Something Other Than God: a book review

I distinctly remember thinking, at the height of my debaucherous, morally relativistic college career, that no one in his/her right mind would convert to Catholicism.  Born and raised a Catholic, I wasn’t planning to leave the Church, though.  I was born with the crazy and I figured I’d stick with it.  It had kind of grown on me after all that indoctrination, right?   But for someone to convert to a religion of restrictions and rules?  There’s not a sane person in the world who would do that… or was there?

Why, yes, that is my dirty un-manicured thumb, thankyouverymuchforasking.

According to Jennifer Fulwiler, author of Something Other Than God and blogging diva at Conversion Diary, some reasonable people do in fact convert to Catholicism.  Go figure.

Thoughts on content:

As a Catholic who now has a great deal more respect for the Church than I did back in college, it’s interesting to me how many barriers people have against Catholicism.  Growing up atheist, Jen had about as many as you can imagine.  Through her life experiences, her search for happiness, and with the companionship of her smart, funny, hard-working husband, those barriers came crumbling down, one by one.

It’s like vitamins for my faith when I read conversion stories, and Jen’s book is like a mega-dose.  I never had to claw my way into believing in God, much less the Catholic Church.  (Sure, I’ve wrestled with the difficult topics like everyone else, but I come from a Catholic “home base,” so I feel like I got a head start.)  Jen, however, truly did some intellectual heavy-lifting in order to move past the principles of atheism and moral relativism.  What she found in the Church wasn’t the oppressive totalitarianism she’d expected, but an ancient institution that had a much bigger, much more complex picture of humanity than just the hot-button issues.  To see that someone so far outside my faith can find their way into it using reason and intellect is that mega-dose I mentioned above.

It is incredible to read the steps that Jen took towards God, with Him waiting patiently for her to find her way. She had a longing in her heart for happiness, which she quenched for awhile with worldly pleasures.  But anyone who reads her blog knows that Jen isn’t the type of person who’s happy with the superficial, so she kept digging and digging for answers.  Even when they weren’t what she wanted, or what she expected, she plugged along until she arrived at a solution.

This story is ultimately a love story: of Jen’s love for her parents, of falling in love with her husband and then with their son, of their little family ultimately falling in love with God and then with His Church.

Thoughts on the style:

Jen’s blog is smart, interesting and damn witty.  The book is as well, but with a good deal more depth.  It would be easy, I suppose, for someone of Jen’s blogging experience and writing know-how to rely on chapters that read like blog posts, but she doesn’t take the lazy route.  The book flows well, and reads like the highly-entertaining memoir it is.  There are moments of genuine anguish, of enlightenment, and of surrender.  There are also moments of hilarity and embarrassment.  Jen can weave a story like nobody’s business, and she does so very well in this book.

I’m a pretty fast reader, but even by my standards, I finished this in record time: 32 hours from package received to turning the last page.  Considering the crazy that is my home, the most exhausting pregnancy ever, and the fact that we had BOTH Little Flowers AND American Heritage Girls on the day I finished (complete with embroidery projects and badge presentations for the girls that day) this was a miracle.

I take that back, it wasn’t a miracle.  Because SOTG is precisely that excellent, and exactly that readable.

So go buy Jennifer’s book.  Borrow it from a friend.  Request it at your library.  But get your hands on this book, because I think it will be enlightening to everyone.  To Catholics strong in their faith, and to those who waver, to atheists who cannot for the life of them see the draw of the Church, to Christians who can’t see exactly why anyone would be a Catholic Christian, I highly recommend this book.

Linking up with Jessica, the spiciest housewife on the block, for this week’s What We’re Reading Wednesday.


  1. Mom Spencer says:

    Nice review, Micaela, even I say it. Love you, Mom

  2. Yes! Well said. All of the things you write about a “Catholic home base” and a head start, yup. Same here.
    Jessica @ housewifespice recently posted…WWRW: Five Fast Books for BoysMy Profile

  3. I had to slow myself down reading it because I was almost done with it the first night I got it! I just kept saying “one more chapter” and then 2 hours later… Yikes! Too good!
    Rosie recently posted…Five Favorites: Pregnancy-related and RandomMy Profile

  4. I just love how her story is about how courageous she was in her honesty. Our culture and society basically want to do anything and everything to crush this honest search in us, but she kept to it no matter what. I think her story is just so inspiring in so many ways. La gush.

    Great review Micaela!
    Christy recently posted…Seven Quick Takes vol. 89My Profile

  5. Wow, what a generous, thoughtful review! THANK YOU!
    Jen @ Conversion Diary recently posted…7 Quick Takes about winners, 100th birthdays, blue-blocking glasses, and my desperate need for Youtube recommendationsMy Profile