October 01, 2006

Flannery O'Connor in the Age of Terrorism

I'll be giving a paper at a conference this weekend in Grand Rapids, MI at Grand Valley State U.  The conference is uncannily titled, "Flannery O'Connor in the Age of Terrorism"  Fits right in with what I've been writing about.

Tonight I sat down to make sure I know what I'm going to say.  As usual, I started reading another book instead: Archbishop of Cantebury, Rowan Williams' book of essays, Grace and Necessity.  His chapter on Flannery O'Connor is perhaps the best thing I've ever read concerning her work that treats her Catholicity as the reason for her consistently soul shaking brilliance, instead of pointing to it as her tragic flaw.

Williams points out that the irony famously associated with her work can hardly be helped.  The irony in her work is the greatest irony: Humans made in the image and likeness of God yet tend toward evil.

I'll be talking about this irony and its relationship to Grace--the notion that God extends invitations to deeper intimacy with Him through unexpected encounters.  Because it is inevitable that Humans tend toward evil, irony, although unhinging, should not be looked to as an end in itself, but as a surface indication of a deeper spiritual disturbance--a starting point rather than impasse.  

This is what it means for art to empower depth of sight.

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