Total Conversion

Vox Day looked up somewheres online and found my conversion story. Here it is:

For those of you who are interested in hearing the same story told impromptu, without notes, and curious about what my voice sounds like, here is a podcast of a radio program where I was interviewed on my conversion experience:

For those of you who read my words in this space, and somehow imagine a ranting, driving, bellowing voice of startling anger and grinding seriousness, rest assured that is not what I sound like. Frankly, to me, I sound pompous and ridiculous and ridiculously amused at myself. I am not laughing with me, I am laughing at me. I cannot possibly take myself seriously, and I am always shocked and confused when others do so. So if you do listen, pay no attention to me. Pay attention to Him of whom I speak.

ADDED LATER: Whoa. There was one topic I had forgotten: I should have remembered that there was a moment when I spoke of the doctor who wanted to murder my son. Yes, friend, there I am angry, and deeply angry, and still angry. A man who is not angry when someone tries to kill his children is not a man.


  1. Comment by meunke:

    Wait…. you don’t sound like a Dalek at all!! *disappointed*

  2. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    Is it too late to get your conversion story put in the “transhumanism etc” book? I really think it should be in there.

    EDIT: and if it’s any comfort, I never took you seriously ;)

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      That is a comfort. Maybe I can talk Mr Vox Day into publishing another volume of nonfiction articles.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        Well if your first book sells well enough, I doubt he’ll argue about a 2nd. ;)

        Oh wait…
        It is a little frustrating to be publishing his excellent book of essays, the forthcoming TRANSHUMAN AND SUBHUMAN, because not a week goes by that he doesn’t produce another new essay that fairly screams for inclusion in it.

        Needless to say, there will be a sequel if Mr. Wright is so inclined.

        Should your fans start hunting down another pick of essays? (I would have said “both of them” but I think we can no longer pretend that only your mom & I read your stuff*)

        Whoa. There was one topic I had forgotten: I should have remembered that there was a moment when I spoke of the doctor who wanted to murder my son. Yes, friend, there I am angry, and deeply angry, and still angry. A man who is not angry when someone tries to kill his children is not a man.

        If we ever have the occasion to share a drink (of something non alcoholic) I’ll have to share with you something sometime since you might be one of the few that could understand.

  3. Comment by Rainforest Giant:

    I always imaged you sounding like Edmund Gwenn from ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, or Alec Guinness.

  4. Comment by Tom:


    You’ve got a similar, though more extreme, story to my own. I was raised Christian, but proclaiming myself an atheist by mid to late high school. I met my brilliant and hot wife and started to actually think through what I believed. It was a slower realization of the full Truth of the situation as I read people like RC Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, and of course C.S. Lewis. I’ve never had a vision, though I did have one dream with what I was pretty sure were real angels. My wife has dreams very often though. A previous run in with a Rastafarian creeper has left her suspicious of dreams. I guess they can be used as weapons by the Enemy as well as boons by our Lord.

    I wonder if it is true for you as it is for me. I find it both easier and much more difficult to read/communicate with atheist who think like I used to think.

    A completely separate question that you can edit out of this comment if you want: I noticed that two passages from two of the stories were identical in “Awake in Night Land.” It was the passage with the abhumans hunting and then encountering the hero at the top of a cliff. Was that an intentional repeat or a happenstance of two separate stories created at two completely different times and two different outlets? I was trying to compare the two and see if it was meant to illustrate something about the cyclical nature of the reincarnation, but I abandoned that in order to finish the rest of the book. A terrific read by the way. Very thought provoking. I’m going to go leave a nice positive review on Amazon saying as much.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I understand rightwing atheists perfectly well, that is, people who disbelieve in God because they see no evidence for God. Leftwing atheist who disbelieve in God because they hate God, them I never understood, even back when I was an atheist. The rational men, theist or atheist, are natural allies against the irrational men, irrational atheists and irrational theists both.

      As for the story, I am pretty sure that duplicated line was a mistake. If you can tell me where it is, maybe I can get the publisher to correct it. That is one advantage of electronic editing.

      I am pretty sure all the thought provoking parts of the Night Land stories were made up by Hodgson.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        I understand rightwing atheists perfectly well, that is, people who disbelieve in God because they see no evidence for God. Leftwing atheist who disbelieve in God because they hate God, them I never understood, even back when I was an atheist. The rational men, theist or atheist, are natural allies against the irrational men, irrational atheists and irrational theists both.

        Yeah, I’m still completely baffled by the use of “breeder” as an INSULT to people when used by people who are atheist (although i can’t be sure, they exhibit all the signs). By definition from both Darwin & Dawkins, “breeding” is the only purpose to life, the highest purpose.

        It’s rather like watching olympians taunt someone with the phrase “goldee” (meaning they win a lot of gold medals) or maybe catholics taunting each other with “sainty”.

        And before you say it, no, it’s quite clear these people are never using it sarcastically as you’ll see it used towards people with offspring (the larger the family, the more bitter the “slur”).

        It’s the most baffling, irrational exhibit I’ve seen of late. Which would be fine if they didn’t then turn around and try to argue passionately how rational they are.

        • Comment by takashi_kurita:

          Do people actually say this, in real life? I’ve lived in a college down with a pretty crazy music scene, who some have compared to being a smaller version of Portland, and I have never heard anyone call somebody else a “breeder”.

          • Comment by Nate Winchester:

            You may be lucky then, or maybe it’s one of those oddities that manifests on the internet but not in real life. You don’t have to go far in certain “zones” to come across it or to find the sentiment expressed in another way. (will refrain from linking unless our host wants to allow it)

            Then again, what opportunities have you run across for the slur to be used? Colleges aren’t usually known as places with children and families milling about (except for sporting events).

          • Comment by Foxfier:

            Yes, They Do.

            -Mother of three in the Seattle Blob

            PS, that’s why I try to shop at the base exchange these days

            It’s mostly a face to face thing, when someone with no children runs into someone with two or more children who seems to be happy. I theorize it’s motivated by denial of a pain.

            • Comment by Nate Winchester:

              Sounds like there’s some stories you should tell sometime, Foxfier. Blog it so we can read it!

              Yeah I can see some of the motivation, but I can’t see their choice of insult especially in light of what they claim to be their philosophy. It’s really surreal.

              • Comment by Foxfier:

                Like Mary C. points out, the folks most loudly believing in evolution are least likely to live like they do…..

              • Comment by Foxfier:

                Blog it so we can read it!

                Sadly, that IS most of it– little sprite running next to my cart (in arm’s reach), little red-haired angle in the cart, pregnant belly, rude people; now two little girls running circuits of the cart, baby boy in the seat flirting with anything that moves, rude people.

                In contrast, going to the commissary takes twice as long because a large supply of ladies with thick accents stop to coo or chat, even if the girls are running ahead in empty isles.

      • Comment by BigFire:

        I would be described by anyone who knows me as conservative, yet I’m at best agnostic. Religion have never been a major part of my life. I’ll be a poor Buddhist if I have to choose one, since that’s the one I’m brought up on.

        I’m not religious, but found leftist’s religious intolerance intolerable.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Christ commands us to be not just tolerant, but to love our enemies. But back when I was an atheist, I was loyal to certain ideas of enlightened self interest, stoic disregard of pain and worldly trifles, and Southern notions of honor and courtesy. But there was nothing in my doctrines then which proposed a good reason to be tolerable.

          And yet, even back then, the Leftist hated me and would not tolerate me, because I did not believe in environmentalism (enlightened self interest dictates I care for the environment only in so far as it serves my long-term best interest. Why should I care if some unsightly species, useless to mankind, which niche can be filled by another beast, goes extinct?) I did not believe in homosex or hedonism (stoicism teached self control rather than self indulgence, and not to blame your genes for your flaws) and I did not believe in the foul-mouthed foul-minded sneaky, vile, backstabbing cowardice of the Left was wise or admirable (they include no gentlemen in their numbers.)

          What I am trying to say is that, even back then, the Christians were the allies of the rational atheists against the forces of Mordor. We will defend your constitutional right to mock Christ and belittle us. THEY harass and persecute you, even if you are a card-carrying member in good standing of the Left, if you make one wrong move or say one wrong word. Brandon Eich is not a conservative, neither is Larry Summers. For that matter, Bob Heinlein was nothing like a conservative, and did more to mock monogamy and monotheism among my peers than anyone I know: but the Left spits on his memory.

          You and I are allies. The messiah I worship is called Logos, a Greek word that means logic, reason, account, or word. The foe is Unreason.

    • Comment by lampwright:

      My guess, though John will have to confirm, is that this was the passage that was originally in Awake In The Night, which he had to cut most of and put into a second story. Sounds like one part didn’t get cut.

      But I could be wrong. ;-)

  5. Comment by distractedbrony:

    Thank you for linking this. I’ve read your conversion story before, but it was nice to hear it from you in your own words and in your own voice.

    One of my least favorite things about the internet is the psychological effect it often has of keeping people from interacting with one another as fellow humans. So to see any little surviving germ of humanity in the artificial, electronically sterilized environment of blogspace fills me with happiness and hope.

  6. Comment by jebdisciple:

    Just curious as to what led you to embrace the Catholic Church as opposed to another denomination/flavor of Christianity. From what you wrote in the testimony, it seemed like your wife was not Catholic. As a heathen Protestant (and a pastor and Chaplain in the National Guard at that), I just wonder what your thought process was.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I think like a lawyer. I was attracted to the Catholic Church for the exact same thing that repels the people repelled by her: her legalism, her insisting on logic rather than emotion, her age and priority, her authority.

      Because the one thing, the main thing, that lead me to doubt that my atheism was correct was that logic forced me to conclude that contraception was a grave moral evil. This requires no faith to see the truth of it, merely human reasoning and a modicum of common sense. And that was a deal-breaker for me. I could not in good conscience enter a denomination that taught contraception was permissible, but which before 1930 taught the opposite. Please forgive me, but a change on a point like that does not seem like a community guided by an eternal spirit from heaven, but by a changing spirit of the world.

      And the more I looked into the Catholic Church, the more I found her teachings were not what anyone, Protestant or Atheist, said they were. No offense meant, but the spokesmen I met for your side shot themselves in the foot by telling things about the Church, especially the Early Church, independent research confirmed later were simply not true.

      But the reverse was not the case: what the Catholics said the Protestants taught was indeed what the Protestants also said Protestants taught.

      What the Protestants told me the Catholics believed were, without exception — and I am not exaggerating — without exception, either a gross simplification of the real Catholic teaching, or unrelated to it, or a naked falsehood. I could look up the catechism for myself, and see what the Catholics taught their followers. I could read the Early Church Fathers, and I did.

      Now, I admit, it may have been merely my bad luck to have fallen in with particularly eloquent and subtle Catholics and particularly dull and clumsy Protestants, but maybe not: I have also read Luther and Calvin, and the Book of Mormon and the Alcoran of Mohammet, and I cannot see any big difference between this kind of breakaway from mainstream Catholic thought, and the Gnostic, Arians, Albigensians, Collyridians, Nestorian, or other groups that would not accept a peaceful resolution by means of a General Council, Synod, or the other method we have used since time immemorial to assuage theological differences.

      I have also read a fair amount of history, and the corruption which allegedly removes authority from the Catholic Church to define doctrine does not seem to be present. And even if it were present, the correction would be a General Council, not a rebellion.

      I do not see a logical reason to reject the authority of the Council of Trent to decide the issue of Transubstantiation, while at the same time accepting the authority of the Council of Nicaea or Ephesus to define the Incarnation or the doctrine of the Trinity. I do not see a way to say the Bible has final authority to define Christian teaching, but to say that the Church which wrote, edited, protected, promulgated, defined and canonized the Bible lacks that same authority.

      The Queen is either the true queen or she is not: if she is not, then no writing from her hand has the force of royal authority; if she is, then her word is law, even if you or I think we should be allowed to interpret the meaning of her written orders but not she is not allowed. Protestantism is a paradox, like a Supreme Court Justice declaring Article III of the the Constitution of the United States unconstitutional. For if that Article is unconstitutional, then he is not a Supreme Court Justice. Likewise here: if the Church is not the Church, then her scriptures are not scriptural.

      But we are still brothers, and we have common enemies who are bent on our destruction. No sign or supernatural revelation led me here. I may be mistaken, and I condemn no man whose experience or logic led him to serve God in his own way, if he truly serves. I suspect heaven is more ecumenical that we mortals imagine.

      I suspect Saint Peter will ask me if I fed the poor and cared for the sick rather than to define the doctrine of Sola Fides versus Transubstantiation, or comment on the Filioque controversy.

      • Comment by Foxfier:

        In fairness, dear Host, some of those things that Protestants told you were true about the Church which turned out not to be– they may have been told by members of the Church. (even church ladies that go every week and are incredibly nice)

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        But the reverse was not the case: what the Catholics said the Protestants taught was indeed what the Protestants also said Protestants taught.

        What the Protestants told me the Catholics believed were, without exception — and I am not exaggerating — without exception, either a gross simplification of the real Catholic teaching, or unrelated to it, or a naked falsehood. I could look up the catechism for myself, and see what the Catholics taught their followers. I could read the Early Church Fathers, and I did.

        I chuckle in good nature since I’ve often encountered the reverse and found often Catholic descriptions of Protestants to be off. Then again, there are so many denominations of us I don’t hold it against them as even I couldn’t tell you all the differences with many branches.

        But we are still brothers, and we have common enemies who are bent on our destruction. No sign or supernatural revelation led me here. I may be mistaken, and I condemn no man whose experience or logic led him to serve God in his own way, if he truly serves. I suspect heaven is more ecumenical that we mortals imagine.

        So very much word on this and I wish I could beat it into the heads of every Catholic and Protestant that wants to fight. Do you (in the general, not ‘you, John’) think the enemy cares one whit about the details of our doctrine? Do you think they’ll knock at the door and then turn aside when they see you venerate Mary? Or fail to? God is not the one pleased when we fight amongst ourselves.

        We would all do well to remember Romans 14 and that we all work for the same Boss. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”

  7. Comment by CanedCrusader:

    Mr. Wright,

    A compelling and moving account. I, being raised an evangelical, do not have such a dramtic conversion story. I do have accounts I could share of being given glimpses of the immensity and glory of Christ; lacking sight, these were not so much visions as nearly indescribable impressions. Your story reminded me of them; I have not had such a direct, undeniable experience in quite some time. But the day to day knowledge of God’s existence is still there.

    Incidentally, I wasn’t aware panentheistic idealism was compatible with Roman Catholic thoughts on materiality and creation. Would you care to elaborate on this or, barring that, point me to some good resources beyond Berkely (whom I need to read soon in any case)?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Alas, I suspect panentheistic idealism is not compatible with Roman Catholic thoughts. But I am not sure if I qualify as a panentheist even if I sometimes sound like one.

      Rather, as an recent ex-atheist, at the time I chose those words, I was trying to put into word using the words I knew an experience that cannot be put into words. I said all thoughts are like thoughts in one mind, and that is clearly panentheism, taking literally. But if I also said, God is in us, and with us, and through us, and we move and live in Him, and in Him we have our being, that sounds entirely orthodox. And yet, as far as my weak net woven of words can catch the fish of the spirit, tome it seems I would have said the same thing, merely in two different metaphors.

      The idealism of Berkley offers me a similar problem. If I had just been reading CS Lewis instead of reading philosophy when I selected my words, I might have said it differently, and said that everything made of the clouds of near-emptiness we call atoms was flimsy, impressionistic, painting on mist, and the spirit was solid as adamantine diamond, hard and unbreakable. I could not even bend a blade of grass in heaven with all my weight.

      Matter is made of logos, God’s word, for He spoke it into being on the Second or Third Day of Creation. Mind is also made of logos, reason, God’s word, for He breathed a living soul into man and made man immortal. Seen in that way, the two are the same substance. It is more like one is the outside visible form, and one is the inside essence. Again, I apologize for being unclear. I used to think I was a smart man, but these matter are beyond my comprehension.

  8. Comment by Malcolm Smith:

    You’ll be interested to know that I included your conversion experience in my own post about Damascus Road conversions. I trust you will correct me if I made any mistake in the details. The reason I made it the first on the list is that it was the least dramatic of all the seven experiences.

  9. Comment by Aaron:

    Hey John, I saw these comments on a website of your conversion would you mind responding to them, they seem like the “dishonest atheists” you speak about.

    To the moderators: This is the worst article, by far, currently on Strange Notions. It has almost no worthwhile content, only insults, name-calling and lavish self-adulation. It flagrantly falls afoul of the commenting guidelines. If you allow it to stay up unmodified, then this article constitutes sufficient evidence that the moderators have no intention to treat atheist readers with respect, and no intention to hold Catholic writers to the same standards as you have proposed for the atheist readers.

    Now to the content, such as it is:

    > Rest assured, I take the logical process of philosophy very seriously…

    Ha. No. Give us some evidence.

    > To my surprise and alarm, I found that, step by step, logic drove me to conclusions no modern philosophy shared, but only this ancient and (as I saw it then) corrupt and superstitious foolery called the Church.

    Give examples we can learn from or think about, please, not just self-praise.

    > The public conduct of my fellow atheists was so lacking in sobriety and gravity that I began to wonder why, if we atheists had a hammerlock on truth, so much of what we said was pointless or naive.

    This is only evidence if atheists have a lower rate of sobriety and gravity, or a higher rate of pointless or naive sayings, than theists. Your anecdotal observations are very weak evidence of whether that is true. Even if it were true, it’s not at all obvious that it would then be evidence in favor of theism. By all appearances, it’s just an insult.

    > I would listen to my fellow atheists, and they would sound as innocent of any notion of what real human life was like as the Man from Mars who has never met human beings or even heard clear rumors of them. Then I would read something written by Christian men of letters, Tolkien, Lewis, or G.K. Chesterton, and see a solid understanding of the joys and woes of human life. They were mature men.

    Yes, we’ve gathered that you like casting generic team-based insults and praise. Give us some evidence that what you say is a real effect, and then if it is, some reason to think it supports your conclusion rather than just being obvious ad hominem fallacy.

    > I would look at the rigorous logic of St. Thomas Aquinas, the complexity and thoroughness of his reasoning, and compare that to the scattered and mentally incoherent sentimentality of some poseur like Nietzsche or Sartre. [I’ll skip the shrill psychological flatulence that is the rest of the paragraph.]

    If you had tried to compare St. Thomas Aquinas’ “rigorous logic” with, you know, actual modern logic, it would be hard not to notice that his proofs fail because they involve large numbers of unstated premises. It may have helped if you consulted atheist experts on skepticism and rationality, instead of the quasi-poetry of continental philosophers. Note that your appeal here to weakly reasoned writings of atheist is simply a form of straw man fallacy.

    > My philosophy at the time excluded the contemplation of the supernatural axiomatically: by definition (my definition) even the word “super-natural” was a contradiction in terms. Logic then said that, if my conclusions were definitional, they were circular.

    If your conclusions were derived from your axioms and were not themselves axioms, then they were not circular. But regardless, I agree that conclusions about what is real and unreal should not be settled by the axioms. They should be settled by the methods of plausible reasoning, using priors that do not set any conclusion out of evidential reach.

    > But it was impossible, logically impossible, that I should ever believe in such nonsense as to believe in the supernatural.

    When you determined this, you should have revisted your axioms and converted them to beliefs with levels of confidence proportionate to the evidence.

    > I had a heart attack two days later. God obviously has a sense of humor as well as a sense of timing.

    That it’s “obvious” is flatly untrue. What was the expected rate for someone in your physical condition having a heart attack or other significant life event in a time period short enough that it might seem relevant to your prayer? What was the expected rate for God to give heart attacks to someone in your spiritual condition? For the evidence to be “obvious”, the latter would have to be much higher than the former. I’m inclined to think the latter is much lower than the former, and so, even ignoring Occam’s razor issues, the heart attack would count as evidence against God’s involvement.

    > My wife read a passage from their writings, and the pain vanished. If this was a coincidence, then, by God, I could use more coincidences like that in my life.

    It could be coincidental timing, especially since the pain from heart attacks is short-lived. Psychosomatic effects were also involved, including attention on the readings distracting you from the pain, your wife calming and comforting you, and suggestion — all of which are real effects. If the coincidence is evidence for something supernatural, then it’s nevertheless weak evidence.

    > Those were the happiest days of my life. A sense of peace and confidence … I grew aware of a spiritual dimension of reality of which I had hitherto been unaware. … I received three visions like Scrooge being visited by three ghosts … I had a religious experience … I became aware of the origin of all thought, the underlying oneness of the universe, the nature of time: the paradox of determinism and free will was resolved for me. I saw and experienced part of the workings of a mind infinitely superior to mine … The illusionary nature of pain, and the logical impossibility of death, were part of the things I was shown

    So, a middle-aged man having deep philosophical angst, somewhat isolated from his wife by his opinions, laid low with life-threatening health problems, given plenty of time and rest for reflection, taken care of by countless staff 24/7, had a completely standard mystical experience, such as could replicated by pretty much anyone with a few cents’ worth of LSD. Which is likelier: that the extreme stresses that often produce such effects in the brain did so again here, or that God gave the self-adoring Wright lots of personal attention in ways he doesn’t give to healthy people?

    > I was not drugged or semiconscious, I was perfectly alert and in my right wits. … I know someone who suffers from hallucinations, and I know the signs. Those signs were not present here.

    These claims are of no merit unless someone else was present, has no social pressure to affirm your one-on-one-time with God, and can affirm that you were alert and not hallucinating. The reason is too obvious: if you’re drugged or semiconscious or hallucinating, it’s other people that notice the signs, not you. Introspection is extremely unreliable.

    > If you are familiar with such things, I follow the panentheist idealism of Bishop Berkeley

    Oh, nice. I quite like Berkeley’s idealism, though obviously I don’t find the additional complexity of panentheism to add anything explanatorily useful; a panprotopsychist account does just as well and is simpler. But I don’t “follow” it so much as attempt to hold it with confidence proportional to the evidence, and consider its explanatory power as somewhat higher than the alternatives.

    > I found that prayer could banish pain in moments … From that time to this, I have had prayers answered and seen miracles: each individually could be explained away as a coincidence by a skeptic, but not taken as a whole.

    You should have documented the cases, then, as well as the unanswered prayers. It’s clear from the overall article that no one should accept your experiential claims at face value.

    > I would also have to assume all the great thinkers of history were fools. While I was perfectly content to support this belief back in my atheist days, this is a flattering conceit difficult to maintain seriously.

    This is wrong on two counts. First, the great thinkers of past history worked with what they knew then, not what we know now. We know more now. Second, due to differences in the availability of education, most great thinkers of history are alive today, and they are majority atheists, and you do seem to be counting them as fools.

    > On a pragmatic level, I am somewhat more useful to my fellow man than before, and certainly more charitable.

    If the insults that are so much of this article are “more charitable”, then I’m glad we aren’t subjected to the old you.

    > Besides, the atheist non-god is not going to send me to non-hell for my lapse of non-faith if it should turn out that I am mistaken.

    No, but you might unnecessarily waste your life on falsehoods, which many people think is contrary to the good life. And you might saddle doubting believers who would otherwise leave the Church with unnecessary years of religious guilt. And you might write an article full of insults toward atheists, and in general support the parts of our culture that would deny justice to atheists.

    P.S Thank You

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Yes, I would mind very much responding to them. A man who cannot tell the difference between a statement, “A logical argument convinced me of thus and so” and a statement “Here is the logical argument which convinced me of thus and so” is not making an honest mistake.

      One does not argue with hecklers. So far, no atheist has come here to argue with me. Not once. Not ever. No one has brought up the Problem of Pain, or the paradox of how an omnipotent being could have desires and actions, or the argument that nature is sufficient to explain all phenomena, nothing. All I ever overhear are panicky insults, which sound like they come from men ridden with guilt.

      I could do a better job of arguing the atheist side than could any of them. They are amateurs. I am a pro.

  10. Comment by Chris McCullough:

    I’ve heard you speak from videos before, and I know you don’t have one, but for some reason I keep coming back to reading your articles in an English accent.

  11. Comment by cjf_moraga:

    Thank you for posting this interview. There are certainly parallels with my own conversion as a once aethist that resonated powerfully with me. This is especially as I was confirmed and took my first communion this Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

    I read the Golden Age when first published and I suspect that if then I had been told I would join the Catholic Church I would probably have burst out laughing. I did indeed do so this Easter but it was in joy not mockery! Reading your blog throughout my RCIA process this past year has been quite influential on my thinking. Thank you!

  12. Comment by Malcolm Smith:

    You’ll be interested to know that I included your conversion experience in my own post about Damascus Road conversions. I trust you will correct me if I made any mistake in the details. The reason I made it the first on the list is that it was the least dramatic of all the seven experiences.
    The link is at .

  13. Comment by takashi_kurita:

    Still a moving story, as it was when I first read it many years ago.

    However, I would like to point something out about Vox Day, who you’ve referenced several times recently in posts. You are aware that he’s written things like this before, correct?


    “They mock the secessionist petitioners in Texas and other states, celebrate the infestation of even the smallest American heartland towns by African, Asian and Aztec cultures,”

    And also this:

    Excerpt: “those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.”

    He refers to a fellow sci-fi author of a different race as a “half-savage”, and refers to people from foreign lands as an “infestation”

    Yet, here is what the Scripture says, from Galatians 3:

    Galatians 3:26 – 28
    26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

    27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    In other words, we are exhorted to see each other as children of god, and that all differences of culture or ethnicity (“Jew nor Greek”) or social status (“bond nor free”) or sex (“male nor female”) should be looked past, because we are all one in Christ, and should treat everyone as brothers and sisters, not as foreigners or slaves or whatever other earthly, man-made excuses exist.

    Another exhortation to on how to treat foreigners:
    Leviticus 19:34
    34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

    We are to treat foreigners as if they were our own sons. For just as the Lord’s people were strangers and outcasts in Egypt, yet he showed them mercy, so to must we show the stranger and the outcast mercy.

    Mercy is not proposing the formation of all-white secessionist communities, or calling them savages, or an infestation. Any man who speaks this way, the love of Christ is not in him.

    I’m bringing this to your attention since you often refer to Christ as being the centerpoint of your life and all your do and write, so I assumed that you must not simply be aware of it.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Sorry, what was your point, again, exactly? You were concerned for my wellbeing, and so you wanted to make sure I did not have any dealings with a sinful man?

      Interesting. Riddle me this: What makes a racist less of a sinner than a gossip?

      The Bible says that before you accuse your brother in public, talk to him privately first. Have you done that?

      • Comment by takashi_kurita:

        It’s not gossip if the things are all things he said and wrote, in official publications, open to the public. These are not secrets, not false witness, they are not hushed accusations whispered in the dead of night. They are his own words, unhindered, on his own blog and on the column that he is paid to write. You can click the links and look for yourself.

        For somebody who likes to talk about Christ alot, you do not seem to have read much of his words, or internalized them.

        • Comment by Nate Winchester:

          For somebody who likes to talk about Christ alot, you do not seem to have read much of his words, or internalized them.

          Which words? Ones like “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”?

          I find it funny when someone calls another “unchristian” (or not heeding Christ’s words) for the company that other keeps, when Jesus was so often criticized for the company He kept…

          EDIT: Also, one should keep in mind that the individual commands for being a Christian are not applicable at all to government action. Example: “Give to any who asks” would bankrupt a nation… well I’d give it a week if I was optimistic. And let’s not get into martyrs…

          Individuals can be Christian, they are the ones that are saved. The government cannot and never will be until the entire world is composed of saints.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          No, it is gossip if you are trying to stir up enmity against him with your words. Secrecy and lies are not part of the definition.

          These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

          As you can see, the attempt to sow discord among the brethren is a separate thing distinct from pride, lying, bloodshed, wickedness, mischief, lies. In other to be seven, sowing discord has to be its own entry on the list.

          St James also comments: Also, If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

          But you did not answer my first riddle. The answer is that a gossip is worse than racism because gossip is condemned in the Word of God, and calling people savages or calling unchecked immigration an infection is not.

          You also did not answer my question. The Bible specifically says that if you have anything against your brother, you must approach him privately first, before condemning him in public. Have you done so? If not, then you are disobeying direct instructions from Our Master, who said quite clearly that those who love Him obey His words. In that case, it is you, sir, not I, who has not — what was your word? — ‘internalized’ the teachings of Christ.

          Second riddle: what makes Phariseeism a graver sin than racism?

          For somebody who likes to talk about Christ alot, you do not seem to have read much of his words, or internalized them.

          Indeed? Do you come to this conclusion because the Lord asks us to condemn our brethren in public when they express themselves in politically incorrect language? You seem to think you are able to read the secret and inner workings of my heart like God alone can do, and able to judge me.

          Declare to me, if you have knowledge, since you read the scripture more carefully than I, where is says you will not be judged for condemning me? and for condemning Vox Day? Where does it say you will be measured by a mete entirely unrelated to the mete you use to measure others?

          Why are you trying to stir up enmity between me and Vox Day? Even if he is as guilty as Judas, why bring it to me?

          Is it out of concern for my well-being?

          How is my well-being served by your nasty tattling about him to me? Did you want me to condemn his sins and demand his reformation? Am I his father confessor?

          Are you?

          You make yourself bold to use the name of Christ to justify your aspish backbiting, and in Christ’s name you spit in my face. Let me ask you a third riddle: what makes taking the name of the Lord in vain a graver sin than racism? What makes it graver a sin than the lack of zeal you accuse me of?

          Are the riddles too difficult, sir?

          • Comment by Gigalith:

            You also did not answer my question. The Bible specifically says that if you have anything against your brother, you must approach him privately first, before condemning him in public. Have you done so? If not, then you are disobeying direct instructions from Our Master, who said quite clearly that those who love Him obey His words. In that case, it is you, sir, not I, who has not — what was your word? — ‘internalized’ the teachings of Christ.

            I realize I have not done this in the last thread. I apologize.

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      I’ve read some of Vox’s site, and as far as I can tell, he can reasonably be accused of racism exactly to the degree that he takes seriously leftist claims about race and follows them to their logical conclusions. For instance, at one point he says “If logic is ‘white privilege’, then so is civilization.” The premise is something that various leftist academics have actually argued and the conclusion is virtually inescapable from that premise. Considering this, I have to wonder how serious he is about such ideas and how much they are a strange sort of satire.

      Regardless of his intent, if you accuse Vox Day of racism, you must, to that exact same degree, accuse the race theorists of the left. The ideas he presents are only a logical extension of their own.

      • Comment by Foxfier:

        He’s a gadfly, not a racist.

        Not my style– I find him highly annoying…but that’s not an inherent flaw. I just don’t like his style of making points.

        That said, my style of honest, direct, rational argument does not reach the people who have vapors over him.

  14. Comment by Tamquam:

    I have been the occasional privileged recipient of brief glimpses of GLORY!!! when the gossamer of material creation parted or thinned for a second. The first was when I was considering suicide: the ways and means internal debate. HE plucked me out here/now and stood me before HIS Throne whilst I reviewed my life before HIM and the assembled Host. He turned to me at the end of the reel (it was that long ago) and said, “So, what do you think?” My assessment was there there was only one thing that was as hideous as I had imagined my life to be, and I must needs accept Hell for it. Just as I was beginning to be gripped with the horror of what that meant I was back in the here/now. It has, you might imagine, been a fruitful topic of meditation these nigh on forty years or so.

  15. Comment by ambvalencia:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Thanks for posting this. I read your conversion story awhile ago when Mark Shea posted a link to it, but it was nice to hear you tell it. Your speaking voice is surprisingly young sounding. I somehow imagined you would sound older, more wintry for some reason.

    Also, I was able to pick up a copy of “Count to a Trillion” up here in Canada thanks to a Christmas gift card and a well stocked bookstore. I am not much into “hard sci-fi” but I quite enjoyed the book. I liked how the story was both vast and intimate at the same time. My only complaint is that the names of the Spanish Hermeticists aren’t actually Spanish, or at least not Castillian. Unless written Spanish undergoes major morphological changes following the Jihad, it doesn’t usually use contractions. It runs all of the vowels within and across words together in speech, but whole words are always written out in full. (de is never contracted to d’ for example). I know it’s one tiny detail, but I am a hispanophile dork so I thought I would mention it.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Please forgive me for smiling, but I can take no credit for the Hermeticist names. If they do not sound authentic to you, then blame history, not me, because I did not make those names up. I merely took the names of Spanish and Portuguese, Basque and other Iberian scientists and mathematicians from history.

      Del Azarchel is a latinized version for the Ninth Century Spanish mathematician Al-Zarqali, who invented the astrolabe. Sarmento is named in honor of Raúl Arturo Chávez Sarmiento, a Peruvian math prodigy. i Illa d’Or is a place name in Islas Baleares, Spain. (Ergo the Spanish use at least some contractions). Coronimas is named for Ernest Corominas i Vigneaux. Pastor is named for Julio Rey Pastor. De Ulloa was named after Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Girault.

      I deliberately used names from different nations and races in the Latin world, and so on to confound the political correctors who, right on schedule and right as I predicted, would accuse me of not having enough ‘diversity’ among my characters. The joke here is that the Latin world is varied and diverse but the self appointed diversity hounds regard it as a single block.

      I think only one of the Hermeticists was from Spain herself. So you are correct: most of the names are not technically Spanish at all.

      • Comment by ambvalencia:

        Wow, I did not know that. Thanks for telling me. I hope you didn’t think my comment was in the spirit of Political Correctness, which I abhor as much as you do. I’ve come to the conclusion that PC is a kind of mental spider web. Like the sticky threads that the telepaths at the end of John Wyndham’s book “The Chrysalids” use to paralyse the rioters. The more you try to recuse yourself from the webs of “victim group offendedness” the more wound up and paralyzed you are. My comment was more in the spirit of keeping the story true to its own internal logic. If you’re going to set a story in New York it should be in the real New York, with New York street names and at least some sense of the ambience. If it’s in Narnia, the animals should talk. If it’s on Rigel 7, the ladies should have three breasts and green skin. This obviously you did, and way better than I thought. I never considered the fact that Spain’s languages vary so widely, I just thought “this falls on my ear wrong”. The fault lies not with the writer, but with the reader it seems.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Oh no, forgive me, I did not mean to imply that YOU were a political correction officer. I only meant to tell my secret and giggly reason for picking names each one from a different part of Spain, Portugal, and South America. And, yes, I did want the names to sound slightly ‘futuristic’ — Menelaus Montrose, for example, albeit Texan, just does not sound like a normal Texan name.

          I did the same thing selecting Hindi names in the first volume of the book. I am very glad, nay, I am delighted, that you enjoyed my humble work.

      • Comment by ambvalencia:

        Wow. I did not know that. I am humbled. I hope you didn’t think that my comment was in the spirit of Political Correctness. I abhor PC as well. I am a graduate student and I find its presence so stifling and paralysing. I am exhausted with having to preface every comment with some sort of verbal obsequy to the potential offendedness of some hallowed victim group which I have no intention of offending. PC is a mental spider web, like the sticky threads the telepaths use against the rioters in John Wyndham’s “The Chrysalids”. The more you try to extricate yourself the more entangled you become. If you show affection or solidarity for a sub-culture it’s apparently just as bad as hating them. The only thing a PC’er can do to avoid the stain of offense is tear off their skin, cast it to the ground and spit on it, and even then they’re mocked.

        Anyway my comment was more in the spirit of story continuity. I don’t like it when movies shoot the streets of Vancouver and call it New York. If your story is in New York, than the characters and setting should show that. If it’s in Narnia, the animals should talk. If it’s on Rigel 7, the space princesses should have three breasts and green skin. This you obviously did, and better than I imagined. I heard the names, and they fell on my ear “wrong”, but the fault was more with the reader than the writer.

  16. Comment by confusedatheist:

    Hello John C. Wright, I am a fan of your books. I find that I have less and less in common with fellow atheists. I feel a lot like how you did before your religious conversion. Hope you respond.

  17. Comment by Eoin Moloney:

    Mr. Wright,

    I have read you for some time, and respect your opinion, but I was hoping you could respond in more detail to the claims advanced by the commenter on Strange Notions, the one that is quoted earlier in this thread. I reproduce here a few of the choice points that the commentators seem to be making against you:

    -That you are engaging in empty praise of Catholic writers and empty scorn of atheist writers instead of meaningful criticism
    -That you “had not considered the very real possibility that you were actually hallucinating”, which, according to him “was a standard mystical experience that could be emulated by anyone with a few cents of LSD”.
    -(not from the same person, but a related comment): “if your entire motivation for ‘studying philosophy all your life’ is a fear of death, you shouldn’t be too surprised to land on an emotionally appealing mysticism that promises you continued existence after a heart attack.”
    – “I have had people recount drug-induced experiences in almost exactly the same terms. And of course you can go and find the equivalent testimonies for any religion. Or put your head under a powerful magnet. What’s lacking is that these self proclaimed bodhisattvas never can articulate the rational, compelling insights that were revealed to them.
    It’s not the experiences of Mr. Wright or others that I doubt. It’s the interpretation.”
    -Nothing in his article would preclude the events he describes from being due to chance, placebo and psychosomatic effects, and/or the part of this brain that is so good at creating fantasy getting ahead of the part that usually keeps us from fooling ourselves.
    -It is a classic bit of special pleading with extra sentiment and tearjerking self pity to boot. Since I’ve read some of Wright’s other blog posts I can assure you that if someone were to frighten him out of his new found religion and back into his old supposed logical atheism he wouldn’t become a worse person. He never altered his basic attitude towards other human beings which is contempt for them–especially for women who aren’t feminine by his standards. He simply transferred his contempt from believers to atheists. He remains, as he always was, an authoritarian personality in search of a group to oppress, and a stronger group to cling to for protection. C’est tout.
    -the distance between

    “I’m a atheist philosopher and a genius, and all you Christians are yammering fools”


    “I’m now a Christian philosopher and a genius, and all you atheists are yammering fools”

    is a pretty short distance indeed.

    I am not entirely sure about how to respond to these, but I hope and pray that you will have time to work out a reply to some of them. I apologise if this irritates you, but I would greatly enjoy reading a response, if you can give one.

    Thank you,
    Eoin Moloney

  18. Comment by Gigalith:

    I heard the voice of Jesus once. He is truly the Prince of Peace.

  19. Comment by Sylvie D. Rousseau:

    I thought that would be interesting, about resistance to truth:

    From Edward Feser’s testimony “The road from atheism”
    “But at least teaching [Aquinas’ Five Ways] was getting interesting. I recall one class period when, having done my best to try to defend some argument (the First Way, I think) against various objections, I finally stated whatever it was I thought at the time was a difficulty that hadn’t been satisfactorily answered. One of my smartest students expressed relief: She had been worried for a moment that there might be a good argument for God’s existence after all! (Anyone who thinks wishful thinking is all on the side of religious people is fooling himself.)”

  20. Comment by Foxfier:

    I should have remembered that there was a moment when I spoke of the doctor who wanted to murder my son.

    I’ve got my Princess, the Duchess and the Baron, who is nearly a year old; I still go utterly red when the subject of their murder is flown as “women’s reproductive rights.”

    No. They are human, and have been since conception– that is a basic, biological fact.

    A few relatively honest people admit as much, but still think they should have been legally able to be killed well after they were making funny kick-marks on my old, fat belly.

    There’s a reason I carry a gun. Eventually, such thought will evolve to a rational conclusion, and short, fat little hobbits of a housewife will be as much at risk as their babies.

  21. Comment by billmd:

    Mr. Wright,
    I apologize for getting to this post so late. I just listened to the radio interview and I have a question about something you said. One of the words you used to describe Mary was “sad”. Can I ask you why you felt that way, and what she was sad about?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      They killed her son who had done no wrong after a kangaroo trial where no justice was reached. And when I say ‘they’ I mean you and I.

      • Comment by billmd:

        Thanks, Mr. Wright. Indeed that is more than enough.

        I have had a … I don’t know how to describe it … a spiritual encounter in which I have felt that He has placed me in the special care of His mother, for the purpose of leading me past some obstacles that have been hindering my relationship with Him. And I am aware of a sadness in the Blessed Mother, but sadness that I have attributed to more contemporary events.

        Having said that, there is no doubt that, much like Our Lord’s own wounds which remained a part of His glorified body, the wounds to Our Lady’s heart remain there as a reminder to all of us that… well, what you said.

        Thanks again, sir, and thank you for this blog which has been a blessing to me,

  22. Comment by gunnarthalweg:

    Fascinating story. I only know your writing from your blog, and you do a great job of apologetics. You say what I’ve been trying to get at. Recently, I have been posting on an atheist blog and just getting heckled like mad, and everything I say seems to get misinterpreted to the point where I am wondering if atheists can read :) (at least at this blog, it seems not). My experience is always discounted as anecdotal or the product of cognitive biases; my arguments are described as always corrupted by logical fallacies, as if I had never heard of these fallacies.

    Meanwhile, I have been told (on a different web site) that my experience in AA was “anecdotal,” even though I have 26 years of sobriety and did the things they said and things worked the way AAers said they would. I was told that as confirmation bias, except, you know, I was convinced prayer wouldn’t work and then it did. I was then told that this was a form of confirmation bias caused by my low self-esteem, the lowness of which apparently causes confirmation bias to reverse itself and cause me to prove myself wrong since I already believe I’m wrong. I actually think there might be something to that, and it’s very clever. Problem is it’s always “heads I win/tails you lose” argumentation. If prayer works, it’s confirmation bias. If it doesn’t, it’s proof prayer is ineffective.

    Finally, when I referred to have received “signal graces” during prayer, Mass, and in particular the rosary, I was blasted for being insensitive to atheists who had sought just such experiences and ridiculed by others for mistaking gooey feelings and cognitive biases for religious experience, as if I can’t tell the difference.

    So it’s nice to come here and see a believer swat some flies. My take-home advice is “don’t argue with hecklers.”

    As far as your story, I would love to hear what the Virgin Mary told you, if you are permitted. I never heard from her, but received signal graces and a closeness with God. There are moments during the rosary where the world seems … so alive.

    Thank you, and praise God for converting you.

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