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.

Feeling comfort from the cross for the first time

There are some things you should know about me and Jesus.

I was twelve years old in 1964. On Good Friday of that year, I was just about ready to set out on my bike for the services at St. Rita’s Church when my mother mentioned in passing that Jesus wasn’t Catholic. What a shock!

If Jesus wasn’t Catholic, then why all the fuss about having Protestant friends? And why hadn’t anyone told me before that he was Jewish?

I felt like I had been scammed and now I’d have to recalibrate everything I knew and believed about Jesus and religion to that point. That Jesus wasn’t Catholic, or that he was Jewish, seemed like really important information to hold back over all my years of CCD classes When, exactly, was someone going to mention this?

I got over it as I matured and learned more about my faith and the scriptures but I still wonder that I never connected the dots. Or that no one realized in those days that kids needed help connecting the dots.

I have always appreciated the beauty of the crucifix, especially on an artistic level. But it was hard to connect with the image of Jesus on a personal level because Jesus’ death on the cross has always been about my sin and guilt and this irritated me.

Even as I listened to the Palm Sunday homily this week, I noticed that no matter how hard he tried to get to the idea of mercy, Father couldn’t get past the dominant connection between the crucifixion, sin, guilt, and reparation for salvation.

Continue reading here from NCR Feeling comfort from the cross for the first time

PS Today is Good Friday (I wrote the above earlier this week) and I remembered a scene from Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) that is very moving. Here Judah Ben-Hur’s mother and sister are cured of leprosy and Jesus’ blood is washed into a stream and beyond; the visuals alone wouldn’t be nearly a powerful without the musical score that speaks louder than words.

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