Friday, June 22, 2012

Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism

Here is something that you don't see every day:  a person with Catholic boyfriend or girlfriend joins the Catholic Church.
Leah Libresco, who’d been a prominent atheist blogger for the religion website Patheos, announced on her blog this week that after years of debating many “smart Christians,” she has decided to become one herself, and that she has begun the process of converting to Catholicism.
Libresco, who had long blogged under the banner “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend,” said that at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.
 “I had one thing that I was most certain of, which is that morality is something we have a duty to,” Libresco told CNN in an interview this week, a small cross dangling from her neck. “And it is external from us. And when push came to shove, that is the belief I wouldn’t let go of. And that is something I can’t prove.” ...
Libresco’s announcement has left some atheists scratching their heads.

No head scratching for me. Many people convert to the religion of their significant other. Also, it is very common for people to mistake socialization with God-inspired morality. Socialization runs deep, and it is difficult to think objectively about some of the most basic societal norms that have been hammered into us over the years.

This lesson was hit home for me when I read Barbara Haggerty's book, Fingerprints of God. Hagerty used to be a Christian Scientist.  She tells the story of the first time that she took Tylenol (a violation of the church's stand against conventional medicine).  She felt extremely guilty , notwithstanding the fact that she had already lost her faith in Mary Baker Eddy's teachings.  The idea that taking a painkiller is a moral evil is ridiculous to non-Christian Scientists, but her socialization was very deep. I similarly felt guilty the first time that I violated the Sabbath Day restrictions of the Mormon Church.  My sense of discomfort was not a sign of divine censure any more than Hagerty's.

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