From Judaism to atheism to Christ

"From Judaism to atheism to Christ" Continued...

Issue: "Tiananmen massacre," June 6, 2009

You were an atheist and still asking questions about meaning? As I would come to the problems of my life, and we all have problems in our life, I would find different methods to solve them—and they all worked. When I had psychological problems I went to a psychiatrist and he cured me. I am the only person I know who was cured by a psychiatrist (Headline: "Psychiatrist Cures Patient"). I took up Zen meditation. It was wonderful. My marriage has been remarkable. My wife and I are very conscious about how blessed we are to have found each other. 

So you weren't broken, desperate. In keeping with the way my life has worked, I was reading a novel by the guy I think is probably the best English novelist in the last part of the 20th century, Patrick O'Brien, who writes sea adventures. I was reading in bed and got to the scene where one of the main characters, Maturin, said a little prayer before going to sleep. That's the one thing I'd never tried. So I said a very brief prayer of thanks and it went off in me like a bomb. There are really no words to describe it. I have always thought it was a tribute to the generosity of God that even such a prideful, arrogant little prayer in some sense would be answered. 

This was seven or eight years ago? Right. During this period I was in a peak in my career. But there did come a trough in my career. I was making a transition and lost my way. 

The transition being a spiritual transition? At some point, I no longer knew what I needed. But I still prayed and my prayers were getting longer and longer. I realized that I had suddenly become the person that I had wanted to be since I was a little kid and had connected with some part of myself that I had not connected with . . . I had accepted Christ. The belief system that I had come to was a Christian belief system. That created massive difficulties for me. My father had once said to me, "If you convert, I will ­disown you." 

You had started learning about Christ when you were young? When I was a teenager I had come to the conclusion that anybody who wanted to be educated had to read Shakespeare and the King James Bible. I set about doing this in my little determined teenage way. One day my father walked into my room without knocking and caught me reading the Gospel according to Luke. He was furious. I was reading it for purely literary reasons. This always makes me crack up when you think about what a boy could be reading. 

And three decades or so later . . . I'm not a young man anymore. I realized I would do whatever I had to do. At that point my father had a brain tumor. It developed into multiple myeloma that just rampaged. He died on Maundy Thursday. I remember that Easter was weirdly real golden light. Not to be corny about it, but it was the experience of both losing and ­gaining a father. When I went back to his memorial I virtually left his memorial service and walked over to be baptized. 

How did this affect your writing? I had wrestled with issues—not wanting to seem that I had turned my back on Jews, or that I had been trying to be accepted by anybody—but the biggest fear I had was that I would lose my sense of reality, that I would start writing books about children who had lost their puppies and Jesus brought them back. I was afraid that I would become moralistic and wouldn't get my characters to say the thing they would naturally say. 

What's happened? The fascinating thing is that it has turned me into a far, far better observer of the human condition. Now that I have gotten rid of the Freudianism I think I understand people, and it shows in my writing. It has been a very positive thing. I don't write explicitly Christian works, but there is now a much more openly Christian element to them. That's part of people's lives. 

You've also become active politically. I'm in this fight that I felt called to when Hollywood started making movies attacking our troops while they were in the field. I have no problem with people being against the Iraq War, but it seemed a large leap from being against the war to "America is an evil country." Not one movie said that we are under attack . . . that freedom is good, Islamic fascism is not such a good idea, guys who fight this dangerous thing are heroes. Not one movie said that. I felt that as long as people were out there getting shot to protect me, I owed it to them.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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