Lisa De Pasquale’s first published book is Finding Mr. Righteous (Post Hill Press (2014), 241 pages) which chronicles her dozen years of dating in the DC area. De Pasquale worked in conservative circles, but the book mostly eschews politics. De Pasquale’s friend and mentor Ann Coulter blurbed about Finding Mr. Righteous as “A true Christian story, disguised as racy Chick Lit. Her prologue proclaims: “ This book is about the men I’ve met in a quest to know Him.” While Chick Lit is not in my usual reading wheelhouse, I was intrigued to learn of a faith quest which was augmented by being involved with: an atheist; a Catholic; an Evangelical;, a Quaker; a prominent Protestant preacher; a Jew; an Asiatic Indian; as well as a non-denominational Believer.
De Pasquale should be credited for her candor in writing about uncomfortable personal attributes.
The book has the quality of being like Bridget Jones Diary Does the District of Calamity, with the caveat that the author is decidedly based in Northern Virginia and not directly in DC.
For most of the book, De Pasquale’s writing style takes a breezy, conversational tone, including her recounted email epistolary exchanges. But she also displays a trait of including too many insignificant details without delving deeper, which blunts the story of her spiritual journey.
De Pascquale was baptizes as a Catholic but had never attended Mass until her Catholic boyfriend took her to one on the Catholic University campus. She was rebaptized at the age of ten at a Florida Southern Baptist church even though she did not feel the call. But De Pasquale thought of herself as a Christian-In-Name-Only (CINO). Thus she was not troubled to be being romantically involved with an atheist. The author opined that she did not feel like she was a member of the (Christian) club.
It is a pity that for most of her ecumenical amorous encounters De Pasquale seems deeply superficial. When she went to Mass with her Catholic squeeze, she commented that she felt awkward since she did neither instinctively know when to stand nor did did she know the ritual prayers by rote memory. Thus the author admits to not knowing what was going on. But she did not really seem to demand a Catechesis. When her Catholic boyfriend would offhandedly mention that he was going to bible study at a bar (presumably Theology on Tap), she was confused but never pursued it further. When questioned about his faith, the Catholic said: “I’m Catholic. This is what I believe, and you’re welcomed to come if you’re into it.” Apparently, that open invitation was not evangelical enough.
De Pasquale pursued an older interest who was labeled “The Evangelical”. That hardly seems like an apt description of someone attending The Falls Church (Anglican). They are more evangelical than Anglo-Catholic, but their worship is sacramental in nature which would be at odd with a Pentacostals Christians who are often associated with Evangelicals. Apparently offering a prayer of joy to a stressed acquaintance, a well loved booklet, a study bible and encouraging her twice attend church was insufficient evangelization, especially for the author who does not intimate ever really reading the material.
The denouement of Finding Mr. Righteous, De Pasquale’s conscience was touched by the example of an upright Christian, and she realized that she her willing participation in affairs made her no better than the religious hypocrites with whom she was involved, yet she lets the divorced Preacher who used her for phone sex off pretty lightly.
The style of the book shifted at the end which ceded the focus to Mr. Righteous’ recounting of the story about Bathsheba, which was told in detailed prose, punctuated by a contemporary explicative. For the author, this non-pretentious, non-judgmental sharing was the sort of sharing which spoke to her soul.
After reading this self proclaimed Chick Lit, I am happy that the author has found her path on the journey home, it did not strike me as an instructive book for others to do so. Several times, the author opined that Christianity was a club. As someone with a sacramental spirituality, I understand Baptism as both a ritual to join a family of redeemed sinners (i.e. Christians) and as a rebirth to new life from our Savior’s expiation of the wages of sin. Knowing that a Heavenly Father loves us so much that he would send his only begotten Son to die for us to remain in relation with Him could greatly increase the self-esteem of a believer. Moreover, Christians usually put this faith into practice via a community and reach out to the world. How this has translated in the author’s experience is unclear.
Read Finding Mr. Righteous if you want to enjoy a page turner piece of Chick Lit. Alas, the book is unlikely to satisfy an enthusiast of the New Evangelization, a conservative political junkie or someone seeking insight on deepening one’s Christian faith.