The Painting above is by Italian artist Caravaggio – painted in the baroque style -depicting the “conversion of St Paul” – I don’t know how much you know about Paul, originally Saul of Tarsus, but he was a Roman citizen born in Tarsus (modern-day south-east Turkey) around 5 AD. He was a Jew who zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus and violently tried to destroy the newly-forming Christian Church.
Caravaggio’s painting depicts his conversion on the road to Damascus – in the painting Paul is struck to the ground, temporarily blinded by his experience of meeting the risen Jesus who asks him why he persecutes Him? You notice Paul’s sword by his side, his Roman-style garments flapping. Paul in the painting doesn’t know what’s happening – but oddly the horse does, it has its hoof raised in reflex to the change that is happening to Paul. I think it’s a fantastic painting – beautifully powerful.
I would class myself as a religious man, but I wasn’t always so. I’m a relatively young man at 32 and growing up through my 20s I went through what you could call a spiritual conversion. I went through a period of deep questioning; so much so that I almost bought into the atheistic world-view. Strangely though, in my case it was an atheist, in the form of my brother, who set me on a path which has changed my life.
My brother and I had an encounter one evening at a house party; we both had a few drinks and got into talking about God, (drink and God = recipe for disaster – I know, save the ridicule for later please). However, that exchange left me humbled and afraid, for it exposed in me that I knew precious little as to what I was talking about. That one exchange set me on a path of exploration and fact-finding. It culminated in a process that led me back to God.
Now the reason I’m writing this is because I’m sure a lot of people have had similar experience, whether that be a conversion to religious faith or a conversion to the atheistic faith or something even graver in my opinion, conversion from one football team to another!! (Surely not). There are bound to be many instances and examples where people can relate to this. However, what I’d like to tease out and explore is political conversion. Is it even possible?
In this corner of our beautiful planet we don’t really have/do “normal” politics. We are divided down religious grounds, more or less, and within this dichotomy there is further separation within the two main camps. We are hardly limited by choice, but keeping my examples of conversion in mind, has anyone had that St Paul moment where they realized they were on the “wrong side”? Do any of you readers have any doubts about your political party? Has anyone ever had their political path altered by the words or deeds of a “brother”? And finally; is the political evangelization of the non-voter possible, and if so how is it to be done?