“I would like to write a beautiful prayer,” writes the young Flannery O’Connor. “There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise.” Tuesday, November 12, the personal, interior life of this gifted author will be available in a new book. Fr. Damian Ference reviews the book below.
I’ve been keeping a secret for two years. I was not bound by the seal of confession, but by W.A. Sessions, a personal friend of Flannery O’Connor.
On October 6, 2011, the opening night of an O’Connor conference at Loyola University Chicago, Sessions read – for the first time in public – excerpts from a recently discovered prayer journal of Flannery O’Connor. Before he read O’Connor’s prayers, he made it very clear that we, the audience, were not permitted to record, report, or even comment upon anything that he would read. He was serious. And so were the prayers that he read to us. I took notes – lots of notes – for my own prayer and reflection. But I haven’t been able to tell anybody about them until now.
Some folks are downright shocked to discover that the same woman who wrote stories involving racism, rape, murder, an amputee, a hermaphrodite, and a mentally challenged young woman, was also a daily communicant. But it’s true. Flannery O’Connor was a devout Catholic, and the prayer journal from her time as a graduate student at the University of Iowa offers an honest, intimate, humorous, mysterious, and comforting view into the mind and heart of one of America’s greatest writers...
Rozann Carter reviews Rodney Stark's historical exposé on the Crusades, God's Battalions, taking a closer look at the idea of faith-filled fervor.
A few days ago, as you probably know, one of Father Barron’s cultural commentaries made the CNN.com “Belief Blog
.” As is the case with many of Father’s commentaries, whether on YouTube or anywhere else in the secular media, his words stirred up a deluge of negative rebuttal. As I was sitting at my desk reading through the blog on Tuesday afternoon, the onslaught of verbal attacks in the “comments” section of this media outlet was utterly overwhelming to me, as they were usually in the form of outlandish personal attacks rather than sound philosophical objections. Rather than reading what Father Barron actually said, many of the web critics instead questioned his fervor and intention. Comment after vile comment, I began to feel it imperative to personally make sure that the article was not misconstrued, that his intention was not twisted to prove a personal agenda, that the nature of his objective was properly appreciated. Not yet knowing how to go about it, I still felt it deeply necessary to attempt to reason out what seemed irrational, to set straight the misrepresentations, to defend the intention so as to realign the reaction...
Father Steve reviews the new Philip Jenkins book,
Jesus Wars, in which Jenkins analyzes the early Church's zealous battle to properly define the relationship of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ.
Philip Jenkins is that rare scholar who is able to communicate apparently complex ideas and complicated concepts in a manner that preserves their integrity and at the same time renders them accessible to a wide audience. I have been a fan of his books for some time, and for this reason I welcomed his latest: Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the next 1,500 Years.
That’s quite a title. It denotes an ambitious survey of the historical intricacies that surrounded the theological debates of the fifth through eighth centuries that explored the nature and person of Christ...
Robert Mixa, Research Assistant at Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, reviews Michael Burleigh's two books,
Earthly Powers and
Sacred Causes, which provide a well-documented look at the historical conflict between religion and politics from the French Revolution to the present day.
Prior to making judgments on any issue, it is essential to know the history of it. Unfortunately, many do not do this, especially when it comes to the relationship between religion and politics. Simple narratives are much more comfortable than the complexities of reality for they allow us to feel a hint of justification. However, history does not afford us the pleasure of black and white narratives. Nor does it permit us to squeeze it into any ideology. History is much more opaque and resistant to any quick, ready-made explanations. Our challenge is to bracket off any prior judgments we may have and let the historical data speak for itself...