Goth tattoo artist Kat Von D recently sat down with BlazeTV’s Allie Beth Stuckey to discuss her conversion to Christianity (see transcript here). And Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim turned ultra-atheist, announced that she attends church regularly and admitted that “Christianity is everything.” Does he have three celebrity turns as well as deaths? If so, let Tom Cruise rest in peace. Can you imagine the level of enthusiasm he would bring to a St. Paul or Fulton Sheen biopic?
What exactly does it mean to convert? The kind of skeptical reactions to Von D’s and Ali’s own conversions make it clear that we are not entirely sure. Holier than thou evangelicals studied Von D’s baptism video for evidence that she was not sincere. And Andrew Sullivan couldn’t resist poking a little about the practical nature of Ali’s turning to Christ.
“As a person and a friend, I can tell you that I am thrilled that Ayaan is on that journey and I pray that it continues for her, and that she also has the deepest faith. It’s just that those who have will come to understand that never write an essay about it, never try to declare anything yourself or try to believe so that Western civilization can survive. please. ”
Both of these criticisms are based on the common popular understanding that faith is like falling in love. Faith in God is a feeling that needs to be understood, and the more you say it, the less it becomes. There is some truth to this, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The problem with being “on fire for Jesus” is that, like any honeymoon, it doesn’t last. Nor does it stand up to scrutiny. Therefore, all “former evangelicals” are abandoning the Son of Man as if he were a bad boyfriend who “does not meet their needs.” Even worse are those who have been taught to believe that God is supposed to do all the work. If he’s real, he’ll give you an autograph.
Maybe it happens to a few special people, but most of us have to try because faith is also a matter of will. Christianity is either true or not. If that’s true, it covers everything from the Krebs cycle to perfect fifths to why David Bowie has two eye colors. “I’m not a religious person.” Maybe I should say I’m not a “gravity person.” Cliffs don’t matter.
For Christians, Christianity is just a reality. To reject God is to reject reality. Frank Seed’s “theology and sanity‘ makes this point by combining two concepts that we don’t often think of together. Religion in 2023 seems best understood as a personal preference or lifestyle — what does sanity have to do with it? Yet Seed’s 75-year-old book offers It is a powerful reminder of what is really at stake in matters of faith. “Ignoring the presence of God is not just being irreligious. It’s a kind of insanity, just like missing out on other things that are actually there… Remember, that’s not true.” It’s about living in the same world as everyone else, it’s about living in the real world. ”
Today, not only can we not agree on what is “really there,” we also cannot agree on whether it is possible or even desirable to know it. What is particularly troubling is how comfortable we are with this fundamental lack of agreement. In a culture where emotional intensity ultimately determines what is important, the quiet, steady voice of sanity is easily drowned out.
The divine is now within us. Our only duty is to recognize and develop it. (Don’t look too closely at where we get our sense of right and wrong from). But as Helen Andrews points out in her 2014 essay,AA Envy” There is one doubt in American culture that God still holds us accountable. A recovering alcoholic has at least one commandment he must follow. That is, don’t drink alcohol. However, harsh experience shows that pure willpower alone is not enough. Alcoholics have to surrender to something bigger than themselves. Admitting that you pray to God will likely be met with confusion, if not ridicule, in some circles. However, if you replace “God” with “higher power,” even the most cynical atheist will give you a pass. Andrews concludes his article by imagining the AA fellowship extending to all people as a kind of “anonymous sinner.” “When the lost children of a post-religious world glimpse through a church cellar window, the very things that inspire such longing are also found one floor above.”
People in recovery often talk about being given the “gift of despair.” Our situation, born to die, is not hopeless. Even the most staunch materialist among us would recognize the value of some kind of “spirituality”, even metaphorically, when saying goodbye to the dead. Honestly, what would an atheist’s funeral look like?May include readings of Philip Larkin’s beautiful and downright dark poetry “Aubade” It describes with breathtaking candor the “certain extinction we are traveling through.” Larkin brutally dismisses all ways of dealing with our fears, including religion, saying, “That vast moth-eaten musical brocade/was made to pretend we’ll never die.” states.
But one may wonder whether Larkin ever seriously investigated this issue. Existential despair, like blind faith, can tempt escape from reality. Philosopher and Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft has summarized this in a rigorous and easy-to-read summary: “Twenty Arguments” Because of God’s presence. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking clarity on issues obscured by childish appeals to emotion and politics on both sides.