I know we’ve posted a number of responses to Leithart over the past several weeks, but his work is actually quite interesting and (we think) worthy of response. If anything, we respond out of respect for someone who’s engaging in his theology.
Time was when a Protestant convert to Rome was considered edgy and shocking. Now it's a fad, and the cool, edgy thing to do is to stay put.— Peter Leithart (@PLeithart) July 25, 2012
I somewhat cynically read this as both a denunciation of conversion for the sake of edginess and following a fad and an endorsement of the new, edgy fad: “stay[ing] put.”
Maybe my sample size is really, really small, but I honestly haven’t yet met a convert to Rome (or Orthodoxy, one must also assume) who’s done it to be “edgy and shocking.” I’m sure there are some out there, to be sure, but just about every voice lifted in articulation of such a conversion is not one of rebellion or slavish fad-following. Rather, these converts actually seem to believe they’ve found the true Christian faith.
In any event, I think Leithart’s also got a sampling problem going on. Most converts—statistically—away from Protestantism to one of the historic communions convert because they’re marrying someone who’s already a member. They also don’t tend to talk much about it.
But even if one were only to look at those who convert out of personal conviction rather than marital reasons, there are hardly enough actually happening to qualify them as a “fad.” Indeed, if anything, the fad is to “stay put,” because people really do tend to dislike change, even religious change.