Tag: Flannery O'Connor

Federal Government Admits Catholicism is True

Well, not really, but indirectly, through PBS’ Flannery O’Connor documentary

I greatly enjoyed PBS documentary, American Masters: Flannery O’Connor, on PBS last night.

I thought the producers respected her intense Catholicism. I’m sure they could’ve found critics to say sacrilegious things like, “Her dark humor emanates from a religion based on a Jew who had a bad afternoon,” but they didn’t. Her Catholicism came up frequently but always as a fact, never as a jab.

There were two forays into her correspondence with a bisexual and a lesbian (couldn’t leave those things out), but I didn’t interpret either as an attempt to portray Flannery as a repressed lesbian, and I’m sure they could’ve found critics to say things like, “Her dark humor emanates from her nascent lesbianism birthed from her Catholicism,” but they didn’t.… Read the rest

Dostoyevsky and Flannery O’Connor Reveal Something Ironic about Our Modern World

Essences become meaningless in both a perfect and marred world.

In one of his last works before his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.

The Dream

In this story, the narrator goes to another solar system and lands on a planet where the inhabitants are people just like us, but untainted by the Fall in the Garden of Eden. They live, the narrator tells us:

“In the same paradise as that in which . . . our parents lived before they sinned.”

But the narrator, being a fallen man, corrupts the inhabitants:

“Like the germ of a plague infecting whole kingdoms, I corrupted them all.”

They then begin to act like us on earth. In the words of Russian literature professor Arthur Trace:

“They invent morality because now there was immorality; they make a virtue of shame, whereas before they had no need for shame; they invent the concept of honor because now there is such a thing as dishonor; they invent justice because now there is injustice; and they invent brotherhood and friendship because there is hatred.”

Arthur Trace, Furnace of Doubt (1988), 24.

In short, on the unfallen planet, there was no virtue or morality because there was no vice or immorality in contrast. There was no distinction between bad and good.

It was a morally-existentialist world: no essences; just existence.

I fear we’ve reached a similar point in our culture, where the moral essences, like bad and good, no longer carry meaning. But it’s not because we’re the perfect planet of the Ridiculous Man. I fear it’s because we’ve deviated so far from that perfect planet that we’ve come full circle to a similar situation.

This is the point of Flannery O’Connor’s fiction.… Read the rest

Where Did Modern Catholic Literature Go?

writer working on typewriter in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The twentieth century saw a lot of great Catholic literature. Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy are the most-immediate examples, but there are others, like Sheila Bosworth and Shusako Endo.

Did it disappear after 1980s?

I’m afraid it did, at least as a literary form that had mass-market appeal. There are plenty of popular authors out there who are Catholic, some are serious Catholics, but they’re not writing Catholic literature.

O’Connor and Percy first and foremost told stories, but the stories were laced with a Catholic worldview.

I don’t think you can say that about any of the popular Catholic authors today. Every piece of literature contains at least a little Catholicism (Catholicism is universal; if a story is true, good or beautiful, it’s Catholic to some extent), but you’re going to have to plunge deep to pull the Catholicism out of, say, a Dean Koontz book.

So, is there no Catholic literature today?

Yes there is, and it appears Angelico Press is bringing it out. Consider, for instance, this collection of short stories: In the Wine Press, which is briefly reviewed here.

The reviewer says the “book is an important marker for Catholic fiction. The airy moment of ‘beauty will save the world’ is over. The world is more hideous than we imagine, and only the wrath of God, which is a function of his love, will save it.”

I’m not a huge fan of fiction, but this book has me a bit tempted. … Read the rest