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Dear Mrs. Q

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Dec 24, 2006

Himself a Catholic convert from Anglicanism, Ronald Knox wrote a series of letters to an Anglican woman who was on the verge of becoming a Catholic but dithering because of the pain and consternation her conversion would cause her friends and relatives. Knox had great sympathy for her position, yet understood that a point is reached when the excuses for delay are no longer valid:

You are at present holding up your assent by an act of the will. I am not blaming you for this; nearly all converts do it for a time. But you have no right to hold it up indefinitely. Nor must you cheat yourself into supposing that, the longer you wait, the more evidence you are accumulating.

His correspondent was familiar with Knox's personal journey and was asking his counsel for that reason. He rightly refuses to make the decision for her, but turns the tables so as to make her confront her own recognition of what is at stake:

Ask yourself what advice you would give, if somebody appealed to you for advice in exactly your difficulties, only somebody who had no family ties or inherited scruples to worry about, and who had, say, only a fortnight to live. The answer you give is your intellectual perception of the truth.

The book in which these letters are collected, incidentally, is titled Off the Record.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JARay - Dec. 26, 2006 8:28 AM ET USA

    How can anyone say "What more can anyone say"?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 26, 2006 6:44 AM ET USA

    "I went sky divin', I went Rocky Mountain climbin', I spent 3.7 seconds on a bull named 'Fu Manchu'" and I converted to Catholicism. "Someday I hope you'll get the chance to live like [sic] you were dyin'." Who would ever have thought that Knox's advice to the faith-lorn would find its way into country music? Uncle Di, I depend on you to be better read, better spoken, and much more trenchant in your observations than I could ever be, and once again I express my sincere appreciation.

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