April 05, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Holly Ordway, English professor and author of “Not God’s
Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.”
Holly Ordway, an English professor and author, discussed
becoming a Christian in “Not God’s Type: From Atheism to
Catholicism” on Tuesday, April 4 at Mount Saint Mary College.
Ordway, once an atheist, thought she was “not God's type.”
However, she discovered that developing her faith was the key to
finding the answers to some of life’s greatest questions.
“I never imagined that I would become Christian,” said Ordway,
“and definitely not a Catholic.”
As a child, Ordway was more interested in journeys of fantasy
than those of faith. Often, she was absorbed in J.R.R Tolkien’s
“Lord of the Rings” books or C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”
series. Ironically, she noted, the Christian themes in both
authors’ works escaped her at the time.
“Like light coming from an invisible lamp, God’s grace was
beginning to shine out from Tolkien’s works, illuminating my
godless imagination with a Christian vision,” she said. “I didn’t
know at that time that my imagination had been, as it were,
baptized on Middle Earth, but something took root there that would
flower many years later.”
As an adult, she realized that “the worldview of atheism was
very bleak,” she said. Her desire for “truth and meaning” in life
lead her to examine the Christian faith, thanks in part to her love
of Tolkien and Lewis.
“In the span of a very few months of intense reading,
discussion, and questioning, I came to the conclusion that God does
exist,” she said. “I was baptized a few months later,” at the age
Ordway began her Christian life as a Protestant. But as Tolkien
wrote in “The Hobbit,” “The road goes ever on and on.”
Slowly, Ordway discovered that she agreed more and more with the
core values of Catholicism.
“I found, time and again, that the Catholic position made more
sense to me,” she revealed. And so, she joined the Catholic Church,
where she remains to this day.
Ordway holds a PhD in English from the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of “Not God’s Type: An
Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.” Her work focuses on
imaginative apologetics, and she is the Charles Williams Subject
Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. Her current book
project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle
The talk was sponsored by the Mount’s Catholic and Dominican
Institute (CDI). CDI promotes the Mount’s heritage of St. Dominic,
advances the Dominican charism of study and service, provides a
forum for discussion of contemporary ethical issues, and enhances
Catholic and Jewish dialogue. The Institute welcomes persons of
varied faiths and acknowledges different religious traditions as
essential to the college’s intellectual and spiritual life.