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From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart: Rekindling My Love for Catholicism Paperback – October 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Sometimes you hear someone share their story and you get the sense that they are pioneers, scouts, groundbreakers...blazing a trail that a lot of people will hike on after they are long gone. Chris Haw is one of those trailblazers."--Shane Claiborne, Author of The Irresistible Revolution

"Because of Chris Haw's beautiful prose, From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart reminded me of Thomas Howard's Christ the Tiger. Because of Haw's lucid line of thought, it reminded me of G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. But the book offers today's readers unique gifts as well, because Chris feels the peculiar challenges of the present moment. He proclaims a catholic faith (big or small "C") that is simultaneously rooted in history and engaged with our gritty, conflicted, often superficial, and yet profoundly questioning world."--Brian McLaren, Author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?

"This book is really excellent, and reveals the maturity that seems to be showing itself in so many of our churches today. It is an ideal example of "non-dual thinking", the contemplative mind that can see 'beyond the shadow and the disguise' of things. Before returning to the Catholic Church, Chris Haw did courageously from the outside what so many of us cradle Catholics seldom do--but need to do--from the inside."--Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"With an appealing candor and a storyteller's skill, Haw explores here a principal question of contemporary western Christianity: What is the role and proper place of the praxis, traditions, and theology of Inherited Church in shaping the religion of today's Christians? I must add as well that only rarely, if ever, have I seen a more persuasive or compelling apologia than the one he makes."--Phyllis Tickle, Author of The Great Emergence

"Chris Haw's journey from Willow Creek to Sacred Heart (and the Roman Catholic tradition) is an important addendum to the story of 21st century American Christianity--not only because Haw's journey is representative, but because he has engaged the questions that come up along the way so well. You don't need to believe that all roads lead to Rome to see that we can all learn something from a faithful pilgrimage in that direction."--Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Author of The Wisdom of Stability

"Much more than an already fascinating Chestertonian re-discovery of the Catholic Faith, Chris Haws bears witness to the slow, patient, ideology-busting determination of God. This has brought him, via the dying reefs of Belize and the apocalyptic landscape of Camden, New Jersey into one of our faith's best-kept secrets: a deep, delighting love for our material, corporal, human life--in all its vulnerability."--James Alison, Author of Broken Hearts and New Creations

"This book is in part about why the Catholic communion is good, but it is not about why the Protestant communions are bad. It is blissfully free from polemics, which we don't need. Haw's book is a gift to a Church too often divided by 'conservatives' who demand submission and 'liberals' who demand freedom. Chris Haw has, through his witness and his words, opened up a broader vision of a truly Catholic life beautifully lived." --William Cavanaugh, Ph.D. , Professor of Catholic Studies and Senior Research Fellow, DePaul University

About the Author

Chris Haw is a husband, father, carpenter, potter, adjunct professor at Cabrini College, and founder of Camden Houses, an intentional community. Raised in Chicago's northern suburbs, Haw was baptized Catholic but joined Willow Creek Community Church as a teenager. Here he met and became friends with Shane Claiborne; the two would later become leaders in the New Monasticism movement along with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

He earned his double bachelor's degree in theology and sociology from Eastern University and his master's degree in theology and religious studies from Villanova. Upon returning from studies in Belize, Haw started an intentional community in an economically devastated section of Camden, New Jersey, which operates in partnership with Sacred Heart Church. This connection fostered Haw's reassessment of his own faith and in 2006 he returned to the Catholic Church. In 2008 he cowrote Jesus for President with Shane Claiborne. He has been interviewed by Christianity Today, Sojourners, CNN, and Al-Jazeera. Visit Haw online at chris-haw.com.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594712921
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594712920
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Haw is the co-author of the best-selling book Jesus for President with Shane Claiborne. He recently finished his book about his joining the Catholic Church, From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart, due October 8th, 2012. He has been interviewed in America Magazine, Christianity Today, National Catholic Reporter, Sojourners, CNN, Catholic TV, Al-Jazeera and was featured in the DVD series "Another World Is Possible" and the documentary The Ordinary Radicals.

Haw is a carpenter, painter, theologian, and potter. He and his family are members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Camden Houses, a small Christian community in Camden, New Jersey. He grew up Catholic, spent many years growing and serving at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, and a few months studying ecology and theology while living in the rainforest of Belize.

Besides being a mostly full time carpenter, Haw now enjoys periodically teaching at various churches, conferences, and classes, as well as hosting with his community small conferences on "the new monasticism." He loves to talk about the challenges of theology, ecclesiology, Catholicism, Girardian thought, and community--especially from his perspective in Camden. A graduate of Eastern University with degrees in Sociology and Theology, Haw did his graduate work in Theology at Villanova University and now occasionally teaches Religious Studies at Cabrini College.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
G.K. Chesterton once said that the Church is a house with a hundred gates, and no two men enter at exactly the same angle.

Every conversion story is unique, yet few are similar to Chris Haw's. In his new memoir, From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart: Rekindling My Love for Catholicism (Ave Maria Press, paperback, 256 pages), Chris recounts how he went from leading worship at one of the largest megachurches in the country, to protesting on behalf of the homeless and hungry, and finally to a crumbling, urban parish in one of America's darkest cities.

Chris began as a Catholic--born, baptized, and raised. In his teen years, his mother brought him to Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, an evangelical community with over 25,000 members. She enrolled Chris in the youth group there and he was inspired by young Christians who were vibrant and excited about their faith. Soon, he was active in their music ministry, helping to lead worship services and small groups.

Through Willow Creek, Chris also met fellow radical Shane Claiborne. Together, the two young friends wrestled with Jesus' commands to truly know and love the poor. Like St. Francis and Dorothy Day before them, they took Jesus' words literally and sought a life of simplicity, compassion, and solidarity. They began meeting regularly with homeless friends on the street. They protested against injustice even unto jail. And they searched for true community amidst the backdrop of 21st-century suburban Christianity.

That search eventually drove Chris to Camden, NJ, a city plagued with drugs and crime. He moved in not aiming to "fix" any of the myriad problems, but to live alongside the marginalized.
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Format: Paperback
We have recently seen a number of people go from Protestantism to the Catholic Church. I have wanted to understand this change so took the opportunity to read this book.
Chris was baptized into the Catholic Church as an infant, raised by a Catholic mother and Protestant father. Just before his confirmation at age 14, he heard of the Willow Creek youth program and started attending there.
This experience altered his life trajectory, he writes. He wanted to understand the world and the Gospel and how they related to each other. He pursued sociology and Christian theology at Eastern. He went on a study program to Belize and that experience convinced him he needed to face the destructive elements and economy of the U.S. During the Iraq war he joined the peace movement of the Quakers.
During his senior year at Eastern he heard a Catholic priest from Camden and Chris was inspired to move there. He and his wife moved into an area that looked like a war zone and formed an intentional Christian community. He began to attend the local Catholic church.

That was the first part of the book, the action. He writes about his thoughts in the second part of the book, contemplation.

He struggled with the ideas of being nondenominational, tradition, and ritual. This section helped me understand how he made the transition from Protestant thinking to Catholic.

Here is one example of his thinking process in giving up sola scriptura:
He shares how he came to believe that the Bible is a Church product, "or more particularly, the product of certain churches." (148) "The Jesus handed down to us is an interpreted Jesus. ...
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I just finished From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart this morning and I loved every minute I was reading it. This is an incredibly refreshing book for anyone who has even a passing relationship with Christianity- Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Anabaptist.

For those who have found this book via The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical or Jesus for President be ready for a book in the same vein but with more contemplation, reflection, and a stronger dose of how Chris' experiences and the traditions about which he writes can form your own spirituality. If Jesus for President is a book of action this is the corollary contemplation.

Additionally, Chris' desire to be sympathetic to each topic he approaches gives this book an incredibly well-rounded feel. For those looking for an UNapologetic book of Catholic Apologetics look elsewhere. Hewing closely to Chesterton's "democracy of the dead", Chris gives T/tradition a sound contextualizing while being open about the tensions he still experience with both the Catholic and Protestant traditions as well as their current forms.

The combination of Chris' authentic reflection on his own lived experience along with the diversity of minds from Rene Girard to Chesterton make this book truly artful and convincing without being either arrogant or coy. While I would definitely call this book theological in deference to its sources and thought it also has much to offer in the way of concrete spiritual practice that readers can easily attempt to access for themselves.
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