Inner Conversion vs. Outer Force

Catholic and Enjoying It! | 9/18/2018 | Staff
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If you are looking for a good film to watch, may I recommend Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce, the English Evangelical who did, almost by sheer force of character alone, what it would take all the slaughter of our Civil War to achieve: the destruction of the English slave trade.

I am fascinated with these sorts of stories of real moral revolutions in human history. Some evil that was hitherto excused or acceptable simply becomes unbearable. People who could formerly turn a blind eye to something simply cannot live with the accusation of their conscience about it another second and they, miracle of miracles, repent. Really repent. Not some theoretical thing. Nor some merely notional gesture, as when a French Protestant became Catholic so that he could claim the throne saying, “Paris is worth a Mass” but real repentance when your guts tell you, “As God is my witness I will never permit this again!”

Kinds - Moments - History - Monks - Roman

It’s these kinds of moments of moral turning that really drive so much of human history. Like the Christian monks who ran into the Roman arena shouting at the mob, “FOR GOD’S SAKE! FOREBEAR!” They literally shamed Rome into abandoning a popular custom of blood sport that had dominated their culture for centuries. It would be like a bunch Quakers going on TV and simply, through force of character, successfully pleading for Americans to popularly sponsor the repeal of the second amendment or the abolition of football.

Speaking of Quakers, William Penn was, like all gentlemen of time, given to wearing a sword for fashion. But Quakers refused to because they are pacifist. He agonized about the question and went to George Fox in hopes of him binding him with a command that would make him give up his sword. He wanted an external force to...
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