Posts tagged "Flannery O’Connor"

The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

In yet another one my “live your best life” moments, I started a new scripture study on hospitality last week. As a Mississippian, I was raised to smile broadly at people I find tiresome and to entertain with the latest Jr. League Cookbook. You know, life skills. So, I thought it would be good to study the Good Book in the hopes of making my hospitality mean something. As so often happens, God had other plans.

I casually mentioned this hospitality scripture study to one of my closest friends, “You should totally do it,” I told her. Only retrospectively am I…

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The Lame Shall Enter First: Remembering Flannery O’Connor, Fifty Years Later

The Lame Shall Enter First: Remembering Flannery O’Connor, Fifty Years Later

A woman once wrote Flannery O’Connor, whose stories spanned such plots as misfit murderers, rapacious Bible salesmen, and racist old men, and the woman suggested Flannery’s stories weren’t uplifting. Complaining about the criticism in a letter to a friend, O’Connor said she would’ve found them uplifting, “if her heart were in the right place.”

Flannery’s stories usually involved the all-out assault on the human illusion of mastery and independence, undertaken desperately and absurdly. An invalid for years, you can almost hear O’Connor’s relish as she describes various medical aids:

The brace shop was a small concrete warehouse lined and stacked with the equipment…

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Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Allen Tate, an admired Southern poet (friend of Robert Penn Warren and teacher of Robert Lowell), published an essay in 1930 diagnosing the complexities of Southern and, by extension, American religion. It appears in a work by defenders of the agrarian way of life, titled I’ll Take My Stand, a book with some high points of wisdom which are neglected, now, as a result of its significant/egregious low points of racism and Southern revanchism. Tate finds American religion to be pragmatic in a bad way, focused on an abstract ability to work rather than a view of the whole human. You can…

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Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

1. We all love The Incredibles, right? It’s as good a movie as Pixar has made, which is saying a lot (rumors of a sequel are legit!). And we all remember the rant that Bob Parr goes on in the middle of the film, when he objects to attending his son’s “graduation” from the fifth grade. “He’s merely moving from the fifth grade to the sixth grade,” Parr notes. Director Brad Bird put his finger on something that many have noticed in our culture, the rise of the “participation trophy”, where kids get prizes and acclamations just for showing up…

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Reflections on Auburn’s Amazing Last Couple of Weeks

Reflections on Auburn’s Amazing Last Couple of Weeks

Auburn University is playing in the National Championship game this year. That statement was highly improbable in the beginning of the college football season this year. It definitely would’ve been an inconceivable thought last year, as Auburn went winless in SEC. This year, however, has been quite a different story. The day after Thanksgiving, Auburn faced the University of Alabama in the “Iron Bowl” and the season took a turn.

Tie game. One second left. The Crimson Tide’s last drive comes to an end and must attempt a 57-yard field goal (which would have resulted in an unbelievably iconic ending to…

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Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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Grotesque Rebellion: The Legacy of the American Muscle Car

Grotesque Rebellion: The Legacy of the American Muscle Car

And of course many of us invest our egos in our vehicle–whether driving ovate maxivans, equine pickups, or phallic coupes. Whether cars can continue to do that cultural work–can continue to serve as the ultimate symbol  of consumption and success–remains to be seen.

This comes from Daniel Albert’s “Finding the Robot Chauffeur,” a new post over at n+1 regarding the atmospheric change in the automotive industry, from brawn or beauty, to driver assistance and driver safety. In the short piece, Albert presages the new kingdom of the computerized car, and invites the shift, saying, “The robot cars are here. If only…

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Another Week Ends: Tribal Morality, Passports to Eden, Reflektor, Spufford in the Times, Social Wiring, Hemingway’s Granddaughter, Anxious Simpsons, and Heisenberg on Ice

Another Week Ends: Tribal Morality, Passports to Eden, Reflektor, Spufford in the Times, Social Wiring, Hemingway’s Granddaughter, Anxious Simpsons, and Heisenberg on Ice

1. Next week, Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene is slated to release a new book on behavioral morality, examining the everyday irrationalities and subconscious biases that Kahneman, Tversky and company have popularized over the last few decades (aside: are all titles/covers copying Malcolm Gladwell?). A common behavioral problem, the “trolley experiment”, asks people to make a hypothetical decision: if a train cannot brake and is about to run over five people, would you pull a lever that would divert it, but cause it to hit one other person? Many people answer ‘yes’. But take the same scenario, and now you have to…

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Flannery Prays for the Courage to Stand the Pain

Via The New Yorker, more profundity from Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, which hits shelves in early November. One even detects a whiff of Louis CK in there (or vice versa):

Robie_with_Flannery_1947Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realize I don’t know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted. That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it. Contrition in me is largely imperfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You. That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish. To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary. All boils down to grace, I suppose. Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt him. I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace, Oh Lord. Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.

Another Week Ends: Zach Morris, Misfit Priests and Wild Geese, 50 Shades Turnover, Finding Flannery, Inbox Zero, and More Capon

Another Week Ends: Zach Morris, Misfit Priests and Wild Geese, 50 Shades Turnover, Finding Flannery, Inbox Zero, and More Capon

1) To add to the Facebook files, this one came from the New Yorker. A study was given to see what emotional effects are aggravated by social media site, and, surprise surprise, the rise in the “market of social capital” equals a correlated relationship with envy and loneliness. Still, studies snake-eye with Facebook: many researchers say it is a good thing, that it offers virtual connection possibilities, something we are “wired” for. People on this side of the research say that “active” Facebook users, versus “passive” users, are more likely to have healthy relationships because of it. On the contrary,…

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Flannery O’Connor Writes About Freaks For the Good of Us All

Flannery O’Connor Writes About Freaks For the Good of Us All

A few choice passages from Flannery O’Connor’s brilliant manifesto (she’d hate that word) – “The Grotesque in Southern Fiction” – for the bizarre ways that larger-than-life characters of experiences somehow communicate sin, grace, and, subsequently, the possibilities of redemption. It also doubles as an oblique commentary on her biblical influences as a writer:

Since the eighteenth century, the popular spirit of each succeeding age has tended more and more to the view that the ills and mysteries of life will eventually fall before the scientific advances of man, a belief that is still going strong even though this is the first…

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Another Week Ends: Geistless Zeit, Tony Soprano vs. Walter White, Coach Taylor as Gentleman, Netflix’s PRISM, Marriage Apps, Hemingway, and Christianity as Marketing Label

Another Week Ends: Geistless Zeit, Tony Soprano vs. Walter White, Coach Taylor as Gentleman, Netflix’s PRISM, Marriage Apps, Hemingway, and Christianity as Marketing Label

1. To start off, Henry Allen over at The Wall Street Journal describes a contemporary cultural inertia he’s felt. An ironically self-described ex-“Ziggy Zeitgeist”, he’s now in limbo, the cultural doldrums, ht VH:

Now I am disquieted. It’s not that I see things changing for better or worse, for richer or poorer, or even not changing at all. It’s something else: The most important thing in our culture-sphere isn’t change but the fact that reality itself is dwindling, fading like sunstruck wallpaper, turning into a silence of the dinner-party sort that leads to a default discussion of movies.

Is some sort of cultural entropy…

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