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.

Sympathy for Delicious: Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut

Dean O’Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is an aspiring DJ known as “Delicious D” on the Los Angeles underground music scene. A motorcycle accident leaves him in a wheel chair and he ends up sleeping in his car on Skid Row.

Fr. Joe (Mark Ruffalo) ministers to the homeless by organizing and serving meals and finding temporary housing shelter for those who will accept it. The priest notes how depressed the young man is and brings him to a healing service where people are “slain in the spirit.” Dean is skeptical but inexplicably he discovers he has the power to heal others. It is very confusing and a lot to take in.

Thornton and Ruffalo in "Sympathy for Delicious" that opens today in NY, LA and DC on May 5.

Meanwhile Dean, now a minor celebrity, joins a rock band and decides to market his abilities as a healer. This is not out of compassion. It seems an almost passive-aggressive reaction to God’s caring for others but not for him. Fr. Joe advises against this, but must confront his own personal faith issues as he tries to guide others. When Dean’s healing abilities fail when they are needed most, he is forced to confront his demons and accept the fact that sometimes the healing you get from God is what you need, not what you want.

Click here to continue reading

For locations and times click here

Shutter Island

I saw this film yesterday and it haunts me still, not because it is a psychological thriller but because of how it questions the essence of what it is to be human and who has the power to define humanity and the human condition.

A friend suggested that I look at it through the lens of Flannery O’Connor. I am still pondering this but after seeing the film, I think it is a valid and rich approach. Watch this space.

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