If I were to tell you that I had a talking donkey, you would probably chuckle and pour another drink. If I were to insist that I was entirely serious, you would probably back away slowly and, with no masked alarm, look for the nearest exit. Nothing ruins a good party like a story about a miracle. “It was a trick of the nerves, an illusion,” those who dared to hang around would counsel, surveying me with concerned puppy eyes. “Have you taken your medication?” I do not have a donkey, but if I did, I would want it to be a talking donkey.
So begins the book that eventually made me become Catholic, a book in which Christianity is an old-growth forest, a world crowded with angels and saints and sacraments and wild theories about how the Incarnation has comprehensive implications for the universe and for us. We need a holy renaissance. But the path through Christendom is old and dangerous, and careful reconnoitering is necessary. This is, at least, the modest justification for the travelogue, When Donkeys Talk: A Quest to Rediscover the Mystery and Wonder of Christianity (Zondervan, 2013).
The strange thing is, it’s written by a Protestant; that is to say, I had not yet been received into the Church when I wrote it. I was somewhere in between, in a via media, and I was searching for home. Writing When Donkeys Talk was my way of going on a “holy pilgrimage” in search of something more.
So I plunged irreversibly into the old forests Christendom. Even though I was no Saint George when it comes to fighting dragons, I hoisted a backpack of library books, tightened my grip on my proverbial donkey’s reins, and stepped portentously onto the old trail at the edge of the darkening pines. It