Item description for Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey To Rome by Thomas Howard...
Overview Through his prolific and highly regarded writing, Thomas Howard's name is familiar to Protestants and Catholics alike, but many have never heard the story of his conversion to Catholicism. With grace, charm, and wit, Dr. Howard describes his journey from Evangelicalism to Anglicanism, and finally, to the Church of Rome. In a world saturated with fashionable unbelief, Howard's testimony inspires and informs. Fr. Richard Neuhaus calls it "a marvelously engaging remembrance."
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More About Thomas Howard
Thomas Howard was a Professor of English and Literature for over 30 years. He is the author of numerous popular books including Chance or the Dance, Dove Descending: T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, On Being Catholic, Lead Kindly Light and Evangelical is Not Enough.
Thomas Howard currently resides in Boston, in the state of Massachusetts. Thomas Howard was born in 1934.
Thomas Howard has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey To Rome?
Beautifully written, personal, for some --- convincing Jun 21, 2007
I had read other reviews that praise the prose of Howard. I concur.
I suppose what I liked best about the book was that it was very personal, very heart felt. In a relatively small number of pages, the author takes us with him as he moved from fundamentalism, to Anglicanism, and finally --- the next and final step --- which he believed was the logical one --- Roman Catholicism.
I was raised a Roman Catholic, and was even in a religious order for several years, but I left "The Church," because of problems I had with its teachings.
I read this book to see if it would make me feel as though -- I should return.
It did not. For all of Howard's skill and sincerety --- he seemed to use a lot of mortar to keep the bricks in place.
Great book for Anglicans May 25, 2007
There are many conversion stories that have been put into print, what makes this one different is the eloquence with which the author writes. A former English professor and Fundamentalist turned Anglican turned Catholic, Thomas Howard presents his journey to the Catholic Church using good humor and presenting his tale in such a way that it should not upset the non-Catholic reader. The book is short - I read it in about 1 1/2 hours, and it does not answer any great theological questions that non-Catholics will have, but it is inspirational and well worth the effort.
Yet another 'conversion' book ... and one of the most poetic, witty, and charm-filled Dec 2, 2006
RATING: 4.5 STARS
Thomas Howard's literary roots as professor of English show in this little (105 pages) 'conversion' book. A side-effect of reading from the 'conversion' genre is that my vocabulary has widened. I do not remember the last time I had to use the dictionary so much as I did when reading "Lead, Kindly Light."
Jut like the backcover states, "with grace, charm, and wit" Dr. Howard uses this book (compared to his earlier and better known "Evangelical is not enough :worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament") to tell his life story of his journey from Evangelical to Anglican, and then to Roman-Catholicism. This is also a book of "apologetics without polemics."
Here is a dichotomy of the testimony of Howard's faith and convictions. In "a step toward Rome" the author presents his reasons for converting to Anglicanism (Roman Anglican, or Church of England, in the US present as Episcopal church) and things that formed a bridge towards Rome. These reasons are: 1) the ancient church worship was a "Eucharistic liturgy," 2) church year present ("free churches have no liturgy or church year"), 3) and the sacamentalist aspect of Anglicanism ("the preaching of the Word occurs most characteristically in union with the sacramental Word - the Word made flesh, "made present" - this is what 'anamnesis' the word the Lord used for 'rememberance' means - in the Eucharist").
On this third point he fails to mention the Lutheran Church as also a sacramental church (besides the mentioned Orthodox, Anglican, and Roman-Catholic ones).
"The Church's Roots" is where I connected the most with the author. Here the author is compelled to investigate the history of the early church, especially since every Sunday many Christians pronounce the Nicene Creed and declare the church to be "one holy catholic apostolic" church. In this chapter Howard makes some strong statements. * "'Sola Scriptura' is a notion unimaginable to the ancient Church." * "Early Christians ... fought and thought and worked and wrote, and died, so that 'the faith once delivered to the saints' might indeed be handed on." * "As a church, we [Anglicans] were at odds when it came to deciding just what was to be believed on many points." * "Our 'orthodox' understanding of the Bible had been articulated for us [Christians, opposite of Mormons, Jehovah's Witneses, and Modernists] by the Church." * "... we non-Catholics had no desk where the buck stopped. Scripture clerly did not constitute such a desk, since for one thing, both parties to all disputes always appealed energetically to Scripture; and second, saint Paul had called the 'Church' not the Bible, 'the pillar and ground of the truth' (1 Tim. 3:15).
The chapter titled "Ecclesiastical Confrontation" is where I think most Christians will have some good ground for debate. Howard says that he "had to come to grips with the Church in all of her antiquity, her authority, her unity, her liturgy, and her sacraments." Then he takes these subjects individualy and discusses them. Here are some interesting and thought provoking excerpts: * "As a Fundamentalist I had discovered ... we were right, and the Fathers were wrong (about bishops and about the Eucharist)." * "The Church is here, in all her authority, judging me." * "The Church of antiquity was united. ... the Church was one." * "What did the Church from the beginning understand by worship - that is, by her corporate, regular act of worship?" * "It is [Anglicanism/Episcopal church] a church unsure of something as fundamental as sacrament, and unwilling to speak clearly." * "Anglicanism glories consciously and explicitly in its 'lack' of definition."
The rest of the book presents his 'conversion' to Catholicism. From the many 'conversion' books in this new cottage industry, I found his presentation most cogent, emotionally balanced, and spiritual. Howard talks about "the Catholicism of the books" vs. "the local Catholicism" and how an Evangelical sees the two.
A prime example of Howard's wit is the following: "The Fundamentalist appears to the Catholic to be hailing from the lunatic frince; and the Catholic appears to the Fundamentalist to be innocent of anything resembling 'a personal relationship with Jesus Christ' (which phraseology is a sort of litmust test of faith, from the Fundamentalist point of view)."
"Becoming Catholic" (name of a chapter) for Howard was after reading "Church history and Catholic theology and spirituality." And this is where the dilemma starts for me as a conservative Protestant. With all respect to Dr. Howard, I am not sure he has a good grasp of Church history. Nowhere in his 'conversion' account does Dr. Howard consider the claims of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church.
I would like to challenge the historical validity implied by the phraselogy used by Dr. Howard on pages 48-49 "...the Church early on began to look to the See of Rome, understood to be the See of Peter, as both the sign and the guarantor of the Church's unity ..."
How I wish that all Christians (Orthodox, Roman-Catholic, and Protestants) can adopt the same attitude as Dr. Howard and "speak as deeply committed Christian brothers." Indeed, this read is not for anyone in a state of pusillanimity!
A Journey Shared Nov 18, 2005
If I were able to write with anything like the eloquence of Thomas Howard I might very well have written a book very much like this one. Like Howard I was raised in a fundamentalist church. Like Howard I felt that I was missing something very important in that setting and I moved to a liturgical church where I too spent almost twenty-five years. Like Howard I still felt that something was missing and the more I studied, the more I prayed and the more I reflected, the more I felt the call to come home to Christ's Church. And finally, like Howard I finally answered that call and am now more at peace and closer to God than I have ever been.
There is very little in the way of doctrinal discussion to be found in this book but where such issues are discussed they are handled in a very forthright and clear manner. The author makes it very clear that part of what led him to the Catholic Church is that this is the Church founded by the Apostles of Christ and that they or those who were taught by them set up the structure of both the Church itself and the Mass based on the first person teachings of Jesus. Basically he says that the Catholic Church is the only Church with a true Apostolic succession and an actual commission from Christ himself to act as a guardian of orthodoxy. I couldn't possibly agree more.
The basic argument about the authority of the Church is not the major theme of this book however for this book is the very personal story of the author's spiritual journey that led him home to the Catholic Church. This is the story of a man's search for spiritual fulfillment that includes a detailed but not at all dull explanation of the factors that led him to his ultimate destination. This is also a testimony to the difficulty faced by a life-long active Protestant in taking that final step across the threshold to Catholicism. Howard clearly explains the difficulties that include both trying to learn about doctrines that are completely new to the former Protestant and the reaction one will face from friends and family. The author makes no attempt to sugar coat the fact that this journey is sometimes a scary one but also a joyful one.
Having taken this same journey I highly recommend this book to anyone who is feeling the same call that Thomas Howard and I have felt. There is no doubt in my mind that my own journey would have been aided a great deal if I had found this book earlier. For those who are already Catholic, either cradle or convert, this book can not only clear up some common misconceptions but can also clearly remind us of the glorious heritage and faithful teachings that we share with the Apostles, Saints, and great teachers of the Church. It is indeed comforting to realize that St. Andrew or St. Paul would clearly recognize the Mass that we celebrate today as being the same Mass that they celebrated almost two-thousand years ago and until I read this book I just never thought of that.
Cradle Catholic Has her eyes opened Oct 3, 2005
Thomas Howard really did a great job of describing us "cradle Catholics" and our knowledge of the church and the bible. He is a great example of how excited we should be about all we have and what the church has to offer us in terms of who's in charge and where does the buck stop ~ with the Pope. A very well written books and an easy read. I'm now enjoying his next book ~ Why Catholic?".