I’m really getting into “Towards a Grammar of Ascent”. (by Cardinal Newman) Breathtaking. It’s like Aquinas only applied to the level of philosophy which has, in the modern era, gone completely off the rails. First he starts with what is obvious. Then it involves logically to places so beautiful, surprising, yet shouldn’t *be* surprising that it’s hard to finally figure out just why it was, what it was, that you used to believe. It is a life-changing sort of book. It’s nice when something can change you in an affirmative way, rather than the breaking down of the nihilists.
I am a fan of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Dunno why, but the Brothers never appealed to me. Might be different now that I’m Catholic.
Also, The Well and the Shallows— and Magic are my two favorite Chesterton books. (I guess the latter is a book… more like it’s a play in book form, but never mind). Of course there’s always the Sapphire Crucifix (or was it simply the Blue Cross?[Ed: It was just the Blue Cross]) which is everybody’s favorite Chesterton short story. 🙂
Then, the books that converted me, that is “Love and Responsibility” and “Theology of the Body“. The first, is, I am convinced the “on ramp” to the second. I am convinced that PJII’s intersession, plus that from my pious, Catholic childhood piano teacher probably generated “the miracle of the longest day”, where I sat down and read the latter in one sitting (punctuated only by certain bodily needs not including sleep).
I love Taylor Marshall’s work on Paul the Apostle. I now see him in a different light; in times past I found the Last Apostle difficult. Turns out I was inadvertently carrying with me some of my old Calvinistic assumptions through 19 years of Neopaganism meant to dislodge him (that is, Calvin). Ironically, I think I’d have less of an appreciation for Catholicism without the development of a Pagan mindset– I was more of a classical pagan than a true neo-pagan because I never really fully swallowed relativism. I paid it lip-service in so far as it was convenient, but believed too much in the reality of what was in front of my face to be really convinced of it.
The symbol saturated world of a believing pagan feeds nicely into a Catholic worldview, whereas the abstract theological nihilism fails to grasp the connections and richness of Catholic metaphysics. Granted, I invented much of it on my own, so we can’t entirely blame Calvin. However, it is scary how much of his true philosophy I interpolated based on what scraps were dropped from the table on my head.
I still strongly resist the notion that I *had* to become pagan to become Catholic, but… it certainly made it easier.