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Audio and Video: Iranian-American Journalist Sohrab Ahmari
Tells Story of His Conversion

Posted: March 21, 2019

Audio | Podcast

This past Sunday, students, faculty, benefactors, and friends of Thomas Aquinas College listened with fascination as Iranian-born journalist Sohrab Ahmari told the story of his conversion to the Catholic faith.

Mr. Ahmari is the author of the recently published From Fire by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith (Ignatius Press), which details what he described as his “detours through Nietzche, Camus, Sartre, Marxism-Leninism, postmodernism, post-structuralism, and a brief evangelical spell.” His journey, he noted, began “with Friedrich Nietzsche,” and ended “with a very different German — Joseph Ratzinger”

Yet his conversion, Mr. Ahmari was quick to add, was not the product of his intellectual inquiry, but the fruit of God’s grace. “I would feel terrible if people came away from the book as though it were an account of my heroic efforts to read and reason my way to the Faith,” he said. “I think it will become clear that, ultimately, it’s divine grace that takes the initial action,  and all the reading and reasoning that follow are my reaction to it.”

During his two-day visit to campus, Mr. Ahmari spent time visiting with students — an experience he wrote about in a column for the Catholic Herald, The Tiny College that Shows how to Save U.S. Higher Education. “The most striking thing about TAC,” he observed, “is the campus culture: the modesty of dress; properly ordered relations between the sexes that spark early and fruitful marriages; the fact that, rather than vomit-strewn floors and gropings in the dark, St. Patrick’s Day festivities involve moderate drink and Irish balladry, with the young children of the professors around to remind the students of the proper ends of the married vocation. … Trying to imagine what a vibrant Catholic culture, born out of the wreckage of liberal modernity, might look like? You don’t have to: Come to Santa Paula and see for yourself.”

Members of the audience  who assembled in St. Cecilia Hall on this surprisingly warm afternoon — this year’s first glimpse of spring and summer — seemed to delight in Mr. Ahmari’s talk, asking many questions afterward and stopping to purchase copies of From Fire by Water before departing.

“I think our audience was intrigued to see that Sohrab’s intellectual journey took him through many of the texts we read here at the College — though without the benefit of the order inherent in our curriculum, nor the guidance of the Catholic faith,” said Director of College Relations Anne S. Forsyth. “As we celebrated the Feast of the great St. Patrick, it was a privilege to have with us a man who hails from the land of Allah but who has found his home in the Church of the Triune God.”


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“It is amazing to read all the different works from a wide range of disciplines, and see the same truth popping up again and again — whether it’s in Euclid, or theology, or natural science. It all comes together to form a full picture.”

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Redondo Beach, California

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Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles