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Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion

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  • Posted April 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Who, What, Why, When and Where

    An "Everyman" version of the 11 individuals portrayed: . Family with a nonexistent or weak affiliation with organized religion . Personal interest in music, writing, or art . Serious approach to higher education and independent study . Period of trying different religions, often mainline Protestant sects, before choosing Catholicism In addition, a number of these conversions were influenced by examples of right-to-life Christians. Several also report dramatic events along the path before and shortly after their conversion. On the spiritual side are a spoken message, audible to others; an ecstasy; and a series of vision-like religious experiences. Physically, there was a brush with death in an earthquake, a heart attack, a nervous breakdown, and a deep vein thrombosis. The seekers had both positive and negative experiences when approaching clergy for instruction. One was turned away by a parish priest who said he was too busy. Others were welcomed and mentored by priests. One of the storytellers recalls evaluating priests on the basis of their answer to this questions: Do you believe in random and chance? She rejected the priest who said "Of course," but found her teacher in one who responded "No, my dear, certainly not! God is either God of everything or God of nothing." As one would expect, the stories editor Rebecca Vitz Cherico has chosen are sometimes connected. Chapter 5 is the conversion story of the her father, Paul Vitz, who came to Catholicism early in his practice as a psychologist. In Chapter 8, searcher Jonathan Fields takes another's advice and sees counselor Vitz, who urges Fields to get in touch with a Fr. Halligan. The author of Chapter 8, Ken Krabbenhoft, writes that Halligan is the one "who gave me instruction and brought me into full communion with the Christian faith." Many of the chapters end with profound quotations from the atheists-turned-Catholic. Mattie Berhang: "I have never regretted my conversion. Life has never been so full or so rich, and I have gained the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen" Olga, on why she is Catholic: "Because I have found that the message of forgiveness and renewal, even through suffering and self-sacrifice, is true in my life and the lives of those I love."

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