Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Flannery O’Connor Canceled by Catholics?

 

Let me be bold and say that while there are others worthy of note, the greatest American short story writer is Flannery O’Connor. Her pen was inspired. Her soul is found on every page she ever published. Her commentary can be as biting as a serpent while remaining as beautiful as a piece of stained glass. I take great pride from the fact that she was from Georgia, as I am from Georgia. I take great pride in the fact that she was a Catholic, as I am a Catholic. I take great pride in the fact that she is part of the American canon, as she earned her place. Yet she has been canceled by Catholics at a Catholic university in Maryland that is removing her name from a dorm.

Apparently, when she was a young woman during the Jim Crow Era, Mary Flannery, as she was known as a child, wrote in private correspondence to family and friends some thoughts that “reflected a racist perspective.” It matters not that the president priest of Loyola who is removing her name from the dorm has recognized that O’Connor’s stories–the public art for which she is noted–uphold “the dignity of African American persons” while making “bigots the object of ridicule.” Her sins must be expunged as she is erased from the campus.

This is crazy and depresses me greatly. So instead of focusing solely on what I view as an injustice, I thought I would offer some words on my favorite O’Connor story and ask if anyone else finds her work worthwhile.

I have been thinking a lot lately about “The Enduring Chill,” a story which makes fun of the empty elitism of the main character Asbury who seems to feel his cosmopolitan experiences in New York City transformed him into a better person than his mother who runs a farm in the South. Incidentally, O’Connor shows two black workers on the farm are much smarter than the white Asbury, as no one can tell the young man anything. In his shows of moral superiority, he is full of arrogance, empty of wisdom. O’Connor brilliantly draws the portrait of an individual who would surely call himself “woke” in 2020, while cutting him down to size.

I wish there were writers like O’Connor currently working, though I’m not sure they’d get published in today’s “enlightened” world.

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  1. Arahant Member

    When everyone gets cancelled, nobody will be cancelled.

    • #1
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    I don’t know anything about Flannery O’Connor and don’t care especially about her. But, this is yet another sign that the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by socialists and they must be purged and scourged. WWJD? Turn over some tables and make a ruckus?

    • #2
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Arahant (View Comment):

    When everyone gets cancelled, nobody will be cancelled.

    That’s equity.

    • #3
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:30 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    I don’t know anything about Flannery O’Connor and don’t care especially about her. But, this is yet another sign that the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by socialists and they must be purged and scourged. WWJD? Turn over some tables and make a ruckus?

    I think he would, @dong. I think he would.

    • #4
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. JoelB Member

    Once upon a time people would have asked what it was that turned a famous person from the errors of his early life to high ideals and achievement. King David prayed “Remember not the sins of my youth”. This is known in some circles as grace.

    • #5
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:48 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  6. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Once upon a time people would have asked what it was that turned a famous person from the errors of his early life to high ideals and achievement. King David prayed “Remember not the sins of my youth”. This is known in some circles as grace.

    I’d triple like that @joelb if I could.

    • #6
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:52 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. MarciN Member

    I was watching Carousel the other day. It’s about a guy who strikes his wife, and the rest of the story is about her forgiveness. Well, she forgave him, but he never forgave himself nor did the town. 

    The play is set in 1873, but it was written in 1945. Our country has changed a lot since 1945, mostly in embracing the psychology movement that says once a person is something-or-other, he or she is always that way. The change in attitude shows up everywhere I look. 

    I’m also watching the Word on Fire series on Catholicism, and the same thought occurs to me watching that as Carousel. Why did Jesus’ words matter so much? Why has the Catholic Church survived 2,020 years? Because it offers forgiveness and redemption right up to the last breath we take. 

    We really need to get back to thinking that people can change, that what you are as a teenager is not who you are as an adult, and sometimes we learn the strongest lessons confronting who we once were.

    When he was a young boy, Walt Disney killed a bird with a slingshot. It bothered him terribly. 

    We underestimate how much guilt makes us grow. 

    We need to believe in each other, see God’s light in each other, and forgive each other. Christ gave us himself, and just as importantly, he gave us each other. Love each other as I have loved you. 

    Sermon over. :-)

    • #7
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  8. PHenry Member

    Let him who is without sin cast the first stone? Let him who is without sin choose whom is to be cancelled.
    I thought Catholics and Christians understood that all men are sinners, and forgiveness is absolute in Christ! Or is use of questionable language about race now a deadly sin?

    • #8
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    MarciN (View Comment):
    We underestimate how much guilt makes us grow. 

    First, I love Bishop Barron, so huzzah on Word on Fire. 

    Second, yessss! I look back pretty much every year on my birthday and say to myself, “I’m glad I’m not still that woman.”

    I mean, I hope I’m not horrendous as a human, but I’m smart enough to recognize I am, actually, full of horrendous things, and they come out in small ways all the time. Then I cry on Sundays because I sense how much I need grace… not just want grace. I am grateful when I realize I really have grown in some way or another.

    Thinking about the people who are removing names now for all their imperfections, I find myself truly amazed because I wonder if these new, improved souls are like the gods who do no wrong, who are never judged because they always sit in judgement.

     

    • #9
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    PHenry (View Comment):

    Let him who is without sin cast the first stone? Let him who is without sin choose whom is to be cancelled.
    I thought Catholics and Christians understood that all men are sinners, and forgiveness is absolute in Christ! Or is use of questionable language about race now a deadly sin?

    This is why I thought this deserved a posting. Cancel culture has been much commented upon on Ricochet. But this is the church engaged in canceling a devout and faithful servant. A church, by the way, that has shown itself time and time and time again to be in need of much forgiveness.

    • #10
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:16 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. MarciN Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    We underestimate how much guilt makes us grow.

    First, I love Bishop Barron, so huzzah on Word on Fire.

    Second, yessss! I look back pretty much every year on my birthday and say to myself, “I’m glad I’m not still that woman.”

    I mean, I hope I’m not horrendous as a human, but I’m smart enough to recognize I am, actually, full of horrendous things, and they come out in small ways all the time. Then I cry on Sundays because I sense how much I need grace… not just want grace. I am grateful when I realize I really have grown in some way or another.

    Thinking about the people who are removing names now for all their imperfections, I find myself truly amazed because I wonder if these new, improved souls are like the gods who do no wrong, who are never judged because they always sit in judgement.

     

    I think they must be much better people than I am. I wouldn’t dare think about my fellow human beings the way others do. I fear God would be at my side in an instant reading me a very uncomfortable list of everything I’ve done wrong or hurtful. I envision this Star Trek tube of light around me as God reads me his list. :-) Swift and Instant Eternal Justice. :-) 

    • #11
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Hoyacon Member

    Are we allowed to know what her crimes were without checking The New Yorker?

    Jesuits. 

    • #12
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Are we allowed to know what her crimes were without checking The New Yorker?

    Jesuits.


    Here
    in that same magazine, O’Connor is praised for her honesty about race rather than condemned for being a person who lived in time and space.

    • #13
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Are we allowed to know what her crimes were without checking The New Yorker?

    According to the woke student who agitated for her cancellation, “Recent letters and postcards written by Flannery O’Connor express strong racist sentiments and hate speech.”

    “Recent.”

    • #14
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:17 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. Hoyacon Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Unhelpful Com… (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Are we allowed to know what her crimes were without checking The New Yorker?

    According to the woke student who agitated for her cancellation, “recent letters and postcards written by Flannery O’Connor express strong racist sentiments and hate speech.”

    Rather general, eh?

    I should add that the specifics are beside the point, but I’d still like some specifics.

    • #15
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    This is from the New Yorker article I linked to a couple of comments back, but it might give a hint: 

    “’No I can’t see James Baldwin in Georgia,’ she wrote in 1959 to a friend who had tried to arrange the introduction. ‘It would cause the greatest trouble and disturbance and disunion. In New York it would be nice to meet him; here it would not. I observe the traditions of the society I feed on—it’s only fair. Might as well expect a mule to fly as me to see James Baldwin in Georgia.'”

    It sounds rather honest to me per the time period. She does not say she would not like to meet Baldwin. She simply recognizes the limits of the society in which she lived. I suppose one could wish that she then railed against that injustice, but we ask a lot from her if that’s what we expect. I also do not have the rest of the letter.

    • #16
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:26 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  17. Flicker Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    When everyone gets cancelled, nobody will be cancelled.

    This time I think i have to disagree with you, Arahant. When everyone gets cancelled, everyone is silent.

    • #17
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    When everyone gets cancelled, nobody will be cancelled.

    This time I think i have to disagree with you, Arahant. When everyone gets cancelled, everyone is silent.

    And no one is free.

    • #18
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. Bob Thompson Member

    Those behind and supporting the ‘cancel culture’ are totally demented.

    • #19
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:42 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Those behind and supporting the ‘cancel culture’ are totally demented.

    I can’t argue with this. But it seems to be expanding.

    • #20
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Hoyacon Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Those behind and supporting the ‘cancel culture’ are totally demented.

    I can’t argue with this. But it seems to be expanding.

    There is no end to the number of hypersensitive people, and we are growing them to be even more hypersensitive by the day. Once it becomes ingrained that we have to cater to almost anyone claiming to be offended by almost anything, there’s no limiting principle.

    Some legal issues apply a “reasonable person” standard in an effort to curtail subjectivity, but our culture seems enamored of the “unreasonable person” standard.

    • #21
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:53 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  22. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    “’No I can’t see James Baldwin in Georgia,’ she wrote in 1959 to a friend who had tried to arrange the introduction. ‘It would cause the greatest trouble and disturbance and disunion. In New York it would be nice to meet him; here it would not. I observe the traditions of the society I feed on—it’s only fair. Might as well expect a mule to fly as me to see James Baldwin in Georgia.’”

    It sounds rather honest to me per the time period. She does not say she would not like to meet Baldwin. She simply recognizes the limits of the society in which she lived. I suppose one could wish that she then railed against that injustice, but we ask a lot from her if that’s what we expect. I also do not have the rest of the letter.

    If you have her book “The Habit of Being,” I found it, dated April 25, 1959. It’s a letter to Maryat Lee.

    She follows the above quote with “I have read one of his stories and it was a good one.” She then goes on to speak of a friend who was writing a book set in “interracial circles in New York.” This friend has “a lot of liberal abolishionist [sic] friends” and tried to get them to introduce him to James Baldwin and “some interracial society.”

    “He stayed two weeks and pulled all his strings and wasn’t able to meet one Negro socially. Well, at least down here we are benighted over the table not under it. If he comes to New York again, I’ll get him to call you and maybe you could scout up a few. But don’t worry, he’s not coming. I think he’s decided to rely on his imagination . . .”

    Seems to me that’s an indictment of New York.

    • #22
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. PHenry Member

    I’m old enough to remember when the ‘progressives’ were horrified by cancel culture. Shunning women who were loose, rejecting homosexuality and gays, turning up the nose at those who associated with Blacks (as in the example above) or running communists out of Hollywood and government- those were unacceptable cruelties.

    So they turned it all around. Shunning, canceling, turning up ones nose, is now just as common a practice, if not more so. Just for all different reasons now.

    So apparently it wasn’t the cruelty, the inhumanity and unforgivingness of judgmentalism that they found objectionable, it was just the choice of what was worthy of cancelation which was the issue?

    Much like racism! When I was growing up (Smack dab in the civil rights era) we felt it was wrong to judge a man by the color of his skin, his religion, or his heritage. But apparently the problem was never one of judging a man by the color of his skin, the problem was which race deserved superiority!

     

    • #23
    • August 4, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. Michael Brehm Member

    Incorrigible misfit that I am, I actually picked up my Flannery O’Connor collection again because I take pleasure in doing things that would upset the right kind of people if they only knew. I’m currently enjoying “The Violent Bear it Away” as my light bedtime reading.

    • #24
    • August 4, 2020, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  25. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    DrewInWisconsin, Unhelpful Com… (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    “’No I can’t see James Baldwin in Georgia,’ she wrote in 1959 to a friend who had tried to arrange the introduction. ‘It would cause the greatest trouble and disturbance and disunion. In New York it would be nice to meet him; here it would not. I observe the traditions of the society I feed on—it’s only fair. Might as well expect a mule to fly as me to see James Baldwin in Georgia.’”

    It sounds rather honest to me per the time period. She does not say she would not like to meet Baldwin. She simply recognizes the limits of the society in which she lived. I suppose one could wish that she then railed against that injustice, but we ask a lot from her if that’s what we expect. I also do not have the rest of the letter.

    If you have her book “The Habit of Being,” I found it, dated April 25, 1959. It’s a letter to Maryat Lee.

    She follows the above quote with “I have read one of his stories and it was a good one.” She then goes on to speak of a friend who was writing a book set in “interracial circles in New York.” This friend has “a lot of liberal abolishionist [sic] friends” and tried to get them to introduce him to James Baldwin and “some interracial society.”

    “He stayed two weeks and pulled all his strings and wasn’t able to meet one Negro socially. Well, at least down here we are benighted over the table not under it. If he comes to New York again, I’ll get him to call you and maybe you could scout up a few. But don’t worry, he’s not coming. I think he’s decided to rely on his imagination . . .”

    Seems to me that’s an indictment of New York.

    I’ve gleaned from what I’ve read that the real “problem” letters/postcards were written in the 1940s when she was a very young woman first away from home, though I think this from the 1950s shows that she could/would judge a man’s work based on the quality of the content rather than the color of the author. That shows me growth, whatever she said earlier, whatever prejudices she held until her untimely death.

    Thanks for adding to the text!

    • #25
    • August 4, 2020, at 1:17 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Michael Brehm (View Comment):

    Incorrigible misfit that I am, I actually picked up my Flannery O’Connor collection again because I take pleasure in doing things that would upset the right kind of people if they only knew. I’m currently enjoying “The Violent Bear it Away” as my light bedtime reading.

    I think it goes without saying that Flannery O’Connor would love you for being an “incorrigible misfit.” ;) 

    • #26
    • August 4, 2020, at 1:20 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Michael Brehm (View Comment):
    I’m currently enjoying “The Violent Bear it Away” as my light bedtime reading.

    That’s a fantastic novel.

    • #27
    • August 4, 2020, at 1:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Unsk Member

    DonG :But, this is yet another sign that the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by socialists and they must be purged and scourged. WWJD? Turn over some tables and make a ruckus?

    Yes, Don the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by Socialists, but a Catholic University in Maryland does not represent the Catholic Church as a whole I think. A lot of “Catholic” Universities have long bent over backward for the Woke Mob and this instance I think is just one of them.

    Arahant:When everyone gets cancelled, nobody will be cancelled.

    I disagree. There will always be the Protected Big Cheese Wokes and they will be the last to be canceled. Also if you notice Senile Joe, Billy Jeff and Hillary have not been cancelled; they are protected even though their sex crimes alone should qualify them for the Hoosegow not just a cancellation.

    You are right though that many a Woke will be cancelled and in fact many already have. Much like the French Reign of Terror. The Guillotine will come for the Big Cheese Wokes last, but it will inadvertently come for many a Woke along the way.

    • #28
    • August 4, 2020, at 4:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Doug Watt Moderator

    I would suggest that Loyola, Maryland invite a Dominican to take charge of their campus ministry to bring Christ back to secular campus.

    From the Domincana Journal:

    In 1955, the southern author Flannery O’Connor said of herself, “Everybody who has read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas. . .I’m a hillbilly Thomist.” She said that her fiction was concerned with the ways grace is at work among people who do not have access to the sacraments. The Thomist (one who follows the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas) believes that the invisible grace of God can be at work in visible things, just as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Christ.

    • #29
    • August 4, 2020, at 4:18 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  30. MartinB Coolidge

    I’ll skip the diplomacy: Father Brian Linnane, President of Loyola University, is an evil worm.

    “Information coming forward recently about O’Connor, a Catholic American writer of the 20th century, has revealed that some of her personal writings revealed a racist perspective…A residence hall is supposed to be the students’ home. If some of the students who live in that building find it to be unwelcoming and unsettling (to have it named for Flannery O’Connor), that has to be taken seriously.” In renaming the dorm, Fr Linnane said the university was looking for “someone who reflects the values of Loyola and its students at the present time, and whose commitment to the fight for racial equality – from an intellectual point of view and from a faith perspective – would be more appropriate for the residence hall.”

    Notice how blithely he grants Absolute Moral Authority to all SJWs everywhere. If even one of them declares that something or someone is hate speech, is racist, is “unwelcoming” or “unsettling”, that something or someone must be cancelled, banished, abolished, without hesitation or reflection. The accusation must not be questioned, must not be scrutinized. Worms in positions of authority like Fr Linnane who cave in to rabid SJWs like this are even more evil than the SJWs. If it wasn’t for them there would be no cancel culture. If it was up to them, soon there would be nothing and no one left standing.

    • #30
    • August 4, 2020, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 11 likes