When we were still quite at the beginning of our journey into the Catholic Church, I somehow discovered that J.R.R. Tolkien had been a devout Catholic. And for some reason, it stuck with me. I joked with my husband, "if it's good enough for Tolkien, it's good enough for me."
But I couldn't stop thinking about it, really. This was a man who, though I had never met, I had great respect for. He depicts so perfectly the innocence of hobbits, the destructive lust for power and glory, the heroic value of suffering and dying to oneself, the beauty of life and our duty to preserve it, and the slow rot as evil creeps into our hearts and minds.
Christianity is so thoroughly woven into every aspect of The Lord of the Rings; it must have been written, I had decided, by someone who was quite sound theologically. So imagine my surprise when I learned it was written by a Catholic. A devoted one, at that.
There is something to be said about knowing someone of a certain religion, worldview, or lifestyle that makes it feels so much more reasonable, tangible, understandable. And through his published works and letters, I felt like I knew him. Before Tolkien, I had never known a Catholic; I hadn't even known of a Catholic, really.
My childhood had been relatively devoid of them; I had never been evangelized by one, as I had been by by members of other denominations and religions. I had attended a non-denomination high school where I believed what I was taught about The Church without question. And so Catholicism was never even an option or possibility in my mind.
But there I was. Letting the concept sink into my brain. Tolkien was Catholic. So why am I not?
There were a few more years to go before my husband and I were confirmed into the Church, and many more hours of praying and softening my heart and reading the Bible, the Catechism, and the Church Fathers. But this, in a small way, may have been my first step.