Butter Rum Cartoon

Butter Rum Cartoon

Search the Butter Rum Cartoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A letter I wrote to my sister and her husband 22 happy years ago:

702 W. Casino, P-104
Everett, WA 98204
April 4, 1989

Dear Linda & Ron,

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Everett, Washington,
where Micki joined the Church in 1984
and I joined the Church in 1989
…A bit of family gossip that you probably know, but I suppose it should come from me, too: I joined the Catholic Church! If you grew up like me--and I think you did--you probably heard the horror stories of Catholics worshiping Mary and statues and all, and confessing just to a man (a priest), and on and on. I still remember the Dahls across the street in Allen; they were Catholics! Yuckers! And so we boys always had a suspicious dislike for each other. Also there were the stories that Catholics believe that only Catholics will be saved, etc. (Not true.) Anyway, when Mom heard that I was joining the Catholic Church, she expressed an uncomfortable silence. And the best thing she could say about it is that it’s not as bad as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ironically, Paul [brother who converted to the Watchtower] sort of paved the way for me to do this without much stir, because the orthodoxy of Catholicism is more acceptable to most than the intimidation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mom’s right: it’s not as bad.

I lucked out another way, too, because I’m not having to go through the persecution that I made Micki go through. When Micki joined the Catholic Church five years ago, I tortured her emotionally, and wouldn’t let up. We argued (I argued) for years, and really made her life miserable. Meanwhile I backslid into agnosticism (to say it mildly) and was a pathetic influence on our poor sons who were caught in the middle. Yet meanwhile Leif, too, joined the Catholic Church, and Sam was baptized in it. I just flailed my intellect and built upon my wounded pride.

Fr. Seamus Laverty
is now the priest at the Church of Saint Patrick
in Tacoma, Washington
But then a crisis happened in our marriage (which you also probably know about) followed by a dramatic reconciliation. For me, it was a difficult exercise in humility and a sudden realization of my true priorities. I decided I love my family. During a week’s separation, in a fit of traumatic desperation, I even went alone to talk with Micki’s priest. At the time, he happened to be walking over to hear confessions in the church, and he agreed to meet with me in the confessional. Fr. Seamus Laverty has a policy of letting the person/people-in-need come to him rather than going to them (and possibly embarrassing them or putting them on the spot), but as a favor to me, he broke his policy (which I’ve since found out is extremely unusual for him to do) and kept his promise to me by phoning Micki and talking with her. He told her that I really was very sorry. (By the way, I just found out that was exactly one year to the day before my joining the Church.)

To make a long story short, we got back together, and since then we’ve been happier than ever. It was during this happy time that I thought that rather than falling back on the old horror stories I would study the Catholic faith, from Catholic sources, to learn what it’s really all about. I’m sure Mom would love to blame Micki for my Catholicism, and it’s very true that if not for Micki’s conversion I would never have studied it in the first place (that I know of). No matter what kind of person I became, she stuck to her guns; and she did have a reasonable answer for any argument I came up with. And so it’s true that Micki is the one to (not blame but) thank.

But for sure the sources I discovered without Micki’s help turned out to be primo! Since most of my arguments came from Protestant fundamentalism, I found a great book of Catholic apologetics--exactly what I had long been searching for--in Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating (highly recommended by me now). I enjoyed the book so much, and was so impressed by it, that I took Keating’s advice in his final chapter by buying some of his recommended books, including the one that did me in! Besides the Bible, the most profound book I’ve ever read, and the one that finally convinced me to join the Catholic Church, is Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. It’s such a good book that this month I’m planning to order ten copies to have on hand to loan or give away to interested loved ones. Also it’s a good argument cop-out. No doubt, Paul will try to argue with my joining, because the Catholic Church is one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ very worst enemies. I’m finding that Catholics are very charitable towards them--almost naively so--but Witnesses hate Catholicism because it, above all, represents the orthodoxy of Christendom which they’re trying hard to break down. After all, it was the Roman Catholic Church that condemned their Arianism as heretical as far back as 325 A.D. Anyhow, if Paul or others try to argue, I can always say, “Here’s an excellent book on Catholicism. Read it, and then we can really get down to a good discussion.” Of course people who simply hate the Church and want to argue won’t make the effort to read the “enemy’s” book first. So I’m off the hook. Then again, maybe I’ll be inspired to tell them about it myself.

So these two books convinced me; the first one shook the basis of my arguments, and the second one planted a much more sensible anchor in reality. Meanwhile I began following the lengthy procedure of becoming a Church member, involving attending catechumenate classes from October until the Easter of the following year. I had tried this twice before, and both times became so disgusted that I dropped out after a few classes. But this time I was coming from a different place, and wasn’t so arrogant. I enjoyed every class! And when Easter came, I was happy!

Wonderful friends came to the confirmation service at Easter time. Beforehand some friends brought a homemade, decorated, “Congratulations Dale” cake to our house, and these same friends videotaped parts of the whole wonderful event. They say the video turned out really good--that I look very happy--and they’ll give us a copy. Friends all over brought gifts (including more good books!), and the Parish held a large reception for us (eight others joined with me) and had a huge cake with all our names on it. The ceremony itself was well rehearsed and beautiful! If nothing else can be said about the Catholic Church, they sure know how to make a new member very welcome! That wonderful time will be in my memory always! And I never dreamed how much I would enjoy and appreciate a communion!

And yes, I did go, the day before, back into that confessional. And rather than hearing me cry out my marital problems, Fr. Seamus Laverty heard me cry out all the sins of my life. And what turned out to be a less-than-ten-minute experience helped me probably even more than I’ll ever know.

So what this particular family gossip means is that ol’ Dale (who turned 40 that same Holy Week, by the way) now happens to feel better about himself than he’s ever felt. Thought you should know…

Lot o’ love,

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy the following:
This is a Honey of a Post, but Will You Read It?
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a truthful, open, and genuine conversion story. I loved every word of it! I'm curious to know how well this letter was received. I'm a convert and my husband seems to be inching closer and closer to Rome...but we shall see :) Your story gives me hope!