Sohrab Ahmari, a Muslim-born Iranian and an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal in London, recalls his long journey from flirtations with Nietzsche and Marxism to Roman Catholicism. He also explains why evangelicalism didn’t appeal to him as much.
Ahmari, the author of The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts, announced his cession to join the Catholic Church hours after the killing of French priest Jacques Hamel in Normandy, France, in the name of the Islamic State terror group on July 26.
Though impulsive, the decision to announce his conversion was not just due to Hamel’s martyrdom, explains Ahmari, who writes editorials and commissions and edits op-eds for the Journal’s European edition, in an article in The Catholic Herald. “The real story was much longer and more complicated.”
When Ahmari was 12, he decided that there was no God. “At school, I had already begun clashing with my Koran teacher, whose real job was to inculcate students in the regime’s ideology, a mix of Shia chauvinism, anti-Americanism and Jew-hatred,” he explains.
At home, he adds, he “air-drummed to Pink Floyd and read my father’s weather-beaten copy of Catcher in the Rye.”
In the late 90s, he moved to Eden, Utah, with his mother, and “were now in the heart of Mormon country.”
He says he thought, “If Shia Islam, with its rich iconography and theology, was all hypocrisy, then Mormonism and America’s Protestant ethic and cheerful consumerism were even more contemptible – and equally repressive in their own way.”
Just before university, he discovered Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. But he now calls the philosopher “half-mad.”
“I lived totally in my head. There, the world was meaningless; and if there was any point to life, it could only be reached on the far side of God’s absence,” he describes his philosophy at the time.
“The next stop was Marxism – specifically Trotskyism, a more romantic strand of the totalitarian ideology,” Ahmari, who earned a law degree from Northeastern University in Boston, writes. “In retrospect, it’s obvious why Marxism appealed to me: it went well with the latent anti-Americanism still imprinted on my Iranian mind. With Marxism, I could oppose the U.S. as the evil capitalist hegemon without having to buy into any fanatical Shia mumbo-jumbo.”
As a child, Ahmari was interrogated by security officials about his parents and faced disciplinary action for accidentally bringing a video tape of Star Wars into school as Western films were officially banned in the country at the time.
He explains his worldview as a young man was somewhat like this: “Man’s place in the world is unsettled; we are homeless.”
Ahmari gradually began to recognize the significance of Judeo-Christian foundations of the West, but that didn’t make him a Christian. “But it helped,” he writes. “If I enjoyed the beauty and ordered liberty I saw around me, then I had to give credit to the ideals that gave birth to it. You couldn’t have one without the other. The beauty and order reflected an underlying truth. It wasn’t my truth, but I no longer lightly dismissed faith.”
SOURCE: The Christian Post – Anugrah Kumar