Thursday, January 15, 2004

On Conversion...

How should we relate to our secular worldview upon accepting Christ? Does it necessarily depend on the claims of the worldview? In the December 2003 issue of First Things, in an article titled, Coincidence & Conversion, Alicia Chesser describes her path from fundamental protestantism to existentialist meaninglessness to, ultimately, Catholicism. It's an interesting tale, especially where she recounts her inevitable coming to grips with the consequences of her existentialist worldview: "It was around this time, age fourteen or fifteen, that I began to be attracted to the writers and thinkers who described the world as a fundamentally meaningless, if more or less benign, place. I read up on Buddhism, finding its depiction of “nothingness” appealing. A common thread throughout these writings—existentialist, Buddhist, and “beat” alike—was that joy was possible despite the absence of a source for that joy, that good could be done even though no such thing as “the good” existed. I wanted to believe it. I wanted to love life, but I didn’t want God interfering to tell me how or what to love. It would soon become clear that what I wanted was, very simply, a lie. One summer afternoon, my two closest friends came to my house to tell me that our friend Rachel... had driven her car far out onto a rural road, climbed a hill, and shot herself in the mouth. None of us knew how to handle this: the shock of her death, the way it happened, the loss, even how to relate to each other now. At her memorial service... as we prayed the Our Father that day, tears came to my eyes, not just for Rachel but for the emptiness that was in all our hearts. For many in our group of friends, whose homes were broken or filled with abuse and sadness, who had not grown up in the Church, the very idea of a loving Father was an absurdity. I knew that He existed, that He loved me. I grieved that Rachel hadn’t lived to know it. Nothingness was now very concrete to me and my friends. It wasn’t freedom. It was hell. Truth, trust, community: much later John Paul II’s trinomial would teach me what was missing. True community can’t exist without trust, which in turn can’t exist without a foundation in the truth." In Alicia's case, it could be argued, she not only discarded the fundamentals of her worldview, in favor of the Biblical Worldview, but also tossed out any excess baggage that accompanied her false beliefs.

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