Friday, September 2, 2016

Everything had changed

I enjoy Andrew Klavan's books, both the hard-boiled adult thrillers, and especially his young-adult fiction. Now he has written a non-fiction book that I anticipate liking even more and for better reason: The Great Good Thing.  From Amazon's description:
No one was more surprised than Andrew Klavan when, at the age of fifty, he found himself about to be baptized. Best known for his hard-boiled, white-knuckle thrillers and for the movies made from them—among them True Crime (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Don’t Say a Word (starring Michael Douglas)—Klavan was born in a suburban Jewish enclave outside New York City. He left the faith of his childhood behind to live most of his life as an agnostic in the secular, sophisticated atmosphere of New York, London, and Los Angeles. But his lifelong quest for truth—in his life and in his work—was leading him to a place he never expected. ....

The Great Good Thing is the dramatic, soul-searching story of a man born into an age of disbelief who had to abandon everything he thought he knew in order to find his way to the truth.
Klavan wrote "How a Man of the Coasts and Cities Found Christ" for Christianity Today:
.... For most of the next 35 years, I remained a philosophical agnostic and a practical atheist. No shock of revelation changed me either. I never saw a flash of light like Paul on the road to Damascus. I never heard a voice telling me to “take up and read” like Augustine under the fig tree. Jesus never appeared to me while I lay drunk in the gutter.

And yet, looking back on my life, I see that Christ was beckoning to me at every turn. When I was a child, he was there in the kindness of a Christian babysitter and the magic of a Christmas Eve spent at her house. When I was a troubled young man contemplating suicide, he was in the voice of a Christian baseball player who gave a radio interview that inspired me to go on. And always, he was in the day-to-day miracle of my marriage, a lifelong romance that taught me the reality of love and slowly led me to contemplate the greater love that was its source and inspiration.

But perhaps most important for a novelist who insisted that ideas should make sense, Christ came to me in stories. Slowly, I came to understand that his life, words, sacrifice, and resurrection formed the hidden logic behind every novel, movie, or play that touched my deepest mind.

I was reading a story when that logic finally kicked in. I was in my 40s, lying in bed with one of Patrick O’Brian’s great seafaring adventure novels. One of the characters, whom I admired, said a prayer before going to sleep, and I thought to myself, Well, if he can pray, so can I. I laid the book aside and whispered a three-word prayer in gratitude for the contentment I’d found, and for the work and people I loved: “Thank you, God.”

It was a small and even prideful prayer: a self-impressed intellectual’s hesitant experiment with faith. God’s response was an act of extravagant grace.

I woke the next morning and everything had changed. There was a sudden clarity and brightness to familiar faces and objects; they were alive with meaning and with my own delight in them. I called this experience “the joy of my joy,” and it came to me again whenever I prayed. Naturally I began to pray every day. And over time, this joy of my joy became a constant companion: a steady sense of vitality and beauty that endured even in periods of sorrow and pain. ....