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Discovering the Church in Harvard Yard

A "POSITIVELY BIZARRE" CONVERSION

By John C. Cort | November 1987
John C. Cort is a 1935 honors graduate of Harvard College. He has worked as a reporter, editor, union organizer, and Peace Corps and antipoverty official. He has been widely published, with over 200 articles and reviews in publications such as The Progressive and The Nation. The father of 10 children, he is currently a writer whose history of Christian socialism is forthcoming from Orbis Books. The above article is adapted from The New Catholics edited by Dan O'Neill (released by Crossroad this month).

Love was the thing that got me started. My first intimation of the joy and anguish that lay ahead came one night in the summer of 1926. We were all over at the Hardies’ cottage on Bluff Island for some kind of party. I was standing alone against the wall watching the dancing. More specifically, I was watching Flora Hardie, a dark-haired girl from New Orleans, dancing in the flickering light of kerosene lamps.

I concluded I must be in love. Since I had never been in love before, this was an arresting thought. A powerful force within was moving me to ask Flora Hardie to dance.

On the other hand, there were countervailing forces and considerations that palsied my will. One, I was only 12 years old and Flora was 17. Two, she was a lot taller than I. Three, I did not know how to dance. And so I stood pinned against the wall, paralyzed by indecision. I never asked Flora Hardie to dance, never saw her again after that summer, never even moped very much. After all, it is difficult to sustain romantic melancholy at age 12.

Nevertheless, in some curious way I conceived in my mind a hopelessly idealized concept of the woman I wanted. The formula was simple: perfection – a beautiful mind and a beautiful soul in a beautiful body.

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