I heard someone use the word "blogosphere" the other day, and it sounded a little quaint. It's been some time now since blogs were the happening thing on the internet. Back when they were, roughly fifteen years ago, Dawn Eden's blog, The Dawn Patrol, was a popular one for a certain sort of Catholic, a sort which included me. Besides the fact that it was a lively and interesting blog, we (I think I can say "we") found her an intriguing person: Jewish by birth, bohemian pop-music fan/expert by interest, and Christian by conviction and baptism. (She has since begun using her full name.)
At the time I first started reading the blog, she was more or less an evangelical Christian, and as I recall not much inclined toward Catholicism. So her readers were able to watch in, so to speak, real time, the change in her views that resulted in her being received into the Catholic Church. That, and any number of other events, such as the time she got fired from her job editing copy and writing headlines for the New York Post because she made a change, truthful but illicit in her position, in an article about in-vitro fertilization.
By 2008 she had begun studying theology. Having finished a Master's degree, she continued, at the urging of Fr. Francis Canavan, S.J., to a doctorate and is now a theology professor--well, until yesterday. The seminary which employed her has just laid her off ("budget cuts"). But I have great hopes that she will soon land somewhere else.
The book is fascinating. I did, as I say, know the basic story, but the book fills in a great many details, many of which were surprising to me. Chief among the surprises, I think, is the fact that prayer had been a part of Dawn's life from childhood. Somehow I had always assumed that at least by the time she was in her teens she was a typically a-religious late 20th-century young person, and that she had to become pretty desperate before she could consider the possibility that God is real. Well, that's partly true, I think, at least in the intellectual sense. But even in her disbelief she maintained a regular habit of praying before she went to sleep. This is important. I don't think you could find a clearer instance of the truth and efficacy of the Lord's admonition: "Seek and you shall find."
The story opens with a moving vignette of five-year-old Dawn standing outside her house in Galveston, brooding about her parents' impending divorce and pondering the nature of God:
God is real. The world I experience is real. But God was before everything else.... So God must somehow be more real than everything else.
Pretty good philosophical realism for a five-year-old. Or for that matter a sixty-five-year-old. This does however touch on a minor reservation about the book: every incident has a precise date and time stamp, and I wonder how an adult can place such a moment at precisely the afternoon of March 9, 1974. It doesn't really matter, and perhaps some of the later episodes can be dated that way from a journal kept at the time. But I did wonder.
Because I'm lazy, and because I see no sense in repeating what others have said (and because I'm a little pressed for time), I'm not going to write a full-fledged review, but instead give you some links that will cover the facts, and most of what I would have said:
Of the reviews I've read, I think this one by a nun (at a blog called...NunBlog) is my favorite, even though she does not get the music stuff at all:
And maybe most useful, an excerpt at New Advent
The one significant thing that I felt was missing was a sense of just how the music which was so important to her made her feel, and of why it had that effect. It seemed to me that the book spent more time discussing the artists than the music itself. This is of special interest to me because I also have been greatly influenced by popular music (using the term very broadly). She does discuss this, of course (and see the not-random 45--surely a rarity--on the cover), but I'd like to have heard more. That's a fairly small reservation, though, about a fascinating and moving story.