Sohrab Ahmari Discusses His New Memoir: From Fire by Water

Courtesy of Emily Prendergast

By Thomas Holmes

Iranian-American journalist, editor and author Sohrab Ahmari told Catholic University students about his journey from Islam to Catholicism during a talk Tuesday at Heritage Hall.
The visit to the university, sponsored by the Busch School of Business, was part of his promotion of a new memoir, From Fire By Water.

The book details Ahmari’s transition from a young boy living in the strict, Islamic state of Iran, to a frustrated, young adult who did not believe in God. This lead him to his current situation as a grown man with a powerful Catholic faith.

“Catholicism is the perfect balance between grace and order,” Ahmari said.

Ahmari claims that the story should not be interpreted as him “heroically reasoning his way to faith” but rather it is his “response to grace.”

Ahmari has worked as a journalist and editor for several years. He has had his work published in the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He currently works as the op-ed editor of the New York Post and is a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald. He has now published two books: The New Philistines and From Fire by Water.

In his spiritual journey, Ahmari also examined Marxists beliefs, though abandoned that quote because “the marxists were insufferable.” He was able to find a balance between the legalism in Islam, and the freedom of Marxism through a Catholic faith.

After attending mass and being moved to tears, Ahmari began studying the catechesis in May, 2016 in order to be confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church. He never had any intention of making this process public until he heard of the attack made on a Catholic Church in Normandy, France. The terrorist attack resulted in the murder of priest Jacques Hamel. He was so moved by the incident that he took to twitter and announced his conversion to Catholicism with the hashtag: #IamJacquesHamel.

Ahmari’s lecture consisted of him walking students through his life as a coming to Christ journey. He began by explaining his roots in Iran and the way that growing up there shaped the way that he thought about God.

“God was all legalism, governing every dimension of life on one hand, and on the other, this same God required a police state that was so pliable with money,” said Ahmari about growing up in Iran. After he noticed this inconsistency in God’s character, Ahmari refused to believe in God which was a decision that would stay with him until he was a young adult.

When Ahmari moved to the United States, he began to read some modern philosophers including Nietzsche. He was fascinated by the freedom he felt with the claim that “God is dead.” For most of his life, he had agreed with this idea that there is no God, and the idea that morality was his to make gave him the authority he was looking for.

This lecture was part of a series of lectures put on by the Busch Business School to endorse Catholic leaders in the business world.

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