Advertisement

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

“Mean Grace?” Via Flannery O’Connor

This week I’m making my way through Flannery O’Connor’s book of short stories Everything That Rises Must Converge.  (The book’s title comes from the first story that appears in this series of O’Connor’s stories.)

Three stories in, I’m struck by a common crescendo that describes O’Connor’s stories: her characters seem in some ways hopelessly and depressingly damned to their own self-constructed prisons of prejudice, self-righteousness and self-absorption— until the very end of the story, when in one final, startling, apocalyptic moment, some life-changing revelation hits them just as they meet their death.

“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end,” another author, Sylvia Plath, wrote, and maybe the same could be said of O’Connor’s characters, too.  They seem only really to begin seeing life in living colors—the kind of rich, vivid hues that will set them free—upon tasting death.  But then it’s too late, at least for this life, for such discoveries to matter.  Someone once called this common form of plot resolution in O’Connor’s stories “mean grace,” and I’m inclined to agree the reference is apropos.

Advertisement

But it remains hard to say in these stories whether the characters’ discoveries, however painful or lethal they may be, actually constitute grace—and maybe this ambiguity is intentional.  Maybe O’Connor leaves the reader to discern for herself whether there is in fact grace to be found in the final dissolution of these seemingly hopeless but all-too-real characters.

What do you think? Have you read O’Connor’s stories? Do you have a favorite and why? And would you agree with the assessment that her story lines often end with “mean grace”?

 

Previous Posts

3 Quasi-Spiritual Lessons from the Ashley Madison Scandal
For those of us saints and sinners who even remotely have been following last week’s Ashley Madison scandal, I can think of at least three lessons it offers (and you may have more, in which case feel free to leave them below): 1. Chances ...

posted 6:14:59pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

John Oliver vs. Televangelists and Their "Big Seed" Prosperity Gospel
If you've not seen it, you must: John Oliver on "Last Week Tonight" offered the most brilliantly funny rebuke of televangelists and the prosperity gospel I've seen to date. Oliver doesn't mince words, including the four-letter ones, in blasting ...

posted 2:21:12am Aug. 18, 2015 | read full post »

How the Latest Revelations Re: ISIS' Systemized Sexual Violence Against Girls Remind Me I Am Not a Pacifist
As if ISIS had not already convinced us enough of its total depravity ... the latest revelations by The New York Times —(be forewarned, they are disturbing to read) — remind me why I am not a pacifist. As if turning small boys into child ...

posted 5:54:37pm Aug. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Mustard Seed Faith and a Mustard Seed Kingdom of God, Via Mary Oliver
Last ...

posted 1:47:32pm Aug. 12, 2015 | read full post »

A Beloved Lion, The Dentist Who Trophy-Hunted Him, and the Power of Shame
[caption id="attachment_5637" align="alignleft" width="300"] 13-year-old Cecil was the beloved resident of Hwange National Park, where earlier this July he was baited and killed for fun by Walter Palmer, DDS. The GPS collar Cecil was wearing ...

posted 2:54:27pm Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.