Parallel Conversions: Charismatics and Recovered Alcoholics by Joseph H. Fichter

This is a pretty interesting read for anyone in sobriety and with a new found faith.

‘Father Fichter, professor of sociology at Loyola University of the South, New Orleans, is the author of The Catholic Cult of the Paraclete (Sheed & Ward, 1975) and a yet-to-be-published study of more than 400 alcoholic clergymen. This article appeared in the Christian Century, February 18, 1976, pp. 148-150. Copyright by The Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.’

The following excerpt is written by Joseph H. Fichter;

Something happens to the converted alcoholic or the converted charismatic that brings about change, sometimes a quick illumination, but often a rather gradual and increasingly insistent spiritual awakening. The spiritual conversion experienced by both of these groups is intended to carry the individual along in a “new” way of life, and it does for those who stay with it.


A spiritual conversion is an interior experience, a decision for Christ, a change of heart, a turning of the mind away from vice and toward virtue, a relinquishing of the past and an embrace of the future. Something “happens” to people who are converted, as it did to Saul on the road to Damascus, and often this “happening” is not a personal choice. What the Protestant Pentecostals have been saying for a long time is now occurring among Catholic charismatics; in the words of one of their national leaders: “I am involved because I believe that God has touched me and that I have responsibilities as a result of that touch and call.”

One has only to attend a large charismatic prayer meeting, or read the pages of New Covenant, to learn, of first-person testimony of conversion. Reports a priest: “I felt as if God took off the top of my head and poured his peace into me and that simultaneously all the junk of my past life was draining out of my feet.” Comments a young woman: “For me the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a particular moment in my life; a moment when all time seemed to stand still and I truly felt the presence of the reality of Christ.”

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