A Jesuit friend of mine told me that true conversion was merely an act of accepting responsibility. Interested, I pressed him for details: what did he mean by responsibility? At the time I was working as a chaplain with teenaged youth in juvenile lock-up facilities–preaching responsibility was my game. He went on to introduce me to the writings of the late Donald Gelpi, a fellow Jesuit theologian and philosopher with whom he was well acquainted. “Conversion” Gelpi writes, “is the decision to pass from irresponsible to responsible behavior in some distinguishable realm of human experience.” It was the kind of thing that really makes you raise your eyebrows. My brain, saturated with thoughts of K-Love and feelings of guilt, held the “old time conversion” in low esteem. But my heart could not shirk the simplicity of the offer–it was too powerful. That night I asked my roommate Mike, “When will I finally stop doing the things I don’t want to do, and start doing the things I do want to do?” He looked at me and pursed his lips. “When you decide to do them.”

Many thanks to Si Hendry, and for Donal Gelpi’s Committed Worship: A Sacramental Theology for Converting Christians


Adam Stoner is a Milwaukee area artist and painter who creates images that confront faith, doubt, and the human/divine mystery. Using scale, color, and simple gestures Adam’s work searches for an authentic theodicy within the holiness of small moments.