The publication of Aid to Bible Understanding, a Bible dictionary, in 1971, initiated major organizational changes for the Watchtower Society. For many, including me, this opened the door to a reexamination of other teachings. I wondered, “If we have been wrong in our understanding of arrangements we formerly thought to be solidly based on Scripture, why couldn’t we be wrong about doctrines, too?”
I am about to turn 40 years old. The older I get, the less inclined I am to speak about myself. I’d rather talk about Augustine, Aquinas, or someone else that time has vindicated their right to be heard. On the other hand, telling my story reveals to those who listen that the things I speak about are things that have guided the course of my life and truly reflect what is most meaningful to me. There is an enduring value, I think, to listening to the life-story of another. The more durable, coherent and compelling the discoveries of another turn out to be, the more meaningful and transforming they may turn out to be for another. Since my life has several significant “twists” and “turns,” some find it at least curious that I have settled in the Roman Catholic Church. My arrival in the Catholic Church was neither quick nor easy. This arrival was not in the recent past. My initial choice to be Catholic and the present are separated by more than ten years. I think time has shown that my choice to be Catholic was neither hasty nor shallow. I hope you will find the following brief account helpful in your own journey.
I was born into a loving, believing community, a Protestant “mother church” (the Reformed Church) which, though it had not for me the fullness of the faith, had strong and genuine piety. I believed, mainly because of the good example of my parents and my church. The faith of my parents, Sunday School teachers, ministers, and relatives made a real difference to their lives, a difference big enough to compensate for many shortcomings. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
I needed to know how it was that Marcus Grodi and his guests, such as the Jewish convert Rosalind Moss and some former Pentecostals, had a personal relationship with Christ. How could this be if they were Catholic? One Tuesday, when the Pentecostals were testifying, I beckoned to my husband.
The day President John F. Kennedy was shot is one of my most vivid childhood memories. I was in sixth grade playing on the playground when the rumors started. Just before the dismissal bell at the end of the day, the principal made the announcement over the PA system: JFK had been assassinated.
School was dismissed in eerie silence. Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked the half mile home that afternoon. My sorrow was almost overwhelming for a sixth-grader, not only because our President was dead, but primarily because in my heart of hearts I believed that he was in hell.
I found other aspects of Catholic life attractive as well. For example, while a senior in high school, the reading of Richard Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism began a lifelong passion for the social teaching of the Catholic Church. All these things were attracting me to Rome during my years as an Anglican, although I tried to keep the emotional pull of Rome separate from my intellectual considerations about conversion.
The Christian tradition that emerged from John Wesley’s eighteenth-century Methodist movement has developed several branches. One of them is called the Wesleyan Church, and I was born into a family in that denomination. My parents met at a Bible college in Oskaloosa, Iowa. My father was studying to be a minister, and my mother was there to pick a husband out of the pool of future preachers.