The media interest in atheist convert to catholic Christianity, Leah Libresco, continues. While there are some worrying aspects to this (not the least of which is the pressure it puts upon her during her RCIA process), it is interesting to read her perspective on the dynamics of her own ongoing conversion.
Two things struck catholicity and covenant about her answers in this interview. The first is the presence (again) of C.S. Lewis. The Creedal Christian has recently picked up on Fr. Robert Barron's reference to the apologetic value of Lewis' view of hell. What is interesting is how Lewis' imagination rather than his reason is proving to have a more enduring apologetic significance. Hence Libresco:
Beyond philosophy, some books, especially The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce were pretty good at catching me out in my moral failings, including some I hadn’t thought of as weaknesses. These books were a pretty good counterpoint to the more abstract moral philosophy I was reading.
These two works ask profound questions that touch the heart and imagination in a way which, perhaps, the more rationalistic Mere Christianity does not. The Screwtape Letters ask if I, with Screwtape, am unable to believe the scandalous idea that fleshly human beings are actually capable of being in communion with the Creator. The Great Divorce asks me 'Who/what do I love?', because it is my love/s which orient my life - now and in eternity.
Secondly, Libresco's description of the importance of space being given for those in the process of conversion to question is noteworthy. I read it shortly after reading Anglican Down Under's posting 'The Open Church and Its Enemies'. Not being a Karl Popper fan and also somewhat anxious that the Anglican experience of being 'open church' results in, well, TEC, I was unsure of the wisdom of his terminology. But reading Libresco is a reminder of exactly how 'open church' should work - giving us space to explore the Tradition, to be amazed at it and to grow in wisdom through it:
Catholicism does a pretty good job of creating a forum for debate without getting so loosey-goosey that everyone is essentially functioning as a prophet ... Not all of the Church’s moral teachings make sense to me, and, when I ask questions, it’s much preferable to have people point me towards explanations than to accuse me of distrusting the Church or trying to sneak in as a heretic.
Truth, as Benedict XVI is fond of saying (following Balthasar), is symphonic. The beauty and coherence of the Church's proclamation should mean that we say to inquirers and seekers "come and see", rather than "you must". (I'll pass over the obvious question re: Anglicanism being "so loosey-goosey".)
The apologetics of the imagination, and a Church that is open precisely because it affirms the beauty and coherence of Christocentric faith: food for thought in considering the shape and content of evangelisation in post-Christian societies.