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The Bread of the StrongLacouturisme and the Folly of the Cross, 1910-1985$
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Jack Downey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265435

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265435.001.0001

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Onésime Lacouture and Conversion in the White Desert

Onésime Lacouture and Conversion in the White Desert

(p.53) 2 Onésime Lacouture and Conversion in the White Desert
The Bread of the Strong

Jack Lee Downey

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on Onésime Lacouture's conversion to an ascetic, mystical, and anti-intellectual prophetic Christianity in a frigid land that he would later call the White Desert of Alaska. It shows how the White Desert became an incubator for Lacouture's radical revivalist spirituality and paved the way for his belief that it was mainstreaming moderate Catholics who were the true pagans. The article first provides a background on Lacouture's early life and his romantic fixation on missionary conversions, along with his articulation of a “doctrine of samples.” It then discusses William James's Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh (1901–1902), published as The Varieties of Religious Experience, and its role in Dorothy Day's interpretation of her heart's movements as she gravitated toward Catholicism. It also considers Lacouture's appointment to the Holy Cross Mission and his eventual internal transformation in the White Desert. Finally, it examines how the teachings on renunciation, asceticism, and the hierarchy of affections influenced Lacouture's practical theology.

Keywords:   conversion, Onésime Lacouture, Christianity, White Desert, William James, Catholicism, Holy Cross Mission, asceticism, theology

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