Separated at Birth?

In German folklore a walking ghost who looks just like you is called Doppelganger. Being a science fiction fan, I first saw the word not used in its original meaning, but as a word to refer to your alternate self from a parallel timeline.

But I am using the word neither in its folklore sense nor its science fiction sense, but to refer to a man who shares my spirit (such as the dry humor and the hatred of irrationality) and shares the spirit of what happened to me, even in some of the details (such as accusations of insanity from people I had thought were friends or colleagues) when I say I have met my Doppelganger.

Good Grief! The man even quotes Aristotle! We are practically twins.

Here is the article, from State Press Magazine (


From Atheism to Catechism

By Leah LeMoine
September 27

One man found salvation in a place he never thought he would.

Imagine society’s collective shock if Hillary Clinton were to join the National Rifle Association…

Josh Horn’s friends were hit with a shock wave of that magnitude when Horn, then an ardent atheist, announced his resignation as president of the Secular Free Thought Society, an ASU club known for its skepticism of religion. Horn had committed the ultimate taboo and sealed his self-imposed excommunication with one act: he decided to become a Catholic.

Mr Horn’s youthful experiences are briefly described. Coming from a Protestant household so strict and narrow that he could not watch Pokemon (because the pocket monsters evolved) he became a Deist and then an atheist in High School.

The article continues:

“I had a lot of anger and I sort of took on a victim mindset,” Horn says. “I was pretty antagonistic toward religions in general … I gave myself this personal mission to prove to everyone that every one (religion) was wrong.”It was this Horn who started college at ASU and quickly made his way to the highest position in the Secular Free Thought Society, propelled by his new passion for privileging truth and reason over religious dogma and manipulated spirituality. He came prepared with an arsenal of arguments and counterarguments informed by his extensive reading, ready to verbally scrap with anyone foolish enough to get in his line of logical fire.

“He used to really live for debate and changing people’s minds,” says Ryan Jungbluth, a close friend of Horn’s and a fellow Catholic convert. “He has a low threshold for stupidity, but it’s rarely uncharitable. A lot of people who are logically and rhetorically gifted are the same way.”

Indeed, Horn’s intelligence “can be almost threatening,” says Fahad Alam, who has been Horn’s friend since high school and has seen him through his ideological transformations. Alam was raised a Muslim but has also converted to Catholicism. (Horn’s influence played no small part in Jungbluth’s and Alam’s paths, and the men have formed a strong support group for each other.)

Three months into his presidency, in March of 2010, Horn — the avowed and vociferous atheist — had a religious experience while reading the Litany of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic prayer.

“The best way I can explain it is it wasn’t just perceiving something or experiencing something, it was experiencing some particular thing in a whole new way of experiencing it,” Horn says. “And it was the fact that it was a new way that was strange, more so than the interaction with the new thing … The only word I can use for it is a mystical sense. I had never experienced it. I had never perceived anything that way before and I would maintain that what I perceived mystically was Jesus Christ.”

Horn, usually so articulate, was at a loss for words to describe his experience.

“And yeah, that was weird, but it was more that this was a mystical thing that was weird, even than who I was perceiving,” Horn says. “It was a whole new way of experiencing reality, to which there is no analogy in anything else that I’ve experienced, and because of that it’s very difficult to explain.”

Contrary to most tales of divine encounters and mystical happenings, this one doesn’t have an ostentatiously emotional climax—no arms thrown in the air in jubilation, no praising the lord with gospel choir lungs, no golden rays emanating from the clouds. Instead, the thoroughly rational Horn was irked.

“I was actually kind of annoyed that it happened, and scared – not comforted in the least,” Horn says. “I didn’t want it, I didn’t think it was possible. It just happens, and you come out of it realizing that this obliges you to change your life and the entire course you thought it was taking immediately.”

He resigned his presidency the next day.

“I thought it was an April Fool’s joke,” Jungbluth, a senior studying German, says.


“There were suggestions that I was mentally ill,” Horn says. “I expected that. I was describing an intense internal experience … (and) it’s a group based entirely on rejecting this. I just decided to move on with my life.”


“Whatever my worldview is, I am passionate about it and its implications, primarily because I’m not a relativist,” Horn says. “I never have been.”

Horn says he’s the happiest he’s ever been and has let go of a lot of the corrosive anger he felt during his Southern Baptist childhood and atheist young adulthood. Still, he’s no Pollyanna — his dry sense of humor, impatience for irrationality and deadpan intellectualism are still intact and likely always will be.


Ultimately, Horn hopes that his journey can be used in service of his faith and to help others who are seeking truth and meaning in their lives.

“Aristotle said that the purpose of a good flute is to be played well,” Horn says. “I think the purpose of a good story is to be told.”

Read the whole thing here:

For those of you not familiar with the Sacred Heart Litany, shame on you and go to Mass. The sacraments are the source of supernatural life.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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4 Responses to Separated at Birth?

  1. Sean Michael says:

    Dear Mr. Wright:

    Yes, I can see why or how Mr. Horn’s experience so closely paralleled yours. As well as some obvious differences. Such as how you, in a moment of desperation, asked God for evidence He existed, which He then gave you as you were having a heart attack. And, welcome home, Mr. Horn!

    Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

  2. Foxfier says:

    *laughs* Always glad to welcome more aboard– the Church has good history with folks who were NOT prime examples of stereotypical converts!

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I like him. He believes that ideas mean something, and that you have to do something about them, no matter how embarrassing it is personally. That’s a strength.

    I do notice the connection to the Sacred Heart. An awful lot of Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. have a sort of unrecognized-as-such devotion to the Sacred Heart, because there were a lot of olden days Protestants who bought pictures of Jesus showing His Heart from traveling peddlers, catalogs, etc. I don’t know if that was the case with this guy’s family and church, but it’s a way of thinking about Jesus that often speaks to people. (And most of those litany titles, and the Sacred Heart, are Biblical concepts if you dig enough.)

  4. Sylvie D. Rousseau says:

    My daughter asked me twice to enthrone the Sacred Heart in my house and go back to the devotion I had when I came back to the faith. I think I now understand why. The devotion to the Sacred Heart balances the often over-intellectual theological thought in reminding us a love beyond any imagining. It also balances the contrary tendency of pietists, or quietists, or over-sentimental feel-good Christians by reminding us how this Love went to extreme self-sacrifice to win for us a terrible war. A war that is still raging and will be to the end of times, because men would not open their hearts and let Him win us every battle within and without.

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