I couldn’t resist sharing part of an email I received last week, but only caught up enough with my email to read it today. It brought many a smile to my heart for lots of reasons. I love how broadly this book resonates with people and how this family travels:
Our family was making a relatively short trip (5.5 hours driving) to visit my parents during spring break and we have come to enjoy listening to books and radio plays during the drive. For this visit my wife and I decide that we would look for a suitable Christian book to listen to, something the whole family would enjoy. I should state that we are a family of faith, with some of us being more “religious” than others, so purchasing a Christian book was not a method to investigate Christianity, but way to deepen our faith, and broaden our minds.
As we spent a couple of hours doing one of my and my boys favorite things, perusing the bookstore, we looked at numerous audio books to purchase. All of which said “buy me, buy me”. We had settled on a book to purchase, “The Ragamuffin Gospels”, or at least thought we had, when a book apparently jumped off the shelves and right into our hands. You guessed it, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. It screamed, buy me My wife, Rose, and I have long believed and taught our two boys that Jesus and the Father guide our lives, and this was one more example of it for us. We knew this was the book and we immediately put it into our purchase this pile. Little did we know how much our minds would be broadened.
We passed the time during the trip by being captivated by Jake’s journey with John. We would turn the CD player off between chapters to discuss what each of us had learned and discuss the different ways each of us approached what we had heard. It was one of the best drives to my parents house that we have ever had as a family. The insights into our lives revealed to us on that Tuesday morning and afternoon were simply incredible.
I said earlier that some of us are “more religious” than others in our family, let me explain. We are a Catholic lay-family. We have been married for 20 years this August and we, like any married couple, have had our share of ups and downs. The two things that have remained constant throughout our marriage have been our love and faith in Jesus and each other. My wife is a “cradle-Catholic”, as are my two boys, while I came to the Catholic faith about 12 years ago. There was never any pressure from my wife for me to become a Catholic, let alone go to church.
That is how my search for religion started (little did I know then that what I was really searching for was relationship, not religion). We visited numerous churches, went to numerous masses, services, worship and fellowship meetings before I decide to be baptized in the Catholic faith. Since that time I have been active, active, active in the church. I have been on parish councils, president and vice-president of parish councils, on finance committees, various planning committees, taught Sunday school (or religious formation as we refer to it), been part of the planning and execution of vacation bible schools, and a lector and Eucharistic minister during Mass. I enjoyed it all immensely (probably for the wrong reasons). I learned a lot about myself, other people, the church; but never about what it means to live in Jesus’ love. Despite the joy, I always new there was something missing, something that didn’t set right with me.
During my conversations with my wife after church on Sundays I would inevitably say something along the lines of, “There has to be more. What I see is the priest and the church espousing is a list of man-made rules and regulations. I hear The Church wants you do x,y, and z. I never hear about what God and Jesus wants.” After listening to this week in and week out for a number of years I became disillusioned with “The Church”. But I kept quiet (publicly, amongst other Catholics, never expressing my doubts). I did my duties as a good Catholic and Christian.
After all I was alone, or nearly alone, in my way of thinking. Then along came Tuesday, March 17, 2009. I slid the first CD of “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” into the CD player in our vehicle and things began to change. Your words in this book echo what I have been saying for years. At one point, during one of John’s conversations with Jake, Rose and I broke out laughing. The words John chose were exactly the words I had used just the Sunday before to express my believe in why God sent Jesus to us. I could have written that passage and not had a single word different from yours, and I said as much. Then my 11 year-old, Nicolas, pipes up from the back seat, “Alert the Media, Dad is the Apostle John.” It was one of those family moments you had to be there for.
But that does not tell the whole tale of how engrossed the family became in this book. We finished listening on the way home a couple of days later. The boys fell asleep before we put the last disk in, but Rose and I decided to listen to it anyway. As we neared home, about an hour out, the boys woke up and the first thing they asked for was to listen to the last disk because they had missed it. That is impressive when you capture the hearts and imagination of two little boys and their parents with the same story.
All of this above Wayne, is a long winded way of saying thank you to you and to Dave for writing this book. I know the true thanks goes to Jesus and Father for putting the book in our hands and CD player. However, I firmly believe that had Father not wanted me to come into contact with you, he would not have guided you to write this book, or me to purchase it. I am listening to it again for the second time in a week and I am enjoying it as much this time as I did the first time. I know I have to listen to it many more times to glean the nuggets of truth and information out of it.
Like Jake in the book, I have million questions to ask running around in my mind. I just wish that I had the time to ask you. I hope at sometime in our futures that Father sees fit that we meet one and another. Thank you again for this book. I look forward to reading more of your work.