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.

BRAVE and nine more reviews at “Sister Rose Goes to the Movies”

For reviews of BRAVE, Madagascar 3, MEN IN BLACK 3, The Avengers, CHIMPANZEE, Dark Shadows, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, Battleship, and THE LUCKY ONE click on Sister Rose Goes to the Movies.

Sister Rose’s blog reaches 500,000 hits today

Since I moved my blog to WordPress on October 5, 2008 I never dreamed of 500.000 hits or page views. In this day of YouTube videos getting a million hits in a day or an hour, this half million in three years eight months, an average of 300 hits a day with 2,900 in one day in 2010, does not seem like much in the virtual scheme of things. Yet it provides me with a motive of thanksgiving for the Internet and the gift of communication between God’s people the world over and who knows? Maybe the universe. (We don’t know who might be listening, do we?)

WordPress sent me an analysis of that best day: March 9, 2010

Thank you for your visit, your time, your interest. Be assured of my prayers.

 

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

 

 

Why Flannery O’Connor Matters Today

On the season finale last year of ABC’s hit drama “Lost,” alert viewers would have noticed that the mysterious character, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), was reading the book Everything That Rises Must Converge. The tome is a collection of short stories by the American Catholic novelist, Flannery O’Connor who was born in Savannah, Ga. March 25, 1925 and died from lupus in Milledgeville, Ga., outside of Atlanta in 1964.

The book’s title story is about an arrogant young man, Julian, whose bigoted mother cajoles him into accompanying her downtown to her weight loss class because it is evening and she doesn’t want to go alone in the newly integrated South. Things become tense when an African-American mother and son get on the bus, the mother wearing the exact same outlandish purple hat as Julian’s mother. Julian tries to teach his mother a lesson that the world is different now and she must change. His meanness results in tragedy and he races for help for his mother who collapses. O’Connor ends the tale with, “The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow.”

The book’s title is a quote from “Omega Point” by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who was one of O’Connor’s great influences. For Chardin, the transcendent “omega point” is where the complexity and consciousness of the universe is heading and from whence it originated. O’Connor’s short story applies Chardin’s idea to changing racial realities and attitudes in the American south by the convergence — or collision — of two mother and son pairs, one white and one black. In “Lost,” the appearance of Jacob, the ever-young and seemingly all-knowing authority figure, wakes an unconscious man, and is a signal that things are beginning to converge for the characters; their redemption is at hand, we hope.

Convergence is just one of O’Connor’s favorite themes; in fact it could be argued that the image of literary unity it conjures up could characterize her entire body of work. All her stories are constructed on the idea of sin, grace, and redemption. The sacramental emerges through unexpected encounters, misfits and misplaced persons, journeys, body-parts, the grotesque, dark humor, and violence that are among her mysterious tropes, motifs and symbols.

But who was Flannery O’Connor, does she still matter, and why is Hollywood interested?

Click here for the rest of the NCR article and my interview with screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald Teaching a chicken to walk backwards Why Flannery O’Connor matters today