Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-dc8c957cd-mn2s7 Total loading time: 0.493 Render date: 2022-01-28T12:45:08.947Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

2 - Religion: Christianity and Catholicism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 August 2018

Get access

Summary

FLANNERY O'CONNOR always insisted that she was first and foremost a Christian in general and a Catholic in particular. She admired fundamentalist Protestants because she believed they had worked their way independently toward a kind of Christianity quite close to orthodox Catholicism: they were almost Catholics but were just outside the Catholic Church. She saw their alleged religious shortcomings but admired their profound commitment to Christ—a commitment she shared. It has been argued that O'Connor's works cannot be fully understood except as Christian writings. To say this, however, is not to say that O'Connor wrote pious propaganda. She despised sentimental Christian writers and writings. She also disdained Christian works that were too clearly designed to win souls. Instead, she wanted her own Christian fiction to be tough-minded and honest. It should face sin's grim realities and mock human pride. It should suggest—not preach—Christ as the only answer in a fallen, corrupt world. Some commentators have endorsed her own Christian view of her works. Others have suggested that this view fails to do full justice to the works themselves. Some critics find her theology unappealing; others argue that her writings are well worth reading even if one rejects her Christian premises.

Issac Rosenfeld, reviewing Wise Blood in 1952, was one of the first critics to find O'Connor's religious emphasis unappealing, or at least inept. “There is,” Rosenfeld wrote, “an unfortunate tendency among religious writers to take everything as grist for the mill; and this is particularly unfortunate when, as in Miss O'Connor's novel, the extremely important distinction between religious striving and mania is ground away” (19). Rosenfeld saw Hazel Motes not as a sympathetic religious quester but as quite literally crazy:

Now I don't see how one can maintain that his madness lies in the effort to deny Christ, for he is wholly mad. Nor can one argue that this is what happens to all men, Protestants included, who deny Christ, for it certainly does not. How then can one take his predicament seriously? With pity, yes, sympathy, aversion, fear—all the emotions the insane call out apply in Motes’ case, but he is nothing more than the poor, sick, ugly, raving lunatic that he happens to be. If one takes him to be a valid representative of the religious mind, one might as well say openly that all religious people are crazy. (19)

Type
Chapter
Information
The Critical Reception of Flannery O'Connor, 1952–2017
“Searchers and Discoverers”
, pp. 114 - 148
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×