Freddie (like many people, it seems) is critical of the reasons Ayaan Hirsi Ali has cited for her conversion to Christianity. I’m not. My view is that everyone has to start somewhere — she’s very forthright about being a newcomer to all this — and what matters is not where you start but where you end up. One person may seek a bulwark against relativism; another may long for architectural or linguistic or musical beauty; another may crave community. Christian life is a house with many entrances. I became a Christian because I fell head-over-heels for a Christian girl who wouldn’t date me otherwise, so how could I judge anyone else’s reasons for converting? As Rebecca West said, “There’s no such thing as an unmixed motive”; and God, as I understand things, is not the judge but the transformer of motives.
On the topic of reward for a mitzva fulfilled without intent, Rava raised a contradiction: It is written: “For Your mercy is great unto the heavens, and Your truth reaches the skies” (Psalms 57:11); and it is written elsewhere: “For Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches the skies” (Psalms 108:5). How so? How can these verses be reconciled? The Gemara explains: Here, where the verse says that God’s mercy is above the heavens, it is referring to a case where one performs a mitzva for its own sake; and here, where the verse says that God’s mercy reaches the heavens, it is referring to a case where one performs a mitzva not for its own sake. Even a mitzva performed with ulterior motives garners reward, as Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: A person should always engage in Torah study and performance of mitzvot, even if he does so not for their own sake, as through the performance of mitzvot not for their own sake, one gains understanding and comes to perform them for their own sake.
Those old rabbis, they knew a thing or two about human nature.