Last year, Charles H. Featherstone, a reader of this blog, wrote a response to an essay I published on Time’s website, about Pope Francis. In it, Charles wrote about a childhood marked by physical and emotional abuse, and how he had moved through Islam, but it took 9/11 to make him face his deep anger … and to make a Christian of him. Here is that short essay.
It turned into a book, a memoir. I read the unedited galley on the flight to Boston this morning. It started out good, and it kept getting better, and finally I couldn’t believe how good this thing was. I’m not kidding when I say this: Charles Featherstone has written an American spiritual classic. I have never read a book like this — one that’s so ragged, raw, and real. I couldn’t put it down, except that one time, when the shock of recognition was so great that I had to set the book aside and think deeply about what I had just read.
People are going to be talking about this book when it comes out. This boy, an Army brat beaten by his father, picked on and humiliated at school, penniless, ultimately a failure in the Army. He falls into Islam because he finds true brotherhood among the outcasts, because in part he identifies with their anger at society. And then, Christianity, but by no means a happy-ever-after Christianity. Charles is a rambunctious holy mess, for sure — but I can’t recall the last time I read a memoir about faith that was so vivid and challenging and alive.
When the book — My Love Is All That Matters — comes out, we will be discussing it on this blog. Not sure when that’s going to be. It’s still being edited. It’s impossible to say which book is going to become a hit or not, but if this memoir finds the audience it deserves, it will be one of the biggest religious books of the year. Seriously, I’m not just saying that. I’ll stop writing about it now, because I want to save the comments for when it’s published.
Begging your pardon, folks, but it’s been a long, wonderful day in Boston — Alan Wolfe and his staff at the Boisi Center at Boston College were great and generous hosts — and I have to catch a 6:41am flight back home tomorrow. Goodnight.