Joseph Pearce puts everything out there for the world to see in his latest book Race With the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love. His story from racial hatred to Catholic convert is one you have to read to believe. In the end, after reading this book, you will understand that anyone can change at any time in their life, which gives us all hope.
The book detail show in his teens Joseph became heavily involved in the group the National Front, to which he belonged for many years. This group was founded in 1967 and is a white supremacist group opposed to any “non-white” or “coloured” immigrants in Britain.
Joseph played a key role in the spread of racial hatred throughout Britain. He was the founder and editor of the magazine Bulldog. His magazine experienced huge sales through various venues. It was a case of both feeding off each other. Bulldog served as a contributor to the culture of hatred while those involved in the culture helped drive magazine sales up. In the book he also details his fringe involvement with the unrest in Ireland and his membership in the anti-Catholic “Orange Order” during the years prior to his conversion. Throughout the entire book, however, you can sense his regret for his actions and multiple times he apologizes. I offer the following quote from the book.
“I am reminded also that my own descent into the nasty world of racial hatred was not motivated primarily by hatred but by a disordered and perverted love for my own country and people. The animus of the political creed to which I subscribed was not animosity towards aliens but a love of my own people, albeit a love that became an idol, a false god that I worshiped at the expense of my own spiritual wellbeing.”
On January 12, 1982, at the age of 20, Joseph was convicted and sentenced to 6 months in prison for publishing material likely to incite racial hatred, a hate crime under Britain’s Race Relations Act. This would not be his last time in prison however this is where things started to change for Joseph and his conversion story begins.
An avid reader, Joseph dove into the works of G.K. Chesterton, more so for his political views than religious reasons. The amazing thing is the more he read, he was unknowingly being called to a new understanding of life and Christian values. After reading multiple works of Chesterton, Joseph turned his attention to CS Lewis. Joseph explains it best:
“In reading Lewis’s Mere Christianity as in reading Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, I learned that the Christian creed might possibly provide the very credentials for truth itself. I reading Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, as in reading Chesterton’s The man Who was Thursday, I began to perceive the sense to be found in suffering, and in reading A Grief Observed I saw the abstract arguments about suffering become incarnate in Lewis’s own pain at losing his wife. In Narnia, as in Chesterton’s Manalive and his Father Brown stories, I discovered the wonder of remaining child-like, and the wisdom that springs from this wonder-filled innocence…… In reading the works of Lewis and Chesteron, and in the enjoyment of their company, I had unknowingly crossed the threshold of hope and entered Aslan’s country”
On December 12, 1985, Joseph was once again charged with publishing material deemed likely to incite racial hatred. For his second offense, he was sentenced to twelve months prison. He entire sentence was to be served in solitary confinement. He spent his time consuming more books. Among other volumes, the prison library is also where he discovered and fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. When he left prison at the completion of this sentence he left a changed man. Joseph realized he had to separate himself from his political family. In a few years his conversion would be complete in 1989 when he would be received into the Catholic Church.
Though the story of Joseph Pearce is undoubtedly unique it is one I feel we can all learn from. Christ is always waiting to welcome anyone into his Church. There is always hope for someone no matter how bad their actions are or how hopeless you may feel about them. God does amazing things and the gentle tugs that Joseph felt can be experienced by anyone. If Joseph Pearce can move from racial hatred to rational love, anyone can come back to God.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review from the publisher Saint Benedict Press.