The Religion & Culture Web Forum
"The Catholic Sophocles: Violence and Vision in Flannery O'Connor's 'Revelation'"
by Richard A. Rosengarten (University of Chicago)
This month, Dean Richard Rosengarten of the University of Chicago Divinity School looks at the relationship between religious awakening and violence as expressed in the work of Flannery O'Connor. In a close reading of the short story "Revelation," Dean Rosengarten highlights O'Connor's use of violence to awaken her characters to attentive religious and emotional life.
Does someone have to get hit in the head with a book - or shot dead, or gored to death by a bull - to begin to see the truth about who they really are, and what they really mean to the world? Is true religious vision obtained at severe cost to our most cherished notions of social order and decorum? Indeed, can the very symbols of tradition be domesticated for such use, in betrayal of their true meaning? In the world of Flannery O'Connor's fiction, the answer to all these questions is emphatically affirmative. And she judges the human capacity to hide behind various trappings, social and theological, to be a fundamental source of the need for art that reminds humanity of its real relationship to the world and the divine reality that undergirds it....
Early in November, invited responses to Dean Rosengarten's essay will be offered by Father Robert Barron of the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, Brian Britt of Virginia Tech, and Terrence W. Tilley of the University of Dayton.