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Flannery O'Connor's View of the Modern Alienation from Sacramental Religion

Törnqvist, Inger B LU (2004)
Abstract
Mary Flannery O’Connor (1925-64) was born in Savannah, Georgia as the only child of the American Irish Catholics Edward Francis O’Connor, Jr. and Regina Cline O’Connor. In 1952 her first novel Wise Blood, in 1955 the short story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and in 1960 her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away were published. She received several fellowships and titles of Honorary Doctor, lectured about the relation between Southern literature and religion at US universities, and wrote book reviews for Catholic literary journals. In 1971, she won the National Book Award for The Complete Stories posthumously.



The present study analyses her work, both fictional and non-fictional in relation to her American... (More)
Mary Flannery O’Connor (1925-64) was born in Savannah, Georgia as the only child of the American Irish Catholics Edward Francis O’Connor, Jr. and Regina Cline O’Connor. In 1952 her first novel Wise Blood, in 1955 the short story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and in 1960 her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away were published. She received several fellowships and titles of Honorary Doctor, lectured about the relation between Southern literature and religion at US universities, and wrote book reviews for Catholic literary journals. In 1971, she won the National Book Award for The Complete Stories posthumously.



The present study analyses her work, both fictional and non-fictional in relation to her American Catholic background and the characteristics of the predominantly Protestant South depicted in her works. The claim is that she in her works mirrors a modern gnostic alienation from sacramental religion in American Catholicism and American Protestant fundamentalism. She uses her fiction to criticize the American Catholic Church for its Neoscholastic isolation and Irish Catholic Jansenist-type worship, as well as its sentimental and rationalist bias. In accordance with Aquinas’s aesthetical idea, she uses the medieval three-leveled anagogical vision in her writing. Through her fiction she rejects modern gnosticism by using blood, a Christian symbol that occurs early in Church History, as a symbol for martyrdom and God-calling, in order to portray a sacramental God-human-relation.



Through the characters of her stories she describes American Protestant fundamentalism as lacking sacraments and religious imagery and as strongly focusing on resurrection, after-life, and self-invented and privatized worship. She conveys these traits as incitements of the US modern alienation from sacramental religion. Her view is that American Protestant fundamentalist reveals a modern gnostic mindset due to a void of natural theology and the practice of individual Bible-interpretation, the latter being the result of an unfortunate combination of Biblical Inerrancy belief and free Bible interpretation. She satirically reveals that the harmony between American Calvinistic work ethos and social Darwinism contradicts the Puritan ascetic view. In her fiction, she exposes secular humanism as being based on the Enlightenment idea of innate innocence and describes modern psychology and sociology as basically modern gnostic views. In contrast to Positive Thinking she employs Emmanuel Mounier’s philosophy of Personalism. She puts the Southern white racism in a Christian framework of redemption, and displays the issue of integration as beyond rational solutions. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Professor Lock, Charles, Copenhagen
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
secular humanism, Social Darwinism, Progressivism, Southern literature, natural theology, Southern Protestant fundamentalism, “Americanism Debate“, modern gnosticism, gnostic, Jansenism, Neoscholasticism, American Catholicism, Sacramental religion, O’Connor, Joyce, psychology, sociology, History of the Christian church, Kristna kyrkans historia
pages
228 pages
publisher
Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University
defense location
Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lund
defense date
2004-05-03 13:15
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
19f4a2dd-1dd4-47c6-84cb-176689c4c394 (old id 21898)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 15:03:52
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:03
@misc{19f4a2dd-1dd4-47c6-84cb-176689c4c394,
  abstract     = {Mary Flannery O’Connor (1925-64) was born in Savannah, Georgia as the only child of the American Irish Catholics Edward Francis O’Connor, Jr. and Regina Cline O’Connor. In 1952 her first novel Wise Blood, in 1955 the short story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and in 1960 her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away were published. She received several fellowships and titles of Honorary Doctor, lectured about the relation between Southern literature and religion at US universities, and wrote book reviews for Catholic literary journals. In 1971, she won the National Book Award for The Complete Stories posthumously.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The present study analyses her work, both fictional and non-fictional in relation to her American Catholic background and the characteristics of the predominantly Protestant South depicted in her works. The claim is that she in her works mirrors a modern gnostic alienation from sacramental religion in American Catholicism and American Protestant fundamentalism. She uses her fiction to criticize the American Catholic Church for its Neoscholastic isolation and Irish Catholic Jansenist-type worship, as well as its sentimental and rationalist bias. In accordance with Aquinas’s aesthetical idea, she uses the medieval three-leveled anagogical vision in her writing. Through her fiction she rejects modern gnosticism by using blood, a Christian symbol that occurs early in Church History, as a symbol for martyrdom and God-calling, in order to portray a sacramental God-human-relation.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Through the characters of her stories she describes American Protestant fundamentalism as lacking sacraments and religious imagery and as strongly focusing on resurrection, after-life, and self-invented and privatized worship. She conveys these traits as incitements of the US modern alienation from sacramental religion. Her view is that American Protestant fundamentalist reveals a modern gnostic mindset due to a void of natural theology and the practice of individual Bible-interpretation, the latter being the result of an unfortunate combination of Biblical Inerrancy belief and free Bible interpretation. She satirically reveals that the harmony between American Calvinistic work ethos and social Darwinism contradicts the Puritan ascetic view. In her fiction, she exposes secular humanism as being based on the Enlightenment idea of innate innocence and describes modern psychology and sociology as basically modern gnostic views. In contrast to Positive Thinking she employs Emmanuel Mounier’s philosophy of Personalism. She puts the Southern white racism in a Christian framework of redemption, and displays the issue of integration as beyond rational solutions.},
  author       = {Törnqvist, Inger B},
  keyword      = {secular humanism,Social Darwinism,Progressivism,Southern literature,natural theology,Southern Protestant fundamentalism,“Americanism Debate“,modern gnosticism,gnostic,Jansenism,Neoscholasticism,American Catholicism,Sacramental religion,O’Connor,Joyce,psychology,sociology,History of the Christian church,Kristna kyrkans historia},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {228},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xaea0e28)},
  title        = {Flannery O'Connor's View of the Modern Alienation from Sacramental Religion},
  year         = {2004},
}