Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The atheist orthodoxy that drove me to faith

Below is a link to a great column by Megan Hodder, a Catholic convert who was a devotee of the 'New Atheists', those angry and fundamentalist atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, until she read Aquinas, George Weigel, and Pope Benedict.  But the intellectual writing was just the spark, it was contact with 'real life' Catholics who brought her into the Church.

"My friendships with practising Catholics finally convinced me that I had to make a decision. Faith, after all, isn’t merely an intellectual exercise, an assent to certain propositions; it’s a radical act of the will, one that engenders a change of the whole person. Books had taken me to Catholicism as a plausible conjecture, but Catholicism as a living truth I came to understand only through observing those already serving the Church within that life of grace."

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing at the Catholic Herald (UK), it is well worth it.  Catholicism can be very exciting when you encounter it in books from great writers.  It is so all encompassing that when you discover one person, such as Chesterton, you will be lead to others (Belloc) and then you will be brought into a whole other topic such as distributism, which will lead you to economics and justice, which will lead you into other people and topics, and on and on etc...  But, without real encounters with genuine Christian people and good Liturgy, it can be just intellectual stimulation.  As the author of the column puts it:

"I grew up in a culture that has largely turned its back on faith. It’s why I was able to drift through life with my ill-conceived atheism going unchallenged, and at least partially explains the sheer extent of the popular support for the New Atheists: for every considerate and well-informed atheist, there will be others with no personal experience of religion and no interest in the arguments who are simply drifting with the cultural tide.

As the popularity of belligerent, all-the-answers atheism wanes, however, thoughtful Christians able to explain and defend their faith will become an increasingly vital presence in the public square."

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