Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Catholic converts vs cradle Catholics

There’s an interesting post at A Political Refugee From the Global Village, Anthony Burgess on Catholic converts, on Catholic converts vs cradle Catholics. I’m not a Catholic so I’m not really in a position to have any kind of dogmatic opinion on this subject. I was intrigued though by the suggestion that cradle Catholics tended to react to Vatican II by shrugging their shoulders and accepting it, while Catholic converts like Evelyn Waugh saw it as an unmitigated disaster.

My instincts tell me that the Catholic converts were probably correct in this case.

Converts do seem to be generally speaking more zealous than those raised in a particular creed, whether that creed is a religion or a political ideology. Converts to communism back in the pre-World War 2 period tended to be very extreme, sometimes even to the extent of becoming Soviet spies. Were they more zealous than the so-called “red diaper” babies of the postwar period, who absorbed communism with their mother’s milk? I’m not quite sure.

Converts to cults and fads (such as veganism) are of course usually very gung-ho.

And social justice warriors are often converted to the cause at university so that might explain some of their fanaticism.

The various dissident right groups (alt-right, neo-reactionaries, whatever) are of course comprised entirely of converts, which might have interesting consequences.

Getting back to religion, perhaps one reason for the weakness of modern Christianity is that it’s just not making converts on a large scale any longer. Perhaps a religion needs the zeal of converts to keep it vital and alive?


  1. The issue with most Catholic converts today, about the last twenty years or so, is that they are overwhelmingly people for whom Catholicism is simply the last bus stop. They've tried everything else, and Catholicism doesn't seem spectacularly better than what they've tried, they're just out of options. I mean this very specifically for people of the Charismatic or Evangelical nature. There are many today. Few are the converts from mainline Protestantism, or who came to the Church through an endless series of readings, histories, philosophies, and the like.

    It's been remarked that the Church today is becoming feminine. I agree with this. I think the emphasis on emotionalism from charismatic movements demonstrates this. It is not a good intellectual sign for the Church.

  2. It’s more a case, IMHO, of society being on the same page, which it’s not now.

  3. It seems rarer for a Catholic to become protestant than vice versa. Most protestants have no real idea of what it is they protest about but remain in the habit they grew up in.

    Most of the Catholics I know have interesting 'spiritual' careers, often spending long periods as 'lapsed' before returning to the Church.