Quotations about   conversion

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I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.

Umberto Eco (b. 1932) Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, novelist
Foucault’s Pendulum, ch. 87 (1988) [tr. W. Weaver (1989)]
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See also Hawthorne.
Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Depend upon it, as long as the church is living so much like the world, we cannot expect our children to be brought into the fold.

Dwight Lyman "D. L." Moody (1837-1899) American evangelist and publisher
God’s Good News, “Where Art Thou?” [Gen. 3:9] (1897)
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 26-Aug-17
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There is no proselyter half so energetic as the hard-shelled atheist.

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
“A New Preface to an Old Story”, Broun’s Nutmeg (19 Aug 1939)
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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To aim to convert a man by miracles is a profanation of the soul.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Divinity School Address” (1838)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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Do you know what makes a leader? It’s the man or woman who can persuade people to do what they ought to do — and which they sometimes don’t do — without being persuaded. They must also have the ability to persuade people to do what they do not want to do and like it.

Harry S Truman (1884-1972) US President (1945-1953)
Speech, Annapolis (24 May 1952)
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Truman used this phrase multiple times in his speech and writing:
  • Common paraphrase: "You know what makes leadership? It is the ability to get men to do what they don't want to do and like it."
  • "I could see that history had some extremely valuable lessons to teach. I learned from it that a leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do, and like it." -- Memoirs, Book 1 (1955)]
  • "My definition of a leader in a free country is a man who can persuade people to do what they don't want to do, or do what they're too lazy to do, and like it." -- Where the Buck Stops (1990) [ed. M. Truman]
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him of whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Surprised by Joy, ch. 14 (1955)
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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You ask me in effect why I am not a Roman Catholic. If it comes to that, why am I not — and why are you not — a Presbyterian, a Quaker, a Mohammedan, a Hindu, or a Confucianist? After how prolonged and sympathetic study and on what grounds have we rejected these religions? I think those who press a man to desert the religion in which he has been bred and in which he believes he has found the means of Grace ought to produce positive reasons for the change — not demand from him reasons against all other religions. It would have to be all, wouldn’t it?

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Father Peter Milward (6 May 1963)
Added on 15-Jul-15 | Last updated 15-Jul-15
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Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
“How the Church will change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K. Wallace]
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Added on 17-Sep-14 | Last updated 17-Sep-14
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It is no good reason for a man’s religion that he was born and brought up in it; for then a Turk would have as much reason to be a Turk as a Christian to be a Christian.

William Chillingworth (1602-1644) English churchman and theologian
Religion of Protestants, ch. 2, sec. 113 (1687)
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Added on 15-Apr-14 | Last updated 15-Apr-14
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The greater the interest involved in a truth the more careful, self-distrustful, and patient should be the inquiry. I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place, because, such as it is, it is better than nothing.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison (1853)
Added on 17-Nov-10 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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Action and becoming are one.

Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?) German Dominican mystic, theologian [a.k.a. Eckehart von Hochheim]
Sermons #18 [tr. Blakney (1941)]
Added on 5-Sep-08 | Last updated 30-Sep-16
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But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to him, and not to the priests. I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives, and by this test, my dear Madam, I have been satisfied yours must be an excellent one, to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith [Margaret Bayard Smith] (6 Aug 1816)
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Added on 5-Dec-07 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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