Conversion: A Spiritual Journey

[Conversion: A Spiritual Journey]
Wipf and Stock
Year of publication: 
Moral assessment: 
Type: Thought
Nothing inappropriate.
Requires prior general knowledge of the subject.
Readers with knowledgeable about the subject matter.
Contains doctrinal errors of some importance.
Whilst not being explicitly against the faith, the general approach or its main points are ambiguous or opposed to the Church’s teachings.
Incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Literary quality: 
Transmits values: 
Sexual content: 
Violent content: 
Vulgar or obscene language: 
Ideas that contradict Church teaching: 
The rating of the different categories comes from the opinion of Delibris' collaborators

The book contains the brief memories of the well-known journalist and writer, master of English prose, describing his life of pilgrimage and his spiritual journey until his conversion to Catholicism. Muggeridge (1903-1990) has a great intellectual status and he shows it in this work, which is deep and solid. All his life he was a seeker of the meaning of life. His conversion starts from some events he experienced in his childhood, to the happiness he found in marriage and in his four children.

He writes with sincerity and courage, because he had confessed to be an agnostic for most of his life. He began to turn to Christianity in 1969 and in 1976 on the occasion of some of his writings. It was not until November 27, 1982 that he joined the Catholic Church, at the age of 80. His conversion surprised many people. 
In this book he includes passages from great Christian writers and other authors who influenced his thinking, such as St. Augustine, William Blake, Pascal, Tolstoy, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Solchenitzyn, Newman, Kempis, St. Francis de Sales, Weil ....... He also includes some carefully chosen poems. The titles of each chapter are meaningful and reveal his multifaceted biography: the child, ecstasy, the boy, the adolescent, the student, the teacher, the journalist, the soldier, the foreign correspondent, the spiritual pilgrimage and the prospect of death. 

His conversion did not happen at a particular moment, but happened in a series of events such as his friendship with the Italian clergyman Father Bidone and Teresa of Calcutta. He claims that nothing, no book, no discourse, no ceremony, brought him so close to Christ or made him so aware of what the Incarnation means to us, and what it demands of us as Mother Teresa who was a living conversion. The subtitle is very appropriate to what he lived, A Spiritual Journey. 

In elementary school he asked many questions in his classes on Sacred Scripture. He was concerned about the compatibility of divine action with human freedom. 
At home the only religion was progress, the welfare society, especially in her father who declared himself a socialist. His grandmother was the only believer in the family.  At this time Malcolm read slowly the Gospels and in them he discovered a new world. He decided to buy a clandestine Bible and meditated on it slowly during his sleepless nights, which were very frequent. Some time later he realized that the passages he had underlined and read the most were those referring to the Passion.

In his adolescence there were many ups and downs; he was excessive in his drinking and in his treatment with women. He would repent of his misconduct and struggle again.  He came into contact with clergymen and seminarians. He attended religious services in the chapel and prayed. He asked God for forgiveness for his faults. He reflects on the meaning of faith, he is attracted to it but cannot have it. It is in this period where he also had a double life; the spiritual one that he kept secret and the worldly one, very libertine that leads him to neglect his studies. Before leaving Cambridge he met Kitty Dobbs, who was the true love of his life, and married her in civil marriage. She was baptized the same day as her husband. 

He was a teacher in India and then in Egypt. In Cairo his first son was born and made him immensely happy. From that moment on he changed many of his opinions. The one that remained throughout his life was to maintain and defend the sanctity and value of human life. In matters of politics, he was first a leftist partisan and after living in Russia for a while he became disillusioned and anti-communist. He discovered the lust for power behind the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

As a journalist he searches for the truth and finds the meaning of eternity. He uses a sense of humor, sometimes even satire. He thinks that laughter, truly, is God's therapy. He often recites the Lord's Prayer, which is the only prayer he knows by heart. He knows that the alternative to the lust for power is love. As a soldier he faces very difficult situations that depress him and lead him to think of disappearing, but when he thinks of his wife and children he returns to vital optimism. 

He received his first impulse towards conversion in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. One of the reasons why he hesitated so much before becoming a Catholic was his disagreement with some of the human elements he saw in the Church. That is why intellectually he cannot explain his inner transformation, which is very much like falling in love, it is something intimate, something that happens in the heart. It was the Catholic Church's firm stance on contraception and abortion that finally helped him to enter it. He fought vigorously in defending these moral issues. 

I highly recommend reading it. It is not simple, it requires prior culture and reflection. I find it a fascinating conversion.

Author: Marcela Navarro Hernández, Mexico
Update on: Nov 2022