Mercadante, a professor of theology at Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio, grew up in an Italian Catholic community in Newark, New Jersey. She is the child of a mixed marriage whose parents (her mother is Jewish and her father is Catholic) resolved the religion problem by avoiding it. This spiritual vacuum led Mercadante to undertake her own spiritual quest. It took her first to the Catholicism of her father’s family, next to Eastern mysticism, then to atheism, and eventually back to Christianity through an evangelical conversion experience. In time she ended up in mainline Protestantism and became a Presbyterian minister—yet without ever completely abandoning her Jewish and Catholic roots. “I’m just a reluctant Protestant,” she confesses. Hers is a gripping story entailing several marriages (one of which was abusive) and divorces, a struggle with infertility and the adoption of an infant boy.


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