Obliged to See God

For many years, the December issue of Sojourners has honored a person or persons who somehow communicates the mystery, love, and truth of God in the world, incarnate.

This year we focus on the author Flannery O'Connor. A devout Catholic and self-taught lay theologian, she was fiercely dedicated to fiction as an incarnational art-capable of revealing the mysterious encounter with redemption only by being true to the blood and dust, delusions and customs of the human condition. -The Editors

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. -Flannery O'Connor

WHILE SCRIPTURE MAY CONFER SPECIAL blessings on those who believe in the risen Christ but never saw him up close, Flannery O'Connor recognized that at best modern people tend to be doubting Thomases (and at worst, sentimentalists who deny anything so ugly as crucifixion even as they are hammering in the nails). So she offered up stories that are haunted with a risen savior, whose wounded side and terrifying love and forgiveness demand acknowledgment in unexpected, brutal, and sometimes hilarious ways.

O'Connor's career spanned the 1950s and early '60s, an era when commercial culture's adoration of progress and prosperity reigned. The future was painted as bright and homogenous as the shiny new subdivisions springing up across America and never mind that backyard bomb shelter. Ominous possibilities and the most seething tensions-race and ideology-were politely ignored whenever possible. If the sparkling promises of advertising weren't to your tastes, then there was always the choice of artistic and intellectual nihilism.

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Sojourners Magazine December 1994-January 1995
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