“In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed”

“In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed” March 20, 2024


Paris in the evening
A pre-fire view of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris from the Pont de la Tournelle, which is to say from the east southeast. The Quai de la Tournelle is visible on the left.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

Several years ago, before the devastating fire that severely damaged it on 15 April 2019, my wife and I spent a substantial portion of the day in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.  At one place, in the transept to the right of the nave near the southern rose window, we saw a plaque commemorating the conversion of the prominent French poet, playwright, and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955), eventually the recipient of multiple nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature:

Ici se convertit Paul Claudel.

In his precocious youth, Claudel had come under the influence of the agnosticism and atheism that were beginning to dominate French intellectual life.  He had even won a prize in school that had been personally awarded to him by Ernest Renan (1823-1892), the French scholar and writer who is most famous for his bestselling 1863 book Vie de Jésus, which, very controversially, had set out to “demythologize” the New Testament and to present Jesus as nothing but a mortal man.

However, Claudel was never fully satisfied with his life as an unbeliever.  He continued to read widely on religious subjects, overcoming many of his intellectual reservations but unable to feel any spiritual conviction.

On Christmas Day in 1886, when he was eighteen years of age, Claudel attended High Mass at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, celebrated by the city’s still relatively new archbishop. He wasn’t particularly moved by the liturgy.  But he later returned for vespers, the evening service. “It was the gloomiest winter day,” he later recalled, “and the darkest rainy afternoon over Paris.”

He listened patiently to the recitation of the psalms.  Then, as the cathedral choir was singing the Magnificat, something happened:

“In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed. I believed with such a strength of adherence, with such an uplifting of my entire being, with such powerful conviction, with such a certainty leaving no room for any kind of doubt, that since then all the books, all the arguments, all the incidents and accidents of a busy life have been unable to shake my faith, nor indeed to affect it in any way.”

As others also have, I find his account of what he himself called his “conversion” striking, and entirely understandable.  I hope that the plaque will still be there after the fire and the cathedral’s restoration.

Conversion comes in many ways.  Sometimes, as in the case of Paul Claudel, it comes as an immediate insight or intuition, transcending reason but not opposing it..

Rose Window south Notre Dame of Paris
The 13th-century south rose window of Notre Dame is somewhat less renowned than its northern counterpart. But it’s still rather nice.    (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

The Interpreter Foundation continues to spew out a steady stream of my trademark vituperation and bile.  Here are some of its latest volleys against decency, kindness, and human good:

Conference Talks: “The Word of My Power”: The Divine Word in the Book of Moses: 2020 Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference

Matthew L. Bowen spoke at the Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference on Saturday, September 19, 2020 about “‘The Word of My Power’: The Divine Word in the Book of Moses.” His paper frames the divine “word” as a narrative thread in Moses 1–8 that has implications for the nature of the Genesis material quoted in the Book of Mormon and the nature of parts of JST Genesis as restored text.

All of the conference presentations were filmed, and both video and audio recordings of each presentation are available. Videos, audio recordings and transcripts are available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2020-book-of-moses-conference/papers/. The videos are also available on the Interpreter Foundation YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/theinterpreterfoundation. A YouTube playlist is also available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRMn4gyXMWLv7A618LA-cCvxMqWRk8kxI.

Nibley Lectures: Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 13 “He Shall Rise … with Healing in His Wings” (Easter)

During 1988, 1989, and 1990, Hugh Nibley taught Honors Book of Mormon classes for four semesters at Brigham Young University. The lectures were video-taped and audio cassettes and printed transcripts were made of the lectures. We believe these recordings will be interesting to listen to and valuable to your Come, Follow Me study program this year. Each week, we will include the lectures covering the Book of Mormon chapters being studied that week.

This week, we divert from the Book of Mormon lectures to present a reading of Nibley’s talk on “Easter and the Prophets” from the 1954 radio series “Time Vindicates the Prophets.” This talk is available both as an audio recording below and in ePub, Kindle and hard cover versions of The World and the Prophets, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley Volume 3,” available at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Barnes & Noble.

All 112 Book of Mormon lectures are immediately available in PDF, audio, video, and electronic formats, as well as in paperback books that are available for purchase. Links for all of the available online sources can be found in the Complete Bibliography for Hugh Nibley at https://interpreterfoundation.org/bibliographies/hugh-w-nibley/lectures/.

The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 13: “He Shall Rise … with Healing in His Wings” (Easter)

During the 3 March 2024 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, discussants Hales Swift, Brent Schmidt, and Martin Tanner focused on Book of Mormon lesson 13, “He Shall Rise … with Healing in His Wings,” the lesson for Easter.

Delivered from commercial breaks, a recording of their conversation has now been made available online, at no charge, for your listening enjoyment.  The other segments of the 3 March 2024 radio program can be accessed at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreter-radio-show-march-3-2024.

Each and every week, the Interpreter Radio Show can be heard live on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  Or, if you prefer or if you live outside of the Salt Lake Valley, you can listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.

Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024): Lesson 13, March 25-31: Easter “He Shall Rise … with Healing in His Wings”

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.



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