Interview on August 26, 2021 with James, who entered the Church in April 2021 at age 24.
What was your faith background?
James: I grew up in an Anglican family, but really it was more Anglican in name than anything else. By the time I was about 13 or 14, I would probably describe myself as atheist and didn’t believe in God. I went to church occasionally because my school attended services three times a year and I sang in choir, so I’d occasionally sing in churches, but besides that, I generally would have said I didn’t believe in God and I didn’t attend church.
My conversion started when I went off to university at 18 and I had a lot of spare time. I only had about 10, 11 hours of class a week. I enjoyed exploring politics and that extended to politics and philosophy. And as I explored philosophy, I became interested in the idea of subjective versus objective morality. At the time I would have said, because I was atheist, that morality was subjective, but from exploring history and seeing that there’s clearly a pattern, that there is one set of moral rules or moral guidelines that are better than others, and there must be a reason why they’re better, that pushed me to thinking, “Is morality in fact objective?” That was the first time I started to consider religion again.
The issue of subjective versus objective morality was key in my conversion. The other one was scientism. About three years ago I became aware of the term “scientism” and the idea that science is being excessively used to explain phenomena that can’t be explained using a scientific method. And once I was introduced to the term and what it meant, I became increasingly aware of how common it is.
I read C.S. Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man and that really resonated with me because that was how I felt through state schools in the UK, that we were being taught all of these things, but we weren’t given any kind of foundation to why those things were true and it meant that everything we were taught was so weakened, easily criticized, and ignored. What I became aware of is that as an atheist, I too easily dismissed a lot of things with a pseudo-scientific explanation for them, ignored that there was actually something deeper going on, and only considered the material when things are actually much more complicated than that. That was a real shift in my thinking from being entirely materialistic to realizing that there is much more to us as humans than that and to all the world around us than that. I effectively had to reconsider my entire way of thinking about the world.
The decision to convert to Catholicism was much later. Going from the idea that morality was objective, I realized that the set of moral foundations that seemed to me to be the best were the ones that held up Western civilization, those being Judeo-Christian morals, values, and guidelines. Looking at empires like the Roman empire and Byzantine empire, I saw that the downfall of those empires seemed to come when they turned away from those moral foundations and tried to create rules for themselves. That’s when I realized that actually there was something significant in Christianity itself and therefore in the Bible that I’d clearly missed or been perhaps too young to understand at the time when I had initially described myself as atheist.
So at that point I was interested more in the teachings of Christianity, but my conversion to Catholicism would have been much later. There’s still kind of a divide between Protestantism and Catholicism in the UK and so whilst I was still in the UK, I wasn’t sure how my family would feel about me converting to Catholicism. But what attracted me to the hierarchy of Catholicism I think is really important. The idea that any institution and, in particular, that the Church could exist without a solid hierarchy just seemed strange to me.
The Anglican churches are synod-based sort of denominations and when it came to issues of morality, it shouldn’t be something that’s voted on. It’s something that is true or isn’t. It’s not something that you can have a synod and vote on it. It should be a hierarchy with one authority leading the Church and that very much attracted me to the Catholic Church and, on top of that, the tradition of the Catholic Church. Growing up, the church we attended would have been described as a high Anglican church. It kept some of the traditions of Catholicism, but, looking back now, it was kind of an imitation of Catholicism. So you have the Eucharist, but you don’t believe in the real presence and you don’t really have apostolic succession because of the Protestant Reformation. All of those things are lost. Those important traditions of the Catholic Church are imitated in Anglicanism, but missing.
So my thinking was, “Why would I choose Anglicanism because I liked the traditions when those traditions were simply an imitation of everything the Catholic Church does?” When I came out to Santa Barbara I knew that I wanted to start attending church again. I hadn’t been attending Mass or anything in the UK, because I didn’t know how my family would react and I was still torn whether I would go to an Anglican church or a Catholic church when I came out here. But I eventually came to the realization that the Catholic Church was the right decision and I could resolve any issues with my family as it went on. They would be fine with whatever decision I made and in the end that’s worked out. During my last year at university, in the UK, I on a number of occasions considered attending the Catholic church there. One thing that held me back was that I didn’t know how British Catholics would react to a Protestant convert given there’s this still somewhat existing conflict between the two in the UK.
Was there anything in particular that pushed you over the edge to deciding that Catholicism was the way to go?
James: Part of it was the Catholic Church’s strength on key moral issues. Abortion is a big one because the Anglican church is still so weak on the issue of abortion. Their official teaching is that they’re opposed to it but no one in the Anglican church is willing to stand up for those views. Similarly with marriage, where there’s a potential issue with the synod system that there are large factions within the Anglican church who would be prepared to recognize gay marriage within the Anglican church. On a lot of key moral issues, the Anglican church is becoming weaker and weaker and I think that’s a product of the democratic system that it’s built around. I saw the stability of the strict hierarchy of the Catholic Church and I thought that was just much better.
Were there any hurdles that held you back from the Catholic Church?
James: So it was just always that doubt as to whether I was making the right decision, but when I got here, attending the first Mass at St. Mark’s that Sunday was an incredible experience. It was the first time I’d been to a Catholic Mass. It was obviously beautiful. I knew at that point that I was absolutely making the right decision and from that point on, I don’t think I had any doubts that joining the Catholic Church was the right decision. Coming from being an atheist, I still had some sort of doubts, but that quickly went away.
Given your trust in the hierarchy, have any of Pope Francis’ actions or Catholics’ reactions to them given you pause?
James: I’ve had some difficulties with some of the things that have been said because over the last six months or so, I started attending Latin Masses. It wasn’t very often because they’re not very nearby, but I could really appreciate the reverence and beauty of Latin Masses and so I found the whole discussion around restrictions on the Latin Mass really difficult. But I think the realization I came to is that, as the pope, Pope Francis is acting in what he understands to be the best interests of the Church. Whatever happens, the Catholic Church will remain because it is eternal. For some Catholics it could be really difficult to lose the form of the liturgy that they love. But I think whatever Pope Francis is doing, he is doing in the best interests of the church. He is the pope.
Yes. Thank God for Pope Francis – wonderful Pope.
Hey! Today is Labor Day! Here is an idea: how about posting an article about Labor Day and all of the Catholic labor leaders and union members who fought for the rights we enjoy today: 40 hour work week, a living wage, benefits, no child labor, weekends and paid vacations! The Pope and some of the Bishops supported these efforts.
There were some good labor leaders and some bad ones. I knew a Teamster who made threating calls to people as I overheard him on the phone. He was not good to his wife either and was known to frequent peep shows, porn shops and cheat on her. Later he tried it with me, and I never new exactly why he did it because his threats were never clear. He would call people and tell them, “We are going to fix you,” and never explain why. I always disliked unions because of his and some other’s behavior. Some such things happened on the other side, but I hate the us against them mentality.
It is absolutely amazing that some Catholics seem to be opposed to Barney’s post about Labor Day. My parents were faithful Catholics and hard working union members back in the day. I remember my dad saying to my mom “10% of the paycheck goes to Msgr Gallagher down at the church.” The local parish was St. Rita’s
God bless James.
I say, James, a convert to Catholicism, “gets it.” His understanding of the Papacy is so correct that it puts to shame those Catholics who may have been longer in the Church yet who erroneously believe (and some of them comment here, people) that the Pope is there to support whatever political or ideological point-of-view they have. Wrong. As James has said, the Pope is there to lead the Church on a course that he knows is for the good of the Church. Brilliant.
Dr. Taylor Marshall is a convert from Anglicanism too. Enjoy his many videos on YouTube.
The focus of this article is James, not Marshall. Stories like James’ are a good way to get in touch with what the true understanding of certain institutions of the Church is, like the Papacy, rather than continuing to wallow in erroneous conceptions acquired from irresponsible blogs, from pseudo-intellectual authors/Youtubers who merely peddle on discontent and have “brainwashed” whole swathes of Catholics just to get your money, or from the beloved SSPX and other exclusivist communities.
I believe that it is liberals that have been brainwashed.
The “brainwashing” occurs on both sides, LD.
I avoid his videos for fear of being misled.
I too would like to recommend Dr. Marshall. I think many readers of this site will appreciate his podcasts and YouTube videos.
Taylor Marshall does a great job of exposing much of the corruption in the Church.
I’ve learned more from Taylor Marshall the past year than in my regular Parish Masses the past 20 years!
I would say that convert Dr. Taylor Marshall gets it. People can listen and judge for themselves.
Jon, Yes, the story is about James but drawing analogies is on the higher end of comprehension of Bloom’s Taxonomy, so it was a perfect add to the discussion. As for your “rant” about Marshal “..wallow in erroneous conceptions acquired from irresponsible blogs, from pseudo-intellectual authors/Youtubers who merely peddle on discontent and have “brainwashed” whole swathes of Catholics just to get your money, or from the beloved SSPX and other exclusivist communities.” besides being unChristian and un-charitable, it is also incorrect. Marshall holds a doctorate and several degrees in theology and (based on your post) probably a better vocabulary and comprehension skills on the subject. I suggest you watch some of his videos and see how the young people of the Church are moving-toward tradition. God Bless.
Keith, please. I’ve watched his Youtube clips and have read his book. The scholarship in it is embarrassing. For him.
Commenter jon: “The scholarship in it is embarrassing.”
This is the kind of comment one should make only if one is competent to judge serious scholarship, but the commenter doesn’t sound like he is. In fact, it seems to be the comment rather of an amateur — indeed, of a wannabe scholar — than of one really competent to judge serious scholarship.
Every scholar knows, or should know, that sources need only be documented according to the needs of the target audience, and that one’s arguments should be no more complex than is necessary to convince the target audience. But was Dr. Marshall trying to influence experts in his field, a room of PhDs at a professional colloquium, or the readership of a scholarly journal in Church history? It doesn’t appear to me he was. A much broader, more popular lay audience seems to be what he had in mind, at least largely if not exclusively, and so only naturally should scholars (real ones at least) expect Marshall’s work to have adopted different standards and conventions — in style and scholarship alike.
Authorial variance like this is legitimate and can be witnessed among countless other scholars. Edward Feser is an example. One need only compare a peer-reviewed publication of his to one of his more popular monographs to see this.
All you’re saying Scriptor is that Marshall did not bother to document his sources in the book because he didn’t think his “target audience” would be diligent enough to bother to check his references. Wow. Sounds like he doesn’t think much about his readers or followers, the way you put it.
Marshall’s book “Infiltration” has page after page of his source documents. Look it up.
Clearly, that is not “all” I am saying, much less saying at all. But I understand well how pettiness and pedantry like yours can interfere with reading comprehension, intellectual honesty, and all the rest. Your comments offer a brilliant illustration.
And can one imagine how silly one would look if, by the rigid standards of commenter jon, one were to deliver a presentation in a professional colloquium? The entire talk would be littered with oral citations — all because, per commenter jon, effective communication isn’t about delivery; it’s about documentation (of each and every mind-numbing, jon-obsessed documentable thing).
Hey, Scriptor, don’t knock me for Marshall’s lack of citations and documentation in his book; you were the one who brought that up, I didn’t. Obviously “scholarship”, which is what I had identified as sorely lacking in his writing, is more than just knowing how to use footnotes, endnotes, documentation, and making sure your book has an index. But somehow that’s where Scriptor gravitated towards, and now he/she is using insults as a recourse. Pitiful and funny, really.
So did you even read Dr, Marshall’s book “Infiltration” or any of his other books? You knock his scholarship then seem to be unclear if he included citations, which doesn’t make sense, so do explain.
Commenter jon: “Obviously ‘scholarship’ … is more than just knowing how to use footnotes, endnotes, documentation …. But somehow that’s where Scriptor gravitated towards … Pitiful and funny, really” — Yeah. It is really shocking.
Scriptor, Non Jon and all, life is short and time is precious. The time we give to this website should be to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner. We need to bear patiently those who wrong us and forgive all injuries.
I think those who are using Catholic Internet, no matter who it is, need to be wary of pride, anger, envy, greed and take everything with as many grains of salt as it requires.
If you have not read the Bible (yep, the whole Bible) and you do not have a daily Bible devotion; if you do not pray the Rosary daily. if you have not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accepted it, you are not ready to expose yourself to Internet opinion makers.
If you are going to read or watch something on the Pope’s encyclicals or other writings, make sure you have read them and understand them first.
I honestly avoid books like “Infiltration” because they mislead (even without intent). They require a great deal of disinterest and discernment. You need to have full mastery of your mental and emotional facilities to be able to read them profitably.
I can’t speak for jon but Steve would say “Well, exc-u-u-use me.”
You are right. His intended audience is not people who know Catholicism well.
jon. it’s posts like this that spotlight your hubris. Work on humility and make a good confession, that’s the Catholic response to your situation.
You made me look him up. What I saw was disgusting and outrageous. He is working for the devil. He may not know it. Shuddering…Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Why, because he exposes the truth. The wolves in sheep’s clothing are those responsible for the corruption in the Church, not those who expose the corruption.
He doesn’t expose corruption in the Church. He gossips about it You will know the wolves in sheep’s clothing by their deeds.
If he was exposing corruption in the Church, there are Church channels to deal with that. You don’t podcast it.
There is a reason you want that. I avoid that because I know it is sinful. Sometimes it makes you feel “in the know.” That is pride and ambition. It may be a phase you are going through. Pray to Mary to show you the right path.
Please believe me. Faithful Catholics do not behave like this.
No need for me to go to confession, nor is there “hubris” in my words, Duh. My words convey the truth and I stand by my words.
And I must add that James here has a better, more orthodox, and a more faith-filled understanding of the Papacy. Just because a person has a bunch of letters after his last name doesn’t mean that such a person “gets it” or should be trusted automatically. Marshall has a book to sell and YouTube clips to promote. James doesn’t.
Dr. Taylor Marshall’s youtube videos are free, and his books are at libraries for free reading.
His books are at libraries??? He is a best selling author according to Sophia Press. He makes money doing this.
YouTube videos are free to watch. You watch ads so he can make money. He makes Money off them.
Yes he makes money off his videos. Which means he has an interest in saying the most sensationalistic things he possibly can so that he can generate more traffic and therefore more ad dollars to himself. That is not how ministries ought to operate.
Non Jon, the topic is does he make money doing what he does, not whether there is free content.
You can access his work for free and his remuneration does not change that fact. Youtube or library, free for anyone to enjoy.
Making money out of lambasting the Church in which he converted is in very poor taste and form. If he doesn’t like the pope, whoever he may be, he had best remained an Anglican. Plus, Instigating, even goading, others into division within the Church, is not of the Holy Spirit.
“Plus, Instigating, even goading, others into division within the Church, is not of the Holy Spirit.”
And you are one to speak?
Non Jon, it is about his motivation, not whether he gives free access to his opinions. There is an audience for what he does. Maybe he doesn’t want money, maybe he wants attention, maybe he wants fame, maybe he wants to be discussed.
Maybe he wants a piece of the Michael Voris pie.
He us just a lay person. He is a convert of 12 years, I think.
So he read a few books or watched a few videos and he’s gonna tell you what he thinks he about it.
He is not an expert on anything except himself, like most of us.
Why would anyone waste their time on this?
Why am I wasting my time here?
Yes, Angie, I am the one to speak. For years I have been sternly warning folks here about their divisive, dissentful, and irreverent comments. Though I regularly attend the usus antiquior, I have defended the Ordinary Form, Vatican II, and other teachings of the Church here, and people persisted in their dissentful and divisive comments. Well, my words have been vindicated, sadly, by the Pope’s “Traditionis custodes.” These folks have brought all of this upon themselves, unfortunately. So, yes, Angie. I.am.the.one.to.speak.
Many years ago i realized how much money could be made trumpeting the Eucharist and Mary and vilifying progressive Catholics. You couldn’t attack the Pope back then.
All you have to do is act like you are defending the Lord against his enemies and the money comes rolling in.
Also, there is money in pro-life.
Organizations back then made millions doing that.
I did not do it because I would rather be holy (i’m still not) than wealthy.
Jon, we know you defended Pope Francis in the past concerning the Pachamama incident, and we all know that Dr. Taylor Marshall encouraged Alexander Tschugguel to throw those idols, which should not have been in any Christian church, into the Tiber, so your dislike of Marshall is no mystery.
Again Anne TE is wrong. In fact I‘ve not commented on the “Pachamama incident” here nor anywhere. Also Anne TE is wrong by saying I “dislike” Marshall; I do not “dislike” Marshall because I’ve never met him. I’ve only seen his YouTube clips and read the book, which is enough to be able to say that James here has a better grasp, understanding, and viewpoint about the Papacy.
So why haven’t you commented on the pachamama things jon??
Anne TE is very wrong. I have actually never commented on the “Pachamama incident” here nor anywhere. Plus, I have never met Marshall, and I usually do not “dislike” people I have not had the chance of meeting yet.
She used to be a good Catholic. She has fallen under some bad influences. There are a lot of them out there.
I had it explained to me once by a member of the clergy. It is like shooting an arrow. A small error becomes bigger and bigger. Just like the slightest error of angle at the bow becomes a major miss at the target.
Anyone can fall.
Pray for all Catholics and all Christians.
Jon, it is you who are wrong. You got into an argument with me in the past when I told you that i refused to get involved in the approval of a Hindu prayer when I was asked to do so when on a liturgy committee, which also included a discussion of the Pachamama incident. My problem is not with James, but with you. James is still learning, just like all the rest of us.
Strange you Haven’t commented on the pachamama incidents – more than just one – the shameful Vatican Garden prostrations and the carrying of the pagan statue into St. Peter’s itself. Perhaps even you jon, know that the current pontiff deserves criticism for not putting an end to such abominations.
I must say Anne TE that I have never argued with anyone about Hindu prayers. You got the wrong “Jon.”
No, Jon, it was you. You admitted recently that you have been posting on this website about as long as I have. There’s been no other Jon. Taylor Marshall, Scott Hahn, Jessie Romero, Patrick Madrid and many others realizes it is their job to take care of their families, teach them right from wrong and protect them from molestation. They get it, whether they agree on everything or not. “Trending at Timory”, she gets it too.
Good God, who cares on who comments on Pachamama. Get a life people. You hold grudges for years, apparently. It’s ruining your souls. You dig up things that have no relevance. You accuse people of awful things. You bring up aspects of people’s opinions and lives that are not even on topic. Is this the best Christian life you have to lead?
God bless James. I am thrilled that he has joined the Church, but he is a bit naive. Unfortunately there are lots of things coming out of Rome these days that are not in the best interests of the Church. The list is too long to print here.
I tried to give a thumbs up and a thumbs down but that doesn’t work. Thumbs up for the first 2 sentences.
I will give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt that he might have had bad eyes and was given the wrong information about the meaning of the idols since he is an old man, but when he was informed later, which some say he was, why he did he complain about their disposal? He relies on some very bad people for his information.
There was another video on the web where it seems he introduced two elderly tango dancers at a mass inside a church, and they danced the tango right there. We need the truth.
You have fallen under the spell of the rad trad Internet.
It is not worth your soul.
Go back to who you were before.
So Bishop Rene Gracida, Fred Martinez who started the Juan Diego Society are all “rad trads”, too? How about Bishops Strickland and Olmstead who dared express their doubts on certain things? Anyone who expresses a doubt about Pope Francis or what he has said or even tries to correct him gently are all “rad trads”? Add to that Cardinal Burke, Mueller and many others, all rad trads according to you I guess. Anyone who has a Dubia, all “rad trads”? Every one on Life Site News are all “rad trads”?
Bishop Strickland and Olmstead are not. Cardinal Burke and Mueller are not. I don’t know the others. Rad trads are people who reject Vatican II and part of what they are doing now is keeping the “faults” of Pope Francis alive on the Internet.
There are others who are not rad trads but exploit those who have doubts usually for profit. They too like to find fault with Pope Francis.
The devil is behind every attack on the Pope.
At the time of the Pachamama incident, I heard that the Pope had issued an apology. I thought the apology was going to be for allowing the idol to be brought into the church. How disappointed was I when I found out the apology was for getting rid of the idol. Unbelievable.
One of the reasons I am angry is that people are often brought into the Church by deception with priests trying to be faithful to Church teachings telling them one thing, and another group of priests, unfaithful to the Church’s teachings telling them that is all going to change, and that contraception, divorce, sodomite marriages are going to be accepted.
As Bishop Strickland asked, “Which is it?”
James, continue on you path to God. I give thanks and praise to the Lord for your discovery of Truth.
Peoples: Me thinks that a problem you all have is that many of you can’t stand that a young convert to Catholicism, James, who goes to the Extraordinary Form (as I do), is not filled with hatred and loathing for Pope Francis even after the promulgation of “Traditionis custodes.” James’ words respecting the Papacy and Francis displays a much more mature and serene attitude and deeper faith in Our Lord who guards His Church from error. And that is what many of you can’t stand. Many would rather listen to the drumbeat coming from a Taylor Marshall, than the sensible, faith-filled, and docile words of a young convert like James.
I don’t understand people in the Church who want to cast aspersions upon those in the Church who point out the corruption in the Church. It’s as if they want to bury their heads in the sand. God’s Church will survive with bad leaders. I thank Dr, Marshall, Lifesite News, Mother Miriam, Terry Barber, Jesse Romero, Tim Gordon, and other faithful Catholics who are not afraid to discuss problems in the Church.
Because it is a lack of holiness in them that makes them do it and it is a very slippery slope from imperfection to sin.
Psalm 15 especially verse 3
Let it dawn on you that “hatred and loathing for Pope Francis” is not a requirement for preferring the TLM.
Liking this Pope does not make you a more observant Catholic than someone who does not.
Well, Duh, if you are not “filled with hatred and loathing” for Pope Francis it may be a good idea to express your loyalty, obedience, if not affection for the Holy Father.
As for JD, I can’t understand people who are making money by “casting aspersions” upon the institutions of the Church. I just can’t.
This is embarrassing, people. James is gonna wonder what kind of Church he joined.
James, you joined the one true Church established by Christ but the devil is always assaulting her from within and without.
James has joined a Church of which the gates of Hell will not prevail. It is of God and will survive bad leaders both in and out of the Church.
and bad followers.
Why does this website attract so much of this. This is a Catholic website. I have to fear to speak well of the Pope here.
Many Catholics disliked the prior two Popes because they did not tell them what they wanted to hear.
It is no different now.
Pray the rosary daily. Do a holy hour per week (online if you have to)-traditional day is Thursday but you could do it everyday if you want.
Pray the morning offering and mean it.
“Therefore most Merciful Father, we humbly pray and entreat Thee, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, these offerings, these holy and spotless sacrifices, which, in the first place, we offer Thee for Thy Holy Catholic Church: deign to pacify, to guard, to unite and to govern Her throughout the world, together with Thy servant Francis, our Pope and N, our bishop and all orthodox believers of the catholic and apostolic faith.”
Please don’t be afraid to speak well of the Pope when it is deserved, but please don’t condemn others who point out corruption in the Church. They just want to end the corruption. The Church has survived for over two thousand years because God protects it from falling from attacks from those outside and inside the Church.
Please, the corruption in the Church is not ended by posting dissentious comments in blogs, nor by posting YouTube clips or publishing books about them for money, nor by thrashing at the Pope and bishops, and nor by simply gossiping about them at the next parish kaffeeklatsch. Neither is corruption in the Church ended by using the beautiful Mass of Pope St. John XXIII (that’s the usus antiquior, or the Extraordinary Form, or the TLM for you protestants out there) as a way of dividing the Church. Additionally, the corruption of the Church is not ended by mocking the Ordinary Form, nor by lambasting the Second Vatican Council. And people, there has always been corruption in any organization, and that includes the Church. There’s nothing new under the sun, people. You best work on expunging sin in your life than troubling yourself about things you have no control over. Pray about them if you will, but seeking to divide the Church is not the way to go.
Well, James, I hope you are still Catholic.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
because I ponder your testimonies.
I have more understanding than my elders,
because I keep your precepts.