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Author Topic: The Philosophy of Flannery O'Connor  (Read 3638 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: January 11, 2012, 07:49:20 PM »

I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors:




"When the Protestant hears what he supposes to be the voice of the Lord, he follows it regardless of whether it runs counter to his church's teaching. The Catholic believes any voice he may hear comes from the Devil unless it is in accordance with the teachings of the Church."


"This notion that grace is healing omits the fact that before it heals, it cuts with the sword Christ said He came to bring."


"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally."


“I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming into endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it, but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.”


“Let me tell you this: faith comes and goes. It rises and falls like the tides of an invisible ocean. If it is presumptuous to think that faith will stay with you forever, it is just as presumptuous to think that unbelief will.”


“If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and emotional release and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that He cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal Himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention.”


“Faith is a gift, but the will has a great deal to do with it.”


“Father Lynch was much interested in Dorothy Day, only he couldn’t see why she fed endless lines of endless bums for whom there was no hope. She’d never see any results from that, he said. All I can conclude about this is that charity is not understandable.”


“I believe what the Church teaches – that God has given us reason to use and that it can lead us toward a knowledge of Him, through analogy; that He has revealed Himself in history and continues to do so through the Church, and that he is present (not just symbolically) in the Eucharist on our altars. To believe all this I don’t take any leap into the absurd. I find it reasonable to believe, even though these beliefs are beyond reason.”


“You will have found Christ when you are concerned with other people’s suffering and not your own.”


“There are some of us who have to pay for our faith every step of the way and who have to work out dramatically what it would be like without it and if being without it would ultimately be possible or not.”


"For my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws... The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature."


"I am wondering why you convict me of believing in the use of force? It must be because you connect the Church with a belief in the use of force; but the Church is a mystical body which cannot, does not, believe in the use of force (in the sense of forcing conscience, denying the rights of conscience, etc.). I know all her hair-raising history, of course, but principle must be separated from policy. Policy and politics generally go contrary to principle. I am in principle don not believe in the use of force, but I might well find myself using it, in which case I would have to convict myself of sin. I believe and the Church teaches that God is as present in the idiot boy as in the genius.”


“If you live today you breathe in nihilism. In or out of the Church, it’s the gas you breathe. If I hadn’t had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.”


“When I ask myself how I know I believe, I have no satisfactory answer at all, no assurance at all, no feeling at all. I can only say with Peter, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief.’ And all I can say about my love of God, is, Lord help me in my lack of it.”


“Satisfy your demand for reason always, but remember that love is beyond reason, and that God can be known through love.”


“I do not suggest that science is unreliable, but only that we can’t judge God by the limits of our knowledge of natural things.”


“Some people, when they lose their faith in Christ, substitute a swollen faith in themselves.”


“God became not only a man, but Man. This is the mystery of Redemption and our salvation is worked out on earth according as we love one another, see Christ in one another, etc., by works. This is one reason I am wary of using the word ‘love’ loosely. I prefer to use it in its practical forms, such as prayer, almsgiving, visiting the sick and burying the dead and so forth.”


“When I call myself a Catholic with a modern consciousness I don’t mean what might be implied by the phrase ‘modern Catholic,’ which doesn’t make sense. If you’re a Catholic you believe what the Church teaches and the climate makes no difference.”


“I won’t say ‘the poor,’ because I don’t like to distinguish them. Everybody, as far as I am concerned, is The Poor.”


“‘Accepting oneself’ does not preclude an attempt to become better. It is, in fact, primary to that effort as the Church has always taught. Self-torture is abnormal; asceticism is not.”


“I never completely forget myself except when I am writing, and I am never more completely myself than when I am writing. It is the same with Christian self-abandonment. The great difference between Christianity and the Asian religions is the Christian insistence on the fulfillment of the individual person.”


“It may be that a writer can sentimentalize certain segments of the population and get away with it, but he cannot sentimentalize the poor and get away with it.”


“I find myself in a world where everybody has his compartment, puts you in yours, shuts the door and departs. One of the awful things about writing when you are a Christian is that for you the ultimate reality is the Incarnation, the present reality is the Incarnation, and nobody believes in the Incarnation; that is, nobody in your audience. My audience are the people who think God is dead. At least these are the people I am conscious of writing for. As for Jesus being a realist: if He was not God, He was no realist, only a liar, and the crucifixion an act of justice.”


“Dogma can in no way limit a limitless God. The person outside of the Church attaches a different meaning to it than the person in it. For me a dogma is only a gateway to contemplation and is an instrument of freedom and not of restriction. It preserves mystery for the human mind.”


“I am not a mystic and I do not pretend to lead a holy life. Not that I can claim any interesting or pleasurable sins (my sense of the devil is strong) but I know all about the garden variety: pride, gluttony, envy and sloth, and what is more to the point, my virtues are as timid as my vices. I think sin occasionally brings one closer to God, but not habitual sin and not this petty kind that blocks every small good. A working knowledge of the devil can be very well had from resisting him.”


"The only force I believe in is prayer."


“I distrust pious phrases, particularly when the issue from my mouth. I try militantly never to be affected by the pious language of the faithful, but it is always coming out when you least expect it. In contrast to the pious language of the faithful, the Liturgy is beautifully flat.”


"Unadaptability is often a virtue. My standard is: when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville."




Selam

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"There are two great tragedies: one is to live a life ruled by the passions, and the other is to live a passionless life."
Selam, +GMK+
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2012, 08:35:32 PM »

Thank you, GMK! 
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 08:39:52 PM »

Read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" for English before Christmas break and loved it. She wrote some good and frankly disturbing fiction that delved into strong Christian themes without making the sort of simple black and white drivel that I generally think of when I hear about "Christian fiction." Plus, all the time I spend on time reading about theology on the internet instead of doing homework wound up helping me with my homework, since I got to use fancy words when describing the story's themes. Her philosophy is pretty much straight Thomism, with whatever good and bad things that may imply to you.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 08:40:11 PM by That person » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2012, 05:34:07 AM »

You are always such a pleasant surprise!  Put me on an island with a bible, and the complete Flannery O'Conner, Dorothy Sayers and Emily Dickenson and I'd be content.   Wink

I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors:




"When the Protestant hears what he supposes to be the voice of the Lord, he follows it regardless of whether it runs counter to his church's teaching. The Catholic believes any voice he may hear comes from the Devil unless it is in accordance with the teachings of the Church."


"This notion that grace is healing omits the fact that before it heals, it cuts with the sword Christ said He came to bring."


"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally."


“I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming into endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it, but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.”


“Let me tell you this: faith comes and goes. It rises and falls like the tides of an invisible ocean. If it is presumptuous to think that faith will stay with you forever, it is just as presumptuous to think that unbelief will.”


“If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and emotional release and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that He cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal Himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention.”


“Faith is a gift, but the will has a great deal to do with it.”


“Father Lynch was much interested in Dorothy Day, only he couldn’t see why she fed endless lines of endless bums for whom there was no hope. She’d never see any results from that, he said. All I can conclude about this is that charity is not understandable.”


“I believe what the Church teaches – that God has given us reason to use and that it can lead us toward a knowledge of Him, through analogy; that He has revealed Himself in history and continues to do so through the Church, and that he is present (not just symbolically) in the Eucharist on our altars. To believe all this I don’t take any leap into the absurd. I find it reasonable to believe, even though these beliefs are beyond reason.”


“You will have found Christ when you are concerned with other people’s suffering and not your own.”


“There are some of us who have to pay for our faith every step of the way and who have to work out dramatically what it would be like without it and if being without it would ultimately be possible or not.”


"For my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws... The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature."


"I am wondering why you convict me of believing in the use of force? It must be because you connect the Church with a belief in the use of force; but the Church is a mystical body which cannot, does not, believe in the use of force (in the sense of forcing conscience, denying the rights of conscience, etc.). I know all her hair-raising history, of course, but principle must be separated from policy. Policy and politics generally go contrary to principle. I am in principle don not believe in the use of force, but I might well find myself using it, in which case I would have to convict myself of sin. I believe and the Church teaches that God is as present in the idiot boy as in the genius.”


“If you live today you breathe in nihilism. In or out of the Church, it’s the gas you breathe. If I hadn’t had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.”


“When I ask myself how I know I believe, I have no satisfactory answer at all, no assurance at all, no feeling at all. I can only say with Peter, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief.’ And all I can say about my love of God, is, Lord help me in my lack of it.”


“Satisfy your demand for reason always, but remember that love is beyond reason, and that God can be known through love.”


“I do not suggest that science is unreliable, but only that we can’t judge God by the limits of our knowledge of natural things.”


“Some people, when they lose their faith in Christ, substitute a swollen faith in themselves.”


“God became not only a man, but Man. This is the mystery of Redemption and our salvation is worked out on earth according as we love one another, see Christ in one another, etc., by works. This is one reason I am wary of using the word ‘love’ loosely. I prefer to use it in its practical forms, such as prayer, almsgiving, visiting the sick and burying the dead and so forth.”


“When I call myself a Catholic with a modern consciousness I don’t mean what might be implied by the phrase ‘modern Catholic,’ which doesn’t make sense. If you’re a Catholic you believe what the Church teaches and the climate makes no difference.”


“I won’t say ‘the poor,’ because I don’t like to distinguish them. Everybody, as far as I am concerned, is The Poor.”


“‘Accepting oneself’ does not preclude an attempt to become better. It is, in fact, primary to that effort as the Church has always taught. Self-torture is abnormal; asceticism is not.”


“I never completely forget myself except when I am writing, and I am never more completely myself than when I am writing. It is the same with Christian self-abandonment. The great difference between Christianity and the Asian religions is the Christian insistence on the fulfillment of the individual person.”


“It may be that a writer can sentimentalize certain segments of the population and get away with it, but he cannot sentimentalize the poor and get away with it.”


“I find myself in a world where everybody has his compartment, puts you in yours, shuts the door and departs. One of the awful things about writing when you are a Christian is that for you the ultimate reality is the Incarnation, the present reality is the Incarnation, and nobody believes in the Incarnation; that is, nobody in your audience. My audience are the people who think God is dead. At least these are the people I am conscious of writing for. As for Jesus being a realist: if He was not God, He was no realist, only a liar, and the crucifixion an act of justice.”


“Dogma can in no way limit a limitless God. The person outside of the Church attaches a different meaning to it than the person in it. For me a dogma is only a gateway to contemplation and is an instrument of freedom and not of restriction. It preserves mystery for the human mind.”


“I am not a mystic and I do not pretend to lead a holy life. Not that I can claim any interesting or pleasurable sins (my sense of the devil is strong) but I know all about the garden variety: pride, gluttony, envy and sloth, and what is more to the point, my virtues are as timid as my vices. I think sin occasionally brings one closer to God, but not habitual sin and not this petty kind that blocks every small good. A working knowledge of the devil can be very well had from resisting him.”


"The only force I believe in is prayer."


“I distrust pious phrases, particularly when the issue from my mouth. I try militantly never to be affected by the pious language of the faithful, but it is always coming out when you least expect it. In contrast to the pious language of the faithful, the Liturgy is beautifully flat.”


"Unadaptability is often a virtue. My standard is: when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville."




Selam


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Volnutt
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 06:07:34 PM »

Read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" for English before Christmas break and loved it. She wrote some good and frankly disturbing fiction that delved into strong Christian themes without making the sort of simple black and white drivel that I generally think of when I hear about "Christian fiction." Plus, all the time I spend on time reading about theology on the internet instead of doing homework wound up helping me with my homework, since I got to use fancy words when describing the story's themes. Her philosophy is pretty much straight Thomism, with whatever good and bad things that may imply to you.
Though as far as her fiction goes, I'm not sure that her Thomism per se really makes that much of a difference as opposed to, say, if she were Orthodox. The most important point is probably her sacramentalism.

The main point I get from her stories is that people like Hazel Motes from Wise Blood, Rayber and Tarwater from The Violent Bare it Away, Mrs. Ruby from Revelation, Granny from "A Good Man..." (at least at the end), etc. who are imprisoned by desolate modern American culture and warped, fundamentalist theologies don't know what to do with the grace of God when it comes to them. They react to it strangely based on their hypocrisy or bad experiences or whatever and often times their life falls apart as a result. Your mileage may vary as to how many of her characters are ultimately redeemed as a result of the experience.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 06:10:35 PM by Volnutt » Logged
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