Friday, October 05, 2012

Review: From Willow Creek To Sacred Heart

About the Book:
The bestselling coauthor of Jesus for President chronicles his spiritual journey through evangelical Christianity and his return to Catholicism. A respectful and engaging look at the megachurch movement and a heartfelt expression of love for the Catholic Church's liturgy and its commitment to the poor.

In the spirit of Merton's Seven Storey Mountain and Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness, Chris Haw's From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart recounts the journey of a young Christian seeking a personal relationship with Christ within the context of a faith community committed to love, justice, and solidarity with the poor. Haw's journey spans contemporary American Christianity--from a nominal Catholic background to megachurch Evangelicalism, to a new monastic community, and then back to Catholicism after an intense spiritual experience on Good Friday. Haw's story and style will appeal to Catholics who champion the Church's social teachings, those drawn to monastic practices and living in intentional community, and those seeking solidarity with the poor and marginalized.

My Comments:
I've read a lot of conversion stories written by those who were devoted Evangelicals.  It seems the usual story is that the person starts reading Church history and develops first a respect for the Church Fathers (who s/he previously did not know existed) and later a conviction that the teachings of the Catholic church are true.  At that point they become by-the-book conservative Catholics who eschew birth control and love Latin. Politics and religion intersect for these people in Republican party and in the fight against abortion.   Chris Haw is not one of these people.

Chris Haw's issue is social justice, and he has made a decision to live among the poor in Camden New Jersey.  He is a pacifist and spends pages writing against the current war in the Middle East.  He talks about environmental racism--the practice of locating polluting and otherwise undesirable industries in areas populated by those who do not have the political power to keep them out--the poor and minorities.  

While he had been baptized Catholic, he never really practiced the faith, and cut his spiritual teeth at Willow Creek, an evangelical mega-church.  Following college he and some friends moved to Camden and got jobs in an inner-city  Catholic school and parish.  Eventually he converts to Catholicism, but he admits he still has questions; in particular about the inability of the Church to ordain women.  Haw loves the beauty of the art and architecture of the Church, but he does not sound like a liturgical purist.  

I enjoyed reading Chris Haw's story of how he came to the Church, as well as his respectful description of his views on social issues, views that make me a little uncomfortable.  Grade:  B+.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  You can read about Haw and his other books at his website.  


  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds good! Great review!

  3. Thanks for this excellent and pithy review.


View My Stats