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Saturday, May 29, 2010


I'm always reading stories about other converts, regardless of which religion they are moving to or from. There seems to be a quality that converts have in common and which I'd love to study more and read more about. That is their zeal.

To some extent, people born in a religion can take it for granted and it can be uncomfortable to see people new to it who have so much excitement to do everything.

Here you are, you've been X religion all your life and you've settled into a groove with it, doing the parts that make sense to you and leaving some of it. Your name is X and your looks are X, so it has always been part of your identity and you don't have to do anything to hold onto it.

Now here comes someone who has just discovered how amazing and wonderful X religion is and he is doing every ritual and looks at you in surprise when you don't do something that is usually a part of X religion. This person studies and questions and asks about things you've never heard of before and their enthusiasm is exhausting and pretty annoying.

But converts can't help it!

Through Memoirs of a Jewminicana I found an article about a Jewish woman whose husband converted to marry her, but then took everything very seriously.

In the comments a girl named Rebecca said, "But realistically, who converts to be lukewarm about something."

Michelle responded:

You nailed it Rebecca. Someone told me about a year after my conversion that he was surprised at how familiar I was with services and rituals and how knowledgeable I was about Judaism in general. I couldn’t figure out why he would think I would be anything less. It’s hard for me to imagine someone converting who wasn’t passionate about it and didn’t want to immerse herself into the faith, the tradition and the community in a significant way.


  1. you may be right.

    but this zeal doesn't always turned up to be good. the most ill-famous muslim in bengal during middle ages known for atrocities on hindus was a convert. his name was kala-pahar and after conversion he devoted his life in destroying hindu temples, including the famous konark. he damaged the temple couldn't destroy it completely though.


  2. Great post, great site blog all together. I agree. There is something zealous about converts. It's passion that reaches their very bones. Not to say that us OG's aren't passionate, but it's the newness that creates the fire!

  3. Yes, the zeal can be dangerous.

    I would say that it was with Paul in Christianity too. He became so passionate after he saw Jesus that he told people to go out and convert the nations.

    Also that mess with Cat Stevens years ago when he said something about agreeing with the Ayatollah about the death threat against Salman Rushdie (I don't know all the details, but I know he later retracted it).

    I think it's partly wanting to be taken seriously, so doing everything that's required and more. I think it's also partly that converts can tend to be purists, still excited by all sorts of traditions that got mostly thrown out years before.

  4. Very good post.

    In India, the most intolerant christians are the neo converts. It is these neo converts who work with American Southern Baptist evangelicals and Pentecostals and spread hatred in India. It is this neo converts who are determined to culturally cleanse India to Christianity.

    The regular Indian Christians who have been Christians for generations also seem very uncomfortable with this "in your face" Christianity in India today.

  5. I have a friend in San Francisco who want to introduce me to some single white Hindus. But then he and I mused that it may not be such a good idea since I was not such a good Hindu. I eat beef!

    LOL :)

  6. lol. Well, you never know, it doesn't hurt to meet people and see from there if they are horrified by your beef eating :)

    I have noticed the same with new Christians vs old. I have a friend in my Hindi class who is an Indian Christian, but her family has been for hundreds of years. She's totally open minded, relaxed and kind about different religions. I don't feel the pressure of Christianity from her at all.

  7. My thought is, when you know nothing, you tend to want to learn everything. :) Since we were not steeped in the religion, we feel we should learn everything we can to make up for this and do our best. This is also, for me, a way to fight the idea that I might be "less of" this thing because I converted rather than was born into it. Have to make up for that lack.

    Oddly enough I have found that those who are converted are much more hardlined than others.