I’ve been struggling with putting together a conversion story. I get asked so often how I got from there to here, from atheism to Catholicism, that I’d like to put together a story of my journey to share with others. The problem is how to condense it. It’s been such a wild ride, influenced by so many factors, that it’s hard to make it a brief story.
In particular, I’ve been trying to come up with a very quick version to share in social settings. Just this week two people have asked me to explain how I ended up converting to Catholicism, and both times I ended up hemming and hawing, sharing a couple of the things that were big influences, but ultimately just saying “it’s a long story.”
And then a few minutes ago I saw the quote below on a blog, and I knew I had my short answer.
I did a brief stint as a Catholic while I was growing up, but the whole sin/sinner thing didn’t appeal to me. Far too much guilt. The way I live; I’d spend my life in the confessional.
I know this mentality well. Once I got to the point of believing that some sort of higher power/spiritual realm existed, I got into create-a-God mode, looking for the religious belief systems that was most convenient for me. In this mentality, the Catholic Church was out because I didn’t need all that guilt stuff, there’s no way I’d forego using contraception, they were too hung up on “sin”, I didn’t agree with their zero-tolerance abortion stance, etc. etc. I actually started going to an Episcopal Church because I wanted “Catholic Lite” — the incense and rituals without the confining, antiquated rules.
It was all about what I wanted to be true.
And then, in large part thanks to conversations we had on this blog (here and here are a couple of examples), I started looking into some of the teachings that I had previously blown off without a second though. To my amazement, I found myself agreeing with things that I would have violently disagreed with before. I read and read and read some more, and the deeper I dug, the more I felt I was hitting upon truth. Even the most outlandish doctrines checked out.
After doing enough 180-degree turns in my views on various matters I finally clued in to the fact that I had not been searching for truth. I’d been searching for comfort.
Reading that quote today and being reminded of my old mindset made me realize that there is a short version of my conversion story:
When I decided to stop talking about being “open-minded about religion” and actually open my mind to religion, I became a Christian. And when I set aside what I want to be true to seek what is actually true, I became a Catholic.
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