Mondays are usually not the best of days, but I was quite joyous to see that Leah Libresco of the “Unequally Yoked” blog announced that she was now attending RCIA and that she was moving her blog from the atheist portal on Patheos to the Catholic portal.
The “Unequally Yoked” blog was in part based or her disputes with there Catholic boyfriend. This is of course not the first time somebody arguing with a Catholic spouse or boy/girlfriend to get them out of Catholicism turns about. I think of Jimmy Akin’s conversion story for one. Or even in the case of my own conversion story since my wife was a cradle Catholic while I was a cradle Atheist.
It is always rather interesting when an atheist blogger comes over to the “dark side”. This was true in the case of the former “Raving Atheist” blog, Jennifer Fulwiler, and now Leah’s blog with hundreds of resulting comments.
Now it is quite easy to fall into the us vs. them divide and seeing a conversion as a win for our team. Kind of like the Protestant verbiage of “winning a soul for Christ” and keeping score. The personal story is easily lost in such a view. For anyone who had been a life-long atheist up to that point coming to belief is quite difficult and even more so when done in a public way. There is that private interrogation when first you suspect that you are leaving atheism behind and have come to belief in God. That private interrogation can be quite rough and quite scary as you question your motives and try to verify the use of reason that has brought you to this point. Atheism for me had become a crutch and a reason not to repent of my sins. Belief in God is more than realizing that your Sundays now have a recurring event for the rest of your lives. The real recurring event is continual repentance and that is quite annoying when your previous refrain was “I am only human.”
Going from atheism to Catholicism is kind of like a rags to riches story. From having nothing in the spiritual life to the riches of what the Catholic faith delivers. So many saints, so many devotions, and oh so many books! I look back at all my years as an atheist with a certain fondness in that I was striving for the truth despite bumbling around like Mr. Magoo. It is hard to describe the joy of being Catholic despite all the challenges. To find that you could actually overcome sins that you had pretty much given up on despite periodic applications of stoicism. But coming into relationship with Jesus is what is the most joyous. The ride on his back as the lost sheep being returned to the hold is wonderful ride.
There are some advantages of going from atheism to Catholicism compared to conversion from Protestantism. For one once you get over the “yeah there is a God” thing all the Catholic distinctive are much easier to grasp. Not having the Protestant prejudices towards Catholicism makes some of the faith much easier to learn. The fact that the Catholic faith is symphonic and that all the truths of the faith interlock and support each other you are constantly awed in this new understanding that just becomes stronger over the years. There are certainly atheist prejudices that have to be overcome such as what a big lie the Church vs. science meme is. I am quite happy that Leah Libresco will miss out on the theism phase. Coming to belief in God for me did not mean instantly embracing the Catholic Church, it was some years of first a general theism and then movement towards the Catholic Church after reading much of the religious section at the library.
So welcome home Leah!