Posted by: gmscan | May 24, 2010

How I came to Christ, Part Two

As I said previously, I was not actively searching for God or any kind of spiritual awakening. I set out to entertain myself by catching up on many of the books I missed in school.

Professionally I have always had to read a lot — mostly research papers and policy books – and write a lot — especially analyses of research, op-eds, testimony, and speeches. Evenings I would turn to fiction to clear out the brain. I’ve read most of what Stephen King wrote, and Scott Turow, John Grisham, David Baldacci and others. In the past I’ve gone on mystery jags (Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler) and science fiction (Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury) and social commentary (Doris Lessing,  Franz Kafka, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Wolf.) More recently I’ve become a fan of Vince Flynn and Dean Koontz and have read all the Harry Potter books, in part to be in better touch with my grandson.

—-

I really enjoyed Harry Potter. They were great escapist fantasies. When I finished them I was looking around for something similar and came across C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I didn’t know much about Lewis. I had seen Shadow Lands and read A Grief Observed when a close friend died. I had never read The Witch, the Lion, and the Wardrobe when I was a kid. My family tilted more towards The Wind in the Willows at that age.

I had no idea that Lewis was one of the most prominent Christian thinkers of the Twentieth Century, so it came as a surprise to me that the Narnia stories were such compelling metaphors for the Christian belief. Especially striking was the last book, The Last Battle, which is a direct description of the Second Coming and the End of Times.

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Next I picked up Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s so Great About Christianity? Not all of my leisure reading has been fiction. I often dip into books on politics and economic such as Tipping Point, Freakonomics, The World is Flat, and books by contemporary political thinkers like Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham. One of these was D’Souza’s What’s so Great About America? which I thought was a wonderful affirmation of American ideals and principles.  I figured What’s so Great About Christianity? would be a similar defense of the founding ideas of Western Civilization.

It was that and a whole lot more. It is not primarily a political book but a bold defense of Christianity and rebuttal of atheism – on their own terms.  D’Souza did not shy away from spiritualism in this book, but he also points out that by Darwin’s own standard – survival of the fittest – Christians are more likely to survive than atheists are.

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The next book I read was one that has been sitting on my shelf for decades and I had never gotten around to reading – Boswell’s Life of Johnson. This is an intensely personal biography of Samuel Johnson, one of the preeminent English intellectuals of the Eighteenth Century, written by James Boswell who was a good friend and acolyte of Johnson’s. Among other things, Johnson single handedly wrote the definitive dictionary of the English language, one that remained in use for perhaps a century or so. I was eager to read it for the descriptions of London when it was rapidly becoming the commercial and intellectual capitol of the world. What surprised me was, again, its devotion to Christianity. It turns out that both Johnson and Boswell were devout Christians. The book includes a large number of prayers Johnson composed, and many of the other intellectuals Johnson interacted with were men of the cloth. In fact, outside of government it was the clergy that were the scholars and teachers of the era.

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After that it was time for something lighter, so I turned to Dean Koontz. Koontz has always written about the struggle between good and evil, but I was surprised that he is becoming more explicitly Christian, especially with his Odd Thomas series, which includes a great deal of what can only be described as divine intervention in human affairs. In one of the series, Brother Odd, the protagonist joins a monastery as a lay brother.

Next week, the education of Greg continues with Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People, The Shack, Girls Like Us, Left Behind, and Dinesh’s D’Souza’s Life After Death.

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Responses

  1. I can relate – my own journey was similar, but I came from a fairly militant atheism to faith in Christ.

    Have you read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity?

    Rodney Stark is an interesting author; his books, The Rise of Christianity and The Victory of Reason would interest you, I’m sure.

    I think a lot of very good thinkers discover that the gospel makes a lot of sense when they get around to considering it. So many people just don’t get around to it.

    I’ll be interested in reading the rest of the story. God bless.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always appreciated your fervor for rational health policy, and I share your vison that America does need a spiritual awakening.

  3. Hallelujah! What a great story. Somehow I had missed Part I.

    Our journey with God came at an earlier age and we have enjoyed His presence throughout our schooling and careers. Our passion for health care reform is rooted in our interest in seeing God glorified. Rather than be involved in Medicaid, we chose to start the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic where the poor could get care and God get the credit.

    Then we launched the Acts 4 Project where people could help others directly, instead of buying overpriced NJ health insurance.

    Greg, it is so clear to us that the key to health care reform is true charity that can only come through Biblical principles. The government cannot do health care, as has been made quite evident when we study what has been done in other countries.

    I just read Marvin Olasky’s little autobiography where he chronicles his journey from Yale darling Jewish atheist Communist to Yale spurned Christian. He is now the editor of WORLD Magazine.

    C.S.Lewis is an amazing author– another atheist turned Christian and inspiring thinker. “Mere Christianity” helped seal my faith in college.

    How great to have this blog. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

  4. What a delight to share in your journey. I also am a passionate follower of Jesus and a reluctant Christian (“reluctant” because the term ‘christian’ carries so much baggage that I don’t relate to.) Passion for Christ began in my medical school days at Barts Hospital in London. Now, through business and through writing, my wife and I seek to follow the Galilean and live as He would have us live. Her latest book, “An Army Of Ordinary People,” may interest you. Prior to that we have chronicles some of our own journey in “The Rabbit and The Elephant.”

  5. Greg,
    For your clear passion and gift of reading, and for seeking the truth, it is fitting that you have encountered the “Living Word.” It is now certain that we shall meet again.

  6. Thank you all for your good wishes and your suggestions on additional reading to fill out my understanding. Yes, I have read Mere Christianity and am working on some other Lewis work. He is a marvel.

    But, more importantly, I am reading the Bible for the first time in my life. I will be posting some thoughts on it soon and will be very interested in getting feedback.

    What a fantastic journey!

    Greg

    • Greg,

      How fantastic that you are reading the Bible. The ultimate book. This will open your eyes and bring great questions to mind. If you’re like me, you’ll read the Bible from now to eternity and see something new each time you read the same section. Something that you needed to know. For instance, I just read about the Apostle Paul having the “brand-marks of Jesus.” Can’t tell you how often I’ve read Galatians and never saw that! You might want to look at a few of Pastor John Piper’s incredible books at Desiring God Ministries. His main emphasis is the Bible and what it says…in all its complexities. I love the one that talks about how He uses sin for His own purposes (“You meant it for evil. God meant it for good”). Best wishes on your journey to better knowing the One who is The Way, The Truth and The Life!


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