Monday, October 3, 2011

Food for Thought from Flannery O'Connor

The following quotes and notes are taken from Spiritual Writings by and about  famous author and devout Catholic Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964), edited by Robert Ellsberg with an intro by Richard Giannone to make of what you will. I think she's absolutely wonderful and right on. All in italics are Flannery's.

What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket when of course it is the cross. 

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 herd has been known to be right, in which case the one who leaves it is doing evil. When the herd is wrong, the one who leaves it is not doing evil but the right thing.
Subtlety is the curse of man. It is not found in deity.

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

 "Christianity is not a matter of feeling good or cultural conditioning. O'Connor's maternal solicitude extends from challenging the highfalutin intellectual on abstractions to correcting the smugness of Christians who have no idea what their faith is all about."

Christ never said that the Church would be operated in a sinless or intelligent way, but that it would not teach error.  This does not mean that each and every priest won't teach error but that the whole Church speaking through the pope will not teach error in matters of faith.

The cultural climate should make no difference in what the Church teaches.

The Church stands for and preserves always what is larger than human understanding.

All around you today you will find people accepting 'religion' that has been rid of its religious elements.

Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.

Some effects of modern liberalism: turning religion into poetry and therapy, making truth vaguer and more relative, banishing intellectual distinctions, depending on feelings instead of thought.

Christianity is a continual turning to God and away from egocentricity.

"Only by recovering a strong sense of the devil and personal sin can Christians be true to Christ.

Our obliviousness to evil gives the enemies of God free reign to do their work.

I identify the devil as the devil and not some psychological tendency.

"She could not stomach the sugary slice of inspirational pie, which she felt confused the inner and outer worlds, falsified the stumbling blocks in the path of faith, and trivialized the pain of drawing close to God."

The Christian [should] accept sin as sin, not sickness or accident of environment, but as a responsible choice of offense against God which involves his eternal future.

Either one is serious about salvation or is not.

Well, God rescues us from ourselves if we want Him to.

"The vaporization of religion happens when the Church is stripped of its certainties and becomes another Elks Club."

The operation of the Church is set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.

The liberal approach is that man has never fallen, never incurred guilt, and is ultimately perfectable by his own efforts. Therefore evil in this light is a problem of better housing, sanitation, health, etc., and all evil will eventually be obliterated.

In the absence of faith we govern by tenderness, which ends up as terror.

Christianity doesn't rest finally in any stable kind of solution. It ought to throw you back on the living God.

"Her stories were not a matter of Do Unto Others. She felt that could be found in any ethical culture series. They were about the fact of the Word made flesh."