I’m an atheist who often carries crystal rosary beads and a relic of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. My grandparents, Mary and Gus, bought them both at the Vatican where they had traveled to see Pope Paul VI canonize Mother Seton. The rosary beads were a gift to me some months later when I made my first communion and thirty years later my grandmother would give me the relic, which I’ve had an odd fixation on since I first glanced at it as a seven-year-old. The relic is a bone fragment set on a linen bed encased in silver and glass. In my hand it reminds me that the whole enterprise is witchcraft and of the miracle of faith. It’s tempting to dismiss it all, all the God stuff, as silly—but lots of people so much smarter than me believe, so who am I to question their faith? A better use of my time is to see the questions—and the answers—through the power of these books.
- A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman by Nedjma
- Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
- Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrap
- What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin
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