news that Unequally Yoked - the self-described "geeky atheist" blogger - is to become a Roman Catholic has provoked (for quite obviously different reasons) significant commentary in the atheist and Roman Catholic blogospheres.
It is humbling to read Unequally Yoked's last posting on the Patheos Atheist Portal:
I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth.
For those of us who had thrown out Lewis' Mere Christianity as hopelessly rationalistic, it might be time to demonstrate a little humility and dust down our old copies. There is a Lewis-like quality to this confession and, perhaps, a reminder that questions about how the universe is 'hard-wired' may have a much greater significance to contemporary evangelisation than perhaps some of us have recognised.
The role played by Macintyre's virtue ethics in Unequally Yoked's conversion - "I kept running into moral philosophers who seemed really helpful, until I discovered that their study of virtue ethics has led them to take a tumble into the Tiber" - is also suggestive of the pressing need for the Church to encourage that tradition of moral reflection which provides a compelling account of the moral life.
At the end of it all - or, more accurately, at the beginning - there is the practice of prayer:
I asked my friend what he suggest we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together ... I’ve been using the Liturgy of the Hours and St. Patrick’s Breastplate for most of my prayer attempts.
It is a glorious reminder that the daily offices are not just for the ordained or those in cathedral communities: they provide that immersion in the rhythms of the Psalms, in the ordered reading of Scripture, and the celebration of the liturgical year, that shapes us all in the mind of Christ.
We cannot, obviously, suggest an approach to evangelisation based solely on the conversion of a "virtue ethicist atheist whose transhumanism seems to be rooted in dualism" - something of a rare demographic. But certain themes do emerge that can give us pause for reflection, themes that have a place in the new evangelisation. Maintaining a loving, respectful, intellectually coherent engagement with atheism (as ++Rowan has done) is perhaps the most obvious point to emerge from this particular conversion. And then having close at hand that book containing the daily offices, for when an atheist friend asks 'what now?'
It seems appropriate to end this post with the words of St Augustine:
You have called,
you have cried,
and you have pierced my deafness.
You have radiated forth,
you have shined out brightly,
and you have dispelled my blindness.
You have sent forth your fragrance,
and I have breathed it in,
and I long for you.
I have tasted you,
and I hunger and thirst for you.