overwhelmed about how to live the Catholic life, reach out to friends, change the world ... in short, how to tell the Good News. We've got to think about it in small pieces, not as one gigantic project, and those chapters point the way. Here are a few:
  • Do Hang Out With All Kinds of People
  • Do Be Honest About Your Own Struggles
  • Do Engage the Culture
  • Don't Forget That Words Matter
  • Don't Limit the Definition of a Personal Relationship
  • Don't Pretend the Pilgrim Church is Perfect
I could go on, but you get the point. These are straight forward, practical tips for how to share your spiritual life with those around you. It's also loaded with lots of quotes (I told you this is my kind of book) that help make the point. I'm making it sound like a "how to" book but it is much more since Edmisten tells us about her life and conversion. These serve as examples  of both "how to" and "how not to" (I love an honest author) as well as providing thought provoking points for our own lives.
When I first became a Christian and abandoned my old pro-choice views, Tom and I initially engaged in screaming matches over my newly adopted opinions. When I finally realized my screaming was fruitless (imagine that!), I switched to quiet discussion and witnessing. I prayed the Lord would lead Tom to the truth in another way. I wasn't surprised that, in having our own children, his heart softened. But I was surprised by his reaction to a rereading of the classic novel Brave New World. [...]

When Tom reread Brave New World for the first time since becoming the father of two beloved little girls, he was stunned by his reaction. He was stopped cold at a passage he'd read many times but that had never affected him so chillingly. He read the description of babies, mass-produced in bottles, and reduced to nothing more than utilitarian objects. [...]

Tom felt a creeping sense of horror as he saw the brave new world of reproductive freedom very differently than he ever had before.
I especially love the overarching points about fully engaging the culture and making friends everywhere. We can't hunker down and keep this goodness to ourselves. We've gotta live our normal lives out there in the world, showing through our actions that our lives now are lived deliberately.

This book will help you do that. And help you to embrace your own faith more deeply. Get it. Read it.

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