Fans of Dawn Eden, well-known Catholic-convert and recent First Things speaker, will surely want to read Alexandra Molotkow’s new profile of Eden in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (August 11 edition). The article connects the story of the late Curt Boettcher, a highly talented (but largely unrecognized) musician, with Dawn’s own unique journey, from rock afficionado to dedicated Catholic writer.
During her time covering the music scene, Dawn’s writings helped renew interest in several recording artists, notably Harry Nilsson, whose recent biographer Alyn Shipton credits her with beginning the reappraisal of his work. She also had been one of Boettcher’s biggest supporters, writing liner notes to reissues of his CDs and hoping to write a biography. The biography never materialized, but Boettcher’s music, especially the memorable tracks he recorded with The Millenium, like “It’s You,” remains with Eden till this day.
Molotkow shares Eden’s enthusiasm for Boettcher and, wanting to learn more about her fellow admirer, sought her out.
What Molotkow discovered about Eden surprised, fascinated, and even frightened her a little: It’s not often that a leading secular rock journalist converts to Catholicism and decides to pursue a doctorate in sacred theology. When Molotkow also learned that Eden had authored The Thrill of the Chaste—an acclaimed book championing chastity—she hesitated to contact Eden at all, fearing “she would shoot me down in a blaze of hellfire.” But Molotkow finally mustered the courage to write her, and Eden could not have been more generous, disarming the apprehensive Molotkow.
Eden’s latest book is My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints, a treatment of saints who were abused and who have helped many survivors overcome their pain, including Eden herself. While that may sound like a subject far removed from the secular world of rock, Molotkow’s article does a remarkable job at showing the points of convergence and continuity between Eden’s old and new lives. Specifically, Eden’s relationships to the objects of her admiration—gifted artists and the saints—are not as different as they may seem. Similarities exist. As Molotkow writes: “[Eden] admits there’s some truth to that: each interest springs from a desire to find someone greater than she is, an example to strive toward.” And just as Eden helped rescue Nilsson and Boettcher from unjust neglect, so too is she now helping people appreciate little-known saints, like Blessed Laura Vicuna and St. Josephine Bakhita, whose riches await anyone who calls upon them. Indeed, Eden’s quest for spiritual healing began in the secular world: It was an alternative rock musician who introduced her to Chesterton, which led to her conversion.