Warning: This Is a Dangerous Book | Lorraine V. Murray | Introduction to Confessions of an Ex-Feminist
Warning: This is a dangerous book. It may make some feminists see red, and some atheists think black thoughts. It may rile up readers who think all religions are equally valid and cause consternation in the hearts of some Catholics, who think they can pick and choose among the dogmas of their faith.
It is a book that had to be written, although I will admit that I resisted the impulse for a long while. Whenever I would think, "I must tell the tale of my conversion experience", I would realize that this entailed divulging what came before, which included the years when I waged a vendetta against Catholicism. But it also meant describing my childhood as a Catholic schoolgirl, when one of my biggest problems was grappling with what were called "impure thoughts".
I wondered if it was presumptuous to believe that the details of my life were special enough to record for others to read. But just as I was thinking along these lines, a student would come by my desk at the theology library where I work, and we would somehow broach the topic of conversion. And if I were to mention my return to Catholicism after more than twenty years away, a predictable thing would happen.
"What made you come back?" the student would ask. And I would fumble around, because the question is so much like asking a person who has been married twenty-five years, "What made you fall in love?" How could I explain, in a matter of a few minutes, how and why I had come back to the religion that I had so thoroughly and passionately despised for so many years?
This dilemma sent me to my computer to try to hammer out a few lines about my return to Catholicism. And, sure enough, as I tried to explain why I came back, I had to tell why I had left, which meant telling how I arrived there in the first place. There was just no getting around it: I was going to have to tell the whole tale.
Now, if you are fortunate enough to have led a sunny life with myriad memories of joyful picnics and sweet meanderings along the seashore, writing your life story might be a happy endeavor to undertake. For me, though, the project has meant reliving bitter moments, such as a childhood crippled by my father's gambling addiction, and my thoroughly wild years in college, when I lived in an apartment complex aptly nicknamed "Sin City".
Some readers, I fear, may be scandalized by this book, when they realize how many years I went my merry way as a sinner, dabbling in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and launching my own personal war against God. Other readers may glimpse themselves in these pages and think, "Oh, dear, I have been through that, just as she has! This all sounds familiar, and I thought I was the only one!"
The belief that I was the only one plagued me for years. There were times when I suspected that other people had gone to college to write term papers, study for exams, graduate, and get married, all the while obeying social conventions, saying their prayers, and paying their bills.
Then there was me. It is true that I went to college to get a series of degrees, but I did so by partying like a fiend and touting the virtues of nihilism. The T-shirt for my life would have echoed the words of Dostoyevsky: "If God is dead, then anything is possible." Of course, college days often are connected with rebellion, but my style of rebellion lasted over twenty years, and as a philosophy teacher, I was able to tempt others to join me.
I hope this book finds its way into the hands of others who were, or are, as nihilistic as I was, so they will know they are not alone and may realize that, no matter how deep the hole they have dug, there is always an escape route.
C. S. Lewis once warned that an atheist could not be too careful about what he reads, because Bibles are left open all over the place, and unbelievers would have to guard themselves against the danger of taking a glimpse.' I hope that many people, atheists as well as believers, will take more than a glimpse at this book and know that they were sufficiently warned.
Confessions of An Ex-Feminist
Lorraine V. Murray
Confessions is the honest and heart-rending account of a woman who was born into a Catholic family, attended parochial schools and fully embraced the beliefs of her faith, but ran into major roadblocks in college. Amidst the radical feminist college environment of the 1960's, she lost her faith, and her morality, jumping aboard the bandwagon of "free love." She indulged in a series of love relationships in college, all of which crashed and burned. Despite the obvious contradiction between feminist teachings and her own experience, Murray still believed she had to free herself from the yoke of tradition.
Attaining a doctorate in philosophy, with an emphasis on the feminist writings of Simone de Beauvoir, Murray taught philosophy in college. For many years, she launched a personal vendetta against God and the Catholic Church in the classroom, trying to persuade students that God did not exist, mocking values Catholics hold dear, and touted feminism as the cure for many social ills. When she discovered she was pregnant, Murray followed the route that feminists offer as a solution for unmarried women. Much to her surprise, her abortion was a shattering emotional experience, which she grieved over for years. It was the first tragic chink in her feminist armor.
After her marriage in 1982, she anguished over the decision to have children, but became an advocate of the "child-free" movement, believing children were burdens and life could be happy life without them. Later in her forties, Murray experienced a mysterious series of events in which it seemed that "someone" was inviting her back to God. The mysterious calls came from different ports, including nature, books and other people. Gradually, she realized that the One seeking her was Christ, and the place He was calling her to was the Catholic Church. Eventually realizing it was only in the Church that she would find what she was seeking--the person of Christ and his love and mercy--Murray returned to the Church, and finally found healing and forgiveness for the abortion.
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Lorraine V. Murray, Ph.D., is the religion columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and also writes an award-winning column for The Georgia Bulletin. She is the author of Grace Notes, Why Me? Why Now?, and How Shall We Celebrate? Murray lives in Decatur, Georgia.
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