Listening to Flannery O’Connor

I was chatting with an acquaintance recently about Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964) when he told me about a recent find and that it is available on the Internet.

In January 2012 “Deep South” online magazine  editor Erin Z. Bass wrote: “Professor of English with a focus on Southern lit and women’s studies at UL Lafayette, Dr. Mary Ann Wilson was cleaning out her office and came across an old audio reel labeled ‘Flannery O’Connor.’ It turned out to be a recording of the author’s 1962 lecture at the university and is one of the few of her voice that exists.”

To access Flannery O’Connor reading her essay “Some aspects of the grotesque in southern fiction” click here and follow the links.  There are also links to a lecture she gave at Notre Dame University in 1957 as well as her reading her short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

Flannery O’Connor is a beacon of light and sanity in the contested world of art and theology. “Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable,” O’Connor said. “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” (“The fiction writer and his country” in Mystery & Manners: Occasional Prose, 1970)

According to Bass’ blog the University of Louisiana Lafayette is planning a symposium on Flannery O’Connor in November to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her visit there.

The Cinema of Adoption


To go along with National Adoption Month in the US, here is a link to my column On Faith and Media in St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

Some of the movies I talk about are Secrets and Lies, Juno, Heaven on Earth, Daughter of Danang, Superman, etc.




Religious Education Congress 2011: A vibrant human mosaic

The labyrinth


ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Ask anyone who participated in the Religious Education Congress March 17-20 how they would describe the event in terms of art, and they will tell you: It’s the people. Ask author/speaker Jesuit Fr. James Martin and he will tell you that the congress — not Disneyland across the street — is the happiest place on earth.

Charity Sr. Edith Prendergast, who heads the Los Angeles archdiocese’s Office for Religious Education, told me that she loves the congress for its poetry and beauty. “It is an authentic expression of the life of the church and people come to be enriched.”

At the opening ceremony, people from various cultures and costumes processed in the arena that holds 6,000; there was a lovely liturgical dance, and the music and singing engaged everyone. Prendergast presented our new archbishop, José H. Gomez, “the chief catechist of the archdiocese,” with the illuminated Gospels and Acts of the Apostles from the St. John’s Bible from Liturgical Press. After Gomez opened the congress in prayer, he introduced Prendergast. When she got to the lectern to give her presentation, she said, “You will hear from the archbishop later.” Then she paused and turned back to the archbishop and said, “That is, if it’s OK with you.” It brought down the house.

Click here for the entire article: Religious Education Congress 2011: A vibrant human mosaic.

Mirtha Vespi talks about Congress and Magnificat Ministries



The Labyrinth: Freedom & Forgiveness Retreat October 30 in SoCAL

For more information about the film The Labyrinth

and an interview with producer Jason Smith The Labyrinth Interview

Ron Schmidt, SJ

Singers, Architects, Painters to Gather in Sistine Chapel with Pope


On the 10th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists, Pope Benedict is meeting with artists: Singers, Architects, Painters to Gather in Sistine Chapel


Pianist Pope to Meet With Artists 

I look forward to reading what transpires!



United Breaks Guitars or How to find justice through non-violence and art

This YouTube video is the hottest since Susan Boyle. I used it in my media literacy education class to show how people can achieve justice through non-violence and art.

Dave Carroll, whose guitar United broke, made this statement after United Air Lines reached out to him to rectify the situation (after 2 days and over 150,000 hits on YouTube, now over 3 million in about 3 weeks).

St. Paul: Oldest image discovered


It is the oldest icon” says L’Osservatore Romano

(However, it seems no one has yet been able to take a photo of it. As soon as one makes it to the Internet, I will post it.)

Icon of St. Paul by Andrei Rublev late 14th early 15th century

Icon of St. Paul by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev late 14th early 15th century (not the one discovered in Rome)

Chapel of Violence against Women in Our Lady of Angels Cathedral March 2009

The Chapel of Violence Against Women from the art of J. Michael Walker

The Chapel of Violence Against Women from the art of J. Michael Walker

The Cathedral here in LA had a side chapel (temporary) called THE CHAPEL OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN set up in March (as well as several other chapels, all with the amazing art of J. Michael Walker.)  

There was a poster on the wall that impressed me and it quoted something called “Corrido de Santa Susana”:

 “The years pass, yet there are men  who do not understand that women also have the right to live as they choose, and to think and believe as they see fit.”


If anyone happens to know what the “Corrido de Santa Susana” is or where I can find it in its entirety, please let me know.

 I googled it, both the name and the quote, but nothing came up.

Here is J. Michael Walker’s website and the recent exhibitions at the Our Lady of Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles

If you love Los Angeles and art, you will love his work.

All the Saints of Los Angeles website

The Soloist – the Movie


What an outstanding film. As you can see, this poster was issued for the planned release for last year, but the film just opened in the USA on Friday. Great poster, though.

This is a movie about humanity, heart, friendship, art, grace, goodness, against the backdrop of acute homelessness in a city and country where you would think we would care more for one another.

Robert Downey, jr. plays Steve Lopez, a columnist for the LA Times, who encounters Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man playing a two stringed violin in a downtown traffic tunnel. They become friends even though Nathaniel is mentally ill and Lopez has to feel his way along as the best way to relate to Nathaniel. The thing is, Lopez never gives up. He is a friend to Nathaniel.  Jamie Foxx plays Nathaniel. Both performances soar off the screen.

Susannah Grant wrote the script, and I loved it. She also wrote Erin Brockovich. Grant knows her way around social issues and tells stories of injustice in ways that make us want to do something rather than just feel guilty.

Thought the cinematography was really fine.

 I first “met” Steve Lopez when I came to Los Angeles in 2002 and Sister Frances told me what a great writer he is and that I would want to read what he has to say. He’s smart and funny and he sees things other people don’t – and has the guts and grace to say it.

This is true.

This is a film not to be missed and it asks, as so many Hollywood – whether big studio or independent – films do: what difference can I make? Longer review to come ….

SIGNIS To Hold First Film Jury at a US Festival – Filmfest DC


SIGNIS To Hold First Film Jury at a US Festival – Filmfest DC

Washington DC, April 15, 2009 (SIGNIS) – SIGNIS is holding its first international film Jury at an American film festival, Filmfest DC, in Washington, DC. The Jury will begin with the festival opening on April 16, 2009, culminating in the awarding of the SIGNIS Prize on April 26. The award will honour the film that the SIGNIS Jury selects as best celebrating human values in a diverse and challenging world.

 The SIGNIS award comes to Filmfest DC with a strong international tradition that includes jury awards at all major European film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin, and with juries seated at festivals in a total of 30 countries around the world. “We’re pleased to welcome SIGNIS to our festival,” says Filmfest DC Director Tony Gittens, “and to have the opportunity to add this prestigious award to those we currently present.”

SIGNIS has been organizing festival juries since 1947, at that time acting under the name International Catholic Organization for Cinema. By its presence in the professional cinema world, SIGNIS seeks to contribute in a concrete way to the development of a cinema aimed towards human and spiritual values.

Filmfest DC is in it’s 23rd year, having experienced continued growth during that time. This year’s festival includes more than 70 films from around the world, including world premieres, DC premieres, international headliners and award winners, and Official Foreign Language Film Oscar® Selections. This year’s festival has a special focus on films from Eastern Europe and Japan.”“SIGNIS is excited about this new partnership with Filmfest DC,” says Frank Frost, SIGNIS Jury chair. “We have wanted to bring the SIGNIS international cinema prize to the United States, and Filmfest DC is the perfect venue for one of our juries, because the participating films that are chosen reflect a wide range of human and spiritual values.”

In addition to Frost, an award-winning documentary producer who represents the United States affiliate of SIGNIS, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, the other Jury members for the new SIGNIS award include Australian Rev. Peter Malone, MSC, head of the SIGNIS film desk, chair of many SIGNIS and Ecumenical juries at Cannes and other European festivals, and author of several books on film and spirituality; and Marjorie Suchocki, Professor Emerita from Claremont School of Theology, Director of the Whitehead Film Festival, and author of multiple books on theology and film.

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