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A rock journalist’s long and winding road to Catholicism

Voices March 14, 2019

In her memoir Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock & Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God, Dawn Eden Goldstein looks back at her spiritual journey through New York’s music scene. (Dawn Eden Goldstein in 1986 at age 18/@DawnofMercy)

Dawn Eden is her rock and roll name, but she grew up with the last name Goldstein. Now she has written Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock & Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God, a memoir of her spiritual odyssey.

The book is amazing, because Dawn Eden Goldstein is a very talented writer. In the first chapter, she immediately transports us into the mind of her five-year-old self, giving us inner access to her spiritual yearning and childhood trauma.

Her journey of healing from there is remarkable to behold. Every step along the way, she provides a present-tense account of her days. We are able to experience her joys and her troubles from the inside, thanks to her unexpectedly direct and honest narrative.

Raised Jewish, Goldstein found her way to Catholicism in no small part because of the witness of the Catholic Church on pro-life issues. Along the way, it’s great fun to hear her unedited inner thoughts, such as her hilarious observations on conversion attempts by Christians who are clueless about Judaism.

Her keen sense of perception and sharp intelligence are manifest 

Her keen sense of perception and sharp intelligence is manifest in every word she writes. When she worked for the New York Daily News, even the headlines she wrote exploded with wit.

A front-page photo of the self-promoting real estate mogul’s new bride in her wedding dress gets the label: THE LADY IS A TRUMP; and a man’s confession to murdering his fiancée’s pet: CAT KILLER’S MEOW CULPA.

From a young age, Goldstein was burdened with depression and thoughts of wanting to kill herself, but despite her PTSD she nonetheless views the world from the margins with her enhanced powers of observation. As a teenager, her misgivings are straightforward: “Whatever Jesus may have said, his followers have created a different world from the one he imagined.”

Her criticisms thus land on target: “Christians run this country. Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority helped elect the president. But I don’t see them talking about how it’s a blessing to be persecuted or insulted. I see them siding with the rich over the poor and the strong over the weak.”

Her critical discernment led her to seek out the best music

Her critical discernment led her to seek out the best music when she was a rock and roll journalist and historian living in New York City. 

The book is structured with the retro vibe of a mix-tape, as each chapter begins with a song title written on the label of a cassette. Goldstein’s memories of the music scene are vivid, and it’s enlightening to read about her unique encounters with artists like Robyn Hitchcock and Del Shannon. But the best part is always how she relays her inner thoughts as each episode unfolds.

She writes about her attraction to the power of music, especially whenever songs are gifts of love. The magic of live music, with its healing balm, becomes central to her conception of life: “This show is only tonight. Only tonight is this group of people here to experience it. Only tonight are these musicians performing alongside each other. Everyone is together with one another for only a few more minutes, until the last chord reverberates into oblivion.”

The book possesses considerable literary merit

The book possesses considerable literary merit. Not only does it foster empathy through a direct sharing of the vulnerabilities of a human soul, it also artfully considers the delicate beauty of music as akin to the way love works in life.

Encountering the love of family and friends, Goldstein torments herself: “who exactly is the me they love? I can’t manage to hold onto a worthwhile boyfriend or job. My paying freelance-writing gigs have practically dried up. My apartment is an unholy mess. And I’m so damn sensitive; even minor slights from strangers can make me want to cry or cut myself.”

Eventually the long and winding road of Goldstein’s arduous journey finds her, at the end of the book, receiving Communion in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, praying to Mary.

“At this moment, I sense that, in a real way, God has loved me through every human being who has ever loved me,” she writes. “And that where his love is, there is Mary’s love too.”

Just as music seems fragile, seeming only to last for a time, so too does our own connection to love. Goldstein’s frank descriptions of her unhappiness at various points in her life make her memoir memorable. They also make her story relatable. 

But she succeeds in showing us where happiness and healing lies. Gifts of love abound all around us. The people and the music in our lives are signs of divine love for us and, to understand that, we need only to open our ears.