As you may know, I am a sucker for a conversion story. And I am a sucker for the Duck Dynasty clan books. So I picked up the newest one by Jep and Jessica Robertson. It’s pretty much what you might expect, but I did enjoy reading about their youth (Jep had a somewhat different experience in his youth than Willie and Jase remember Jep having—imagine that), about how Jep and Jessica changed after their encounter with Jesus, about some of their private struggles, and about how they met. Their stories are pretty interesting, so if you like these guy like I do, try The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness.
I read another conversion story right after that, and the man in this story is about as far from the Louisiana good old boys as you can get. This man was raised in a secular Jewish family on Long Island and became a bestselling author of thrillers, several of which have been made into movies. The man is Andrew Klavan and his book is The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.
Klavan is an introspective man and much of his books delves into his inner life and thoughts in addition to the events in his life. There were four boys in the Klavan clan, and though the family was not poor nor plagued by terrible addiction issues as some of the Robertsons were, Klavan’s childhood was not happy. Klavan’s father for some reason was hostile to his middle son. He would root for Andrew’s failure and berate him and even hit him. One particular enraging event for his father was when he surprised Andrew in his room and found him, oh horrors, reading the Gospel of Luke. As Klavan notes, in retrospect, his father’s reaction to this was almost comically over the top given what he could have found Andrew doing.
Klavan’s mother was dutiful but aloof and she was a devout atheist. His dad never cared much for God, but he insisted the family observe many religious Jewish traditions. Klavan found this dissonance between profession and belief crazy-making and rejected the idea of God on his own.
He left home at 17 and pursued his dream of becoming a writer. He emulated his favorite writer, Raymond Chandler, by descending into alcoholism. He suffered with depression and even had a serious mental breakdown as he meandered his way through life. So how does a 50-year-old, sophisticated secular Jew come to believe that Jesus died on the cross for his sins? You will have to read the book to get that strange and interesting story.
Duck hunters and novelists. Atheistic Jews and addicted rednecks. God is surely no respecter of persons. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”
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