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Spiritual memoir traces academic's path from atheist to Catholic


This is the cover of the book "Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms" by Holly Ordway. It is reviewed by Nancy L. Roberts. (CNS photo courtesy Carmel Communications)

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"Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms" by Holly Ordway. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2014). 186 pp., hardcover, $19.95.

Holly Ordway, author of "Not God's Type," was a well-educated English professor who dismissed belief in God as so much superstition. While her family was not hostile toward religion and even adopted some cultural Christian practices such as playing Christmas carols, as a child she neither opened the Bible nor attended church.

She remembers reading C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," both of which made a deep impression on her. But she "completely missed" the novels' Christian themes.

By early adulthood, she was comfortably ensconced in what she describes as a "fortress of atheism." She writes, "I held that I was the product of blind chance working over millions of years, a member of a species that happened to be more intelligent than other mammals but was not unique."

Nor did she believe that human beings have souls. "I thought that when I died, my consciousness would simply switch off, and that the only mortality in store for me was that of my body decaying and returning its constituent atoms for other living beings to use; sometimes I even thought that was a beautiful and consoling prospect."

Still, her recounting of her earlier years as an atheist underscores the inherent darkness of this perspective.

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