Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy Feast Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul

As I've mentioned before, "the road to Damascus" is one of my favourite phrases in the whole world. It's up there with "softly falling snow", "the cold light of day", "down Memory Lane", and other phrases in which I can lose myself.

I'm also very interested in conversion. Some years ago an editor from a publishing house contacted me, suggesting we work on a book proposal for his editorial board. He was particularly taken with this post, on my idea of a man, and suggested fleshing it out to book length.

I didn't like that idea. In my work in a university library, I've recently found myself handling a lot of books about masculinity, and (even worse) "masculinities". They're the new thing, and they make me cringe a little. (The men's conference I posted about recently was my little joke. I think I underplayed the joke as everybody seems to have taken me seriousy.) A blog post about masculinity is one thing. A whole book is a horrible thought. Feminism and women's studies are bad enough. Masculinism and men's studies are to be strenuously resisted! (Which is no criticism of those groups which exist to counter man-bashing in the media, universities and legal system.)

Anyway, that's all a digression. I suggested to him instead that we submit a proposal for a book on conversion, and I did a huge amount of work on the proposal. But, alas, they didn't think it would sell. (Maybe better, in the long run. This was a 'progressive' Catholic publisher, which would have been quite a mismatch.)

There is something mysterious about conversion, even when it comes to secular matters. The image of St. Paul dazzled by the light is an appropriate one. There always seems something irreducible about any conversion, something that can't be covered by any explanation, something that even the convert can't fully understand or articulate. One day, perhaps, I will write that book. In the meantime, I pray to St. Paul for many more conversions!


  1. I thought the MENS conference was genuine; I've heard of much more cringe-worthy events taking place. In recent years I've come to think of the feast of the Conversion of St Paul as The conversion of St Paul and Ananias. I find it remarkable that the man (Ananias)could,on one hand, believe that God was speaking to him, but on the other, disbelieve that God knew what He was saying. "but, but I've heard all about this man....." Sometimes we do have to let go, salvation is not up to us.

    1. Indeed, I often wonder the same thing about the disciples throughout the Gospels. Why do they continue to doubt Jesus when he has performed so many miracles? Sometimes I've wondered why believing or not believing can be judged as a virtuous or culpable thing, and I think this phenomenon might suggest an answer.

    2. Human nature? Reading "The True Story of Fatima" the same thing happened there too. Lucia´s family seems doubtful even AFTER several parts of the miracle has happened, i.e. before the last of the apparitions.