Sunday, September 23, 2012

More About Conversion Stories...

I like to watch EWTN's Journey Home show, and this one is particularly fine: an interview with a former Mennonite who is now a teacher of Catholic theology.

I really wish some of the atheists and agnostics I know would watch an interview like this one, as much for the tone of the conversation as for its substance. They might be surprised at the lack of cheap euphoria and cheeesy rhapsodising. They might be taken aback to see how calm, measured, self-aware, well-read and balanced the interviewee appears. They might be surprised to see that religious faith is part of the whole man (or woman), rather than some suspension of rationality, or of the sense of the ridiculous, in an otherwise sane human being-- a sort of cordoned-off area of craziness, which is how I suspect many non-believers view the religious beliefs of their friends and relatives.

Well, perhaps some open-minded atheist or agnostic might come on this link and see for themselves.


  1. I've seen a lot of episodes of that show. I liked the ones were they would just have ordinary people or else complete reprobates on the show(like the ex-biker and drug dealer who ended up becoming a monk in some Catholic Ukrainian order or the ex-skinhead turned Chesterton scholar, Joseph Pearce) more so than the episodes about some religious scholar who converted. The latter tend to turn into a rehashing of the last 500 years of monk's quarrels. It might not be true that sinners make better saints, but I think that they do make for at least more interesting saints than reformed Pharisees.

    I also try to sometimes catch the Chesterton show they do on that network and the old 50's telecasts of Fulton Sheen. Looking back on the old shows, it's funny how everything from those first few years of television was so high minded and moral. Sheen won an emmy tv award for giving lectures on Dostoevsky and Shakespeare on a major network. Then you fast forward 10 years and you've got hot girls running around in bikinis on Gilligan's Island. It's amazing how quickly the best of intentions went right down the tube.

  2. But dare to say that and you get the usual, "Oh, people have ALWAYS been complaining that culture is going to hell..."

    I do like the intellectuals on the Journey Home myself. Maybe because I envy that world where life is lived on a mental plane, it seems very refined and free of distractions and leisurely. As long as they remain intellectually serious, of course-- I'm not talking about people who attend conferences on Baudrillard.

  3. I grew up Lutheran, and I remember as a teenager someone in one of the confirmation classes asking our pastor what the difference was between Catholics and Lutherans. His answer (something about holy water) seemed seemed to me to be sniping and petty besides being incredibly arrogant and offhand. I remember subsequently thinking "for this we split up Christendom and fought the 30 year's war?" In all fairness, the pastor and I disliked each other personally (we were different types of Germans) so that may unfairly color my memories, but that confirmation process in general left with me with a diminished interest in the finer sort of doctrinal distinctions.