Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler (Ignatius, 2014)
I've been a fan of Jennifer Fulwiler's Conversion Diary blog since it was called Et tu?, which takes me back at least as far as 2008. Granted, like Free-Range Kids and the Front Porch Republic, it has gotten short shrift in the last year or so simply because I like it so much: not only was I spending a lot of time reading (which I could have managed) but it too often inspired me to spend much more time writing (which I couldn't). I long to get back to these excellent blogs again, but only after I've acquired more control over responsibilities closer to home.
Be that as it may, when I discovered that our library now has copies of Something Other Than God, I grabbed it, all other responsibilities notwithstanding. Having followed the conception, gestation, long-and-agonizing labor, and finally birth of this book, how could I not? Okay, a real fan would have bought a copy, rather than waiting for the library, but if possible I like to know what I think of a book before I spend money on it.
This one is well worth spending money on, if you can't borrow a copy. (Heather, the Concord library has it.) Jen writes really well, even without an editor, and if I can perhaps detect a little heavy-handedness on the part of that editor ("you need more adjectives"), I can still say with assurance that the agonizing re-re-re-writing process resulted in a well-told, powerful, and entertaining story. My current Kindle-read was set aside once I opened the book, and I finished it two days later—it would have been sooner had I not had some discipline to avoid seriously compromising my other responsibilities. It's a compelling story, serious and funny, and seriously fun to read.
Something Other Than God takes its title from C.S. Lewis, who wrote: All that we call human history ... [is] the long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. Jen's journey from fire-breathing atheist to devout Catholic is not only for people who appreciate conversion stories; even those who are certain the pilgrimage took her and her husband in the wrong direction can appreciate the humor and the sheer humanness of the story.
The back-cover endorsement written by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) says it well: Thought-provoking, honest, and often hilarious. It will strike a chord with anyone who ever posed—or tried unsuccessfully to avoid—the big questions of life.
But those who are familiar with Jen's blog will be disappointed to learn that there is no scorpion story. Not one.