Monday, September 16, 2019

What really motivates most conversions to Rome?

Published Catholic conversion testimonies have a lopsided emphasis on conversion for intellectual motives, but how representative is that? 

I am always interested in anything you bring up around Catholic conversion, because I explored the topic from an educational angle in my master’s thesis, which I am currently trying to publish. And I am currently working on a Ph.D, planning to continue some of that research at a deeper level. Needless, to say I have spent a lot of time studying this topic from an academic perspective.

It is interesting that Vasquez states that most conversions he has encountered “are very cerebral or zealously aesthetic”, your apparent agreement with that assessment.

It seems that way, because of their out-sized voice, but it is in fact very wrong. The USCCB did some research some years back on the topic, and based on their study (which is by a long shot the best data available), the overwhelming majority of converts do so because they are married or engaged to a Catholic and most of them primarily come at it for mostly marital harmony reasons.

This ‘banality’ has actually an upside and a downside which I will get to. But the most important point I want to get at is that, understanding this context paints a very different picture from contrasting the two ends of the spectrum, which Vasquez does:intellectuals vs the ‘turn my life around’ crowd. Both sides of that extreme constitute a small, but very vocal type of conversion. 

The fact is most people who convert are mostly catalyzed by their spousal relationship. They enter the church without particularly grandiose expectations or opinions, and for the most part don’t talk much about their conversion. I have met quite a few devout Catholic converts, who I otherwise never would have known it without prodding (including my own wife). These people internalized it, and moved forward with varying degrees of gusto.

Most of those people who convert, (again, via the USCCB study IIRC), don’t really ever darken the door of a Catholic Church again after a few weeks. The ordinary circumstance of their conversion, leads not to a quiet, ordinary life of faith, but a checkbox to be moved on from. And why? Maybe they never cared, sure. 

1 comment:

  1. Its not just the converts who really don’t care, but the majority of the day-to-day Roman Catholics, most of whom just show up for the big events ... marriages, baptism of children, first confessions, first communions, and burials. If you show up for those, the you’re probably ok, and what you do in your own time is your own business.