Literary Works and Christian Witness Illuminate Atheist’s Heart with God’s Grace10.11.17
Dr. Holly Ordway recounted her magnificent journey from Atheism to Christianity to Catholicism before a crowd of 200 people at the Athenaeum’s LeBlond lecture on October 4. Dr. Ordway is an author and a professor of English at Houston Baptist University (HBU). In addition to her English degrees, she has a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, and she teaches this subject at HBU.
Raised in a non-religious family who never went to church nor talked about God, the young Holly Ordway drew the logical conclusion that God did not exist. Unbeknownst to her however, God’s grace was slowly working in her through the writings of authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gerard Hopkins and C.S. Elliot. Their Christian faith, evident in their works, piqued her interest in exploring faith as a young adult.
Dr. Ordway had a persistent longing for meaning, beauty and connection and nothing seemed to satisfy those desires. She began asking faith questions of her fencing coach and his wife, who as “serious Christians”, displayed qualities that were very different and attractive to Dr. Ordway. This was followed by months of intensive research and finally, her baptism in the Episcopal Church at the age of 31.
Although Dr. Ordway describes her conversion from Atheism to Christianity as similar to St. Paul, “an intense, disconcerting and terrifying turnaround,” she says her conversion to Catholicism was more like St. Peter, steady discipleship with slow movement toward Rome. Despite being drawn to the coherence and beauty of Catholicism, she was still resisting Jesus. She finally “laid down her arms” and came home to the Catholic Church.
“I think it’s good for Catholics to learn how other people come to the Church, remarked Mary McGirr. Members of Incarnation parish in Dayton, she and her husband, Page, belong to the St. Leonard Faith Community book club. The club members read Dr. Ordway’s book: Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms. “The book was excellent; she has a very compelling story,” said Mary.
Jim Smith said Dr. Ordway’s talk was fantastic. “It gave me a greater appreciation of my faith because of all the supporting information she presented regarding our beliefs.”
Seminarian Brother Justin Pybus, C.P.M. said, “This was an amazing lecture. One of the best we’ve had.” As someone who appreciates classical literature, Br. Justin could relate to Dr. Ordway’s talk. “She gave me some insights that will help me in teaching classes or in giving homilies as a priest,” he said.
Dr. Ordway believes that imagination is really essential for helping people come to the faith. Equally important is the personal witness that was so instrumental for her conversion. She shared with the group, “The most important thing we can do to draw others to the faith is to seek personal holiness.”
Click the following link to see a photo gallery of Dr. Ordway’s lecture http://www.mtsm.org/PhotoGalleries/PhotoGallery66.aspx
Text Credit: Colleen Kammer
Photo Credit: E.L. Hubbard Photography