Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Larry Norman's Influence in Catholic Conversion

The late Larry Norman, one of my earlier Christian music influences, unwittingly had a hand in starting the American Chesterton Society which is founded by a convert to the Catholic faith, Dale Ahlquist. Dale is the brother of Pam Ahlquist who was Larry Norman's first wife. Apparently Larry introduced a young Dale to the writings of GK Chesterton and the rest is, as we say, history.
The American Chesterton Society's goal is to introduce America to the "Apostle of Common Sense." Chesterton's apologetics for Christianity and Catholicism are still read and held in high regard. CS Lewis also credits his conversion to some of Chesterton's writings.

"I had a brother-in-law who was a famous Jesus Rock singer back in the 1970's. His name was Larry Norman. He was the one who first recommended that I read Chesterton. He made the astonishing comment that if I read Chesterton I wouldn't need to read C.S. Lewis, because everything in Lewis was already in Chesterton. For an Evangelical, this was like blasphemy. But the comment stuck with me. It would be a few more years till I finally picked up my first Chesterton book, which was on my honeymoon! It was The Everlasting Man (pause for laughter). My initial impression? That my entire college education had been a fraud. Which it was, as it turns out." Dale Ahlquist

To read more about Dale Ahlquist, check out this interview with him


Blogger Lachen said...

I was also somehow lead to the Catholic Church by Larry Norman.
I was a member of a very anti-catholic church as most of my relatives here in a small village in Sweden. A friend of mine, who also was a big LN-fan, pointed out to me that Larry always gave credit to an author called Chesterton on his albums. I started to read his books starting with Ortodoxy followed by the stories about Father Brown. That was the start of my journey towards the Church. My friend is still very anti-catholic and likes to mock for being a catholic but I donĀ“t care.

July 28, 2009 8:07 AM  
Blogger Owen said...

Good ol'Larry. The original Larry Boy, I think. It's sad they divorced. It's good he lent a helping hand toward the Catholic Church, if unwittingly, while he was only visiting this planet. Larry was one of a kind. May he rest in peace - goodness knows a rest is needed.

July 28, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

That was really interesting -- Larry Norman was Dale Ahlquist's brother-in-law! Whoda thunk?

I found out about G.K. Chesterton through a Christian singer/songwriter, too. But, mine was Carolyn Arends -- who also has a Larry Norman connection: "">Bananas with Larry Norman.

Thank you for sharing!

July 28, 2009 4:40 PM  
Blogger TJ said...

Lachen: That's a neat connection. The Father Brown books started Larry to read the rest of Chesterton, so sad he never made the jump to Catholicism. Then he would have been writing songs like
"Why should the Protestants have all the good music?"

July 29, 2009 5:43 PM  
Blogger TJ said...

Hey Owen:
thanks for checking in. Yes I pray for him now even...

July 29, 2009 5:47 PM  
Blogger TJ said...

Hey Justine: thanks for visiting.
I heard a lot about Carol Arends around the time Rich died but never saw or heard her music

July 29, 2009 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Mark Brumley said...

Thanks for the post. I am also a convert from Evangelicalism. While I was once a big Larry Norman fan, I don't know that I can say he had much direct influence on my conversion to the Catholic faith. To the extent he helped me think outside of the narrow Fundamentalist box, he was an indirect influence. It is somewhat amusing to think of such an independent minded, ecclesiastical iconoclast leading people to the most ecclesiastical institutional expressions of Christianity. What ironies life has.

In any case, I found his music helpful and I pray for the repose of his soul.

October 07, 2009 3:45 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks for coming by Mark!
BTW, I have read your books and have really appreciated them, especially "How Not To Share your Faith"

October 07, 2009 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Mark Brumley said...

Happy to have happened by. I was doing a bit of research for a project on Evangelical converts and wound up reading your Larry Norman post. Thanks.

October 09, 2009 2:41 AM  
Anonymous David Marshall said...

Alquist is grossly exagerrating when he says Lewis borrowed "everything, everything" from Chesterton. I love both writers, but neither can be reduced to the other. Lewis was called "the best-read man of his generation," and you can see traces of ideas and images from hundreds of writers in his own writings -- and he himself placed George McDonald at the head of the list. Enjoy Chesterton, learn from him, quote him in season and out of season, but don't idolize the poor fellow.

September 19, 2010 11:07 PM  

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