Skip to Content
Search Icon
Issue 01 – Easter 2020


How I Joined The Resistance

On Mamaw and becoming Catholic


I often wonder what my grandmother—Mamaw, as I called her—would have thought about her grandson becoming Catholic. We used to argue about religion constantly. She was a woman of deep, but completely de-institutionalized, faith. She loved Billy Graham and Donald Ison, a preacher from her home in southeastern Kentucky. But she loathed “organized religion.” She often wondered aloud how the simple message of sin, redemption, and grace had given way to the televangelists on our early 1990s Ohio TV screen. “These people are all crooks and perverts,” she told me. “All they want is money.” But she watched them anyway, and they were the closest she usually came to regular church service, at least in Ohio. Unless she was back home in Kentucky, she rarely attended church. And if she did, it was usually to satisfy my early adolescent quest for some attachment to Christianity besides the 700 Club. 

Like many poor people, Mamaw rarely voted, seeing electoral politics as fundamentally corrupt. She liked F.D.R., Harry S. Truman, and that was about it. Unsurprisingly, a woman whose only political heroes had been dead for decades didn’t like politics as a matter of course and cared even less for the political drift of modern Protestantism. My first real exposure to an institutional church would come later, through my father’s large pentecostal congregation in southwestern Ohio. But I knew a few things about Catholicism well before then. I knew that Catholics worshipped Mary. I knew they rejected the legitimacy of Scripture. And I knew that the Antichrist—or at least, the Antichrists’s spiritual adviser—would be a Catholic. Or, at the time, I would have said, “is” a Catholic—as I felt pretty confident that the Antichrist walked among us.

You must or subscribe to read the rest of the article.

About the author

J. D. Vance

J. D. Vance is the New York Times bestselling author of Hillbilly Elegy.