For years, the Catholic Television Network (EWTN) has had a show called The Journey Home. My parents used to watch this show when I was a child, for the few years that we had a dish before we tore the roof off the house. To the best of my recollection, the purpose of the show is to display how Catholicism is an awesome religion because so many people convert to it. When I found out that all the episodes are available online, I decided to watch them and review them. It’s undeniable that people convert to Catholicism; my question is, do they have good reasons? How many of them started as some form of Christian in the first place? How many came from other religions? How many were atheists or skeptics? Why did they convert, and would the answer to that question be a convincing reason for a skeptic?
If you decide to watch these episodes with me, you may notice that I ignore a lot of things I could respond to. The target audience is Catholics, and this is clear from the very first minute that Marcus Grodi begins speaking. These stories aren’t necessarily meant to convince a skeptic, but to strengthen the faith of a Catholic, or possibly convince a non-Catholic Christian to convert, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’d like to see if this collection of conversion stories contains any compelling reasons for a skeptic to convert.
The eighth episode is titled “Colin Donovan: A Life-long Catholic – The Journey Home Program” and aired October 24, 1997. It can be viewed online here.
This episode is not even a conversion story, but a discussion with (as indicated by the title) a life long Catholic on the closely related subjects of Purgatory and indulgences.
I’m not interested in defending or explaining Church teaching (you can watch the episode if you want to know what the Catholic Church says on the issue). However, I do want to say that Purgatory as a doctrine makes sense to me. I do not mean, of course, that I think it is in any sense true, only that it makes more sense within Christianity to have Purgatory than not. Otherwise, you have an allegedly loving god condemning people to eternal torture for admittedly minor offenses. Catholicism seems to be one of the few forms of Christianity that recognizes that not every sin is as bad as any other, which any sane person should see as obvious. Naturally, one in my position could argue (and I’m sure at some point I will argue) that sending anyone to eternal torment is immoral, but the Catholic Church does not teach that any soul necessarily is there, only that they could be. To me, this makes the Catholic view of the afterlife the most moral of all Christian sects.
I’m still going to Hell according to Catholicism, but at least my boyfriend has a chance.
So far, our breakdown of the guests’ religious state before conversion to Catholicism looks like this.
- Serious Christian: 6
- Always Catholic: 1
- Lax Christian: 0
- Non-Christian, but religious: 1
- Non-believer, but not very skeptical: 0
- Skeptic: 0