- Paperback: 120 pages
- Publisher: Loyola Press (January 27, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0829440569
- ISBN-13: 978-0829440560
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,408,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Catholic by Choice: Why I Embraced the Faith, Joined the Church, and Embarked on the Adventure of a Lifetime Paperback – January 27, 2014
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"Richard Cole’s lovely, honest spiritual memoir was a good read. His unsparing self-awareness strips the sugar-coating from his conversion story and makes it much more than the same-old."
- Margaret Felice
"Catholic by Choice is a quick read, Richard Cole's fine writing style combined with funny anecdotes keeps the pages turning."
- Kathy Schiffer, Seasons of Grace
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He describes his quest for instant wisdom and finds himself longing for a "beautifully worn Bible, one frayed around the edges, the pages slightly gray from thousands of turnings. A Bible that showed deep familiarity with God's truth." With mocking self-awareness, he admits: "I wanted that Bible now."
His story includes numerous people who help him on his journey, including the monks at Corpus Christi Abbey in South Texas (where he goes on a life altering retreat at age 49), his wife Lauren (who was raised Catholic but who no longer attends church), a difficult female boss at the web design start-up where he works, as well as Sister Mary William and several priest-guides.
Cole, a tireless reader about faith, begins to realize that thinking about God may not be sufficient. But the notion of having to move beyond his comfort zone in order to be truly in line with Christ's teachings unsettles him. He writes: "Better to just think about God, a part of me said. Better to just feel something about God than to be with God himself. Better to stay in my study and read. Better to dance by myself."
As Cole learns to use his newfound faith to benefit others' lives (even the life of his difficult boss), his spiritual adventure becomes even more engaging. Even if you are not a Catholic, you will recognize something undeniably human and authentic in this man's quest to be closer to God and more at peace with himself.
I appreciated the author's frank recounting of his internal thoughts and concerns here: we all have to deal with our own fractious, confused egos, and the secular values of money, honor, fame, and Cole reflects a good deal of these things we have to deal with, when considering our unique place in the universe. Adding a tiny bit of dramatic tension here is Cole's relationship with his wife, who slides off into the spaceless void of New Age make-it-up-for-yourself selfism in her spiritual jogs (may God bless her). One is also left wondering about Cole's boss, a hard-driven career monomaniac type (rowed at an Ivy; WASP family worth millions). . . do eventually even these types most committed to the transient daily grind find God? Or are they blinded by the press of it all?
I am at the stage in life where I wish I had the time to write a memoir for my ten grandchildren if for no one else, and I wish it could be as compelling as this book. All the senses of Place are there: Texas, Berkeley, New York, desert, city, house. All the parts of Relation are there: the egotist, the scientist, the drunk, the lover, the husband, the penitent.
Sure, there's a sense of the old egotist here, the pride of having Told All and So Well, Too -- but how else could this have been? Each of us is an unrepeatable soul, and if we told our story with all truth, it would be in the form of confession, as is this story. Part of the humility of telling is accepting that our ego hasn't completely died, but here it is, on the altar, hoping to be burned up. One can hardly be too dramatic about that.