Click here for the series introduction and Part 1: “Finding God in the Blood and Guts of Birth and the Big Bang” by Fred Tribuzzo

Part 2: “A Search For An Authentic Life” by Alec Ott

Part 3: “Life-Changing Literature” by Chris Queen

I can remember an early fascination with faith—I’m Catholic—but it was something I dismissed when I hit my teenage years. I didn’t need it, I thought. Plus, why would God care about me, an awkward kid who wanted to do nothing but fit in? Things changed, though, and for the better. I eventually zigzagged my way back to faith and have been a committed, practicing Catholic since about 2012.

Spiritual wandering makes sense to me, and that’s why I’m often drawn to such narratives. They mirror my own life. Unsurprisingly, Augustine is one of my favorite saints, and Thomas Merton, the monk-poet, is one of my favorite spiritual writers. Augustine’s Confessions and Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain remain some of my most treasured theological guides.

But I’m now going to add Andrew Klavan’s The Great Good Thing to this list.

I connected with him. I certainly wasn’t a brawler like he was—to this day, I’ve never been in a fistfight—but I was an imaginative kid. I’d constantly project myself 500 years into the future; I’d invent things; I’d write storybooks. This isn’t unique, obviously. A kid without an imagination is, for the most part, an oddity.

Andrew Klavan had me right from the beginning. I laughed when, in his introduction, he noticed his faith beginning to germinate and thought: Please, please don’t let me become a Christian writer. (The difference between serious faithful art and modern schlocky Christian pop culture is a discussion for another time.)

But I was with him, too, in his discussion of his early atheism—I made it that far for only a day, but when I was in high school, I had trouble believing in a God Who is all-loving, so I called myself a deist—and also with his moving depiction of his struggles with mental illness.

Like Klavan, writing drove my madness. In high school, I started to write seriously, and I’d show my work to my friends, only to have them laugh at me and mock me behind my back. This, among other things, led me to frequently go to bed at night in incredible mental anguish. I’d always ask myself:  what’s the point?

But there was a point. As Klavan says, “You cannot know the truth about the world until you know God loves you, because that is the truth about the world.”

Once I realized that, I never looked back—and I know Klavan didn’t, either.

I recognize this doesn’t do The Great Good Thing justice. So I’ll just say this:  it’s a beautiful memoir of an imaginative life, one that fell into the darkness and later found faith. And I’m thankful for it.

The End

Part 5, the conclusion of section I, coming next Thurday…

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