Flannery O’Connor’s Critique of Secularism https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/arts-culture/2015/06/flannery-oconnors-critique-of-secularism/

June 23, 2015 | Ralph C. Wood
About the author:

The American author Flannery O’Connor—honored this month with a commemorative postal stamp—is well known for her portrayals of religious hypocrites and religious zealots. However, writes Ralph C. Wood, her work is permeated by a deep belief in the power of religion, and a warning about the secularizing tendencies of mid-20th-century American life:

O’Connor likened the true grotesques of our age to chickens who have been genetically engineered so as to make them wingless, the better to produce an abundance of tender white meat. The denizens of our secular sovereignty are not so much a brood of vipers, she said, but “a generation of wingless chickens.” This, she surmised, “is what Nietzsche meant when he said God was dead.” . . .

O’Connor’s . . . characters learn to “see” by discerning the invisible realities that are both the cause and the cure of the world’s misery. They discover that, as O’Connor herself declared, evil is not a problem to be fixed but a mystery to be endured. Our great temptation, in an age of “anti-religious religion,” is to believe that, because we can repair much of human pain by human measures, we can also mend the human soul. Thus do we also blink. We benignly yield to feelings that, at whatever cost, must not be “hurt.” We cancel our very humanity in conforming ourselves to a happiness that denies both our moral perversions and bodily limitations.

Flannery O’Connor’s characters do not blink. Like many biblical figures, her central characters are not good country people or just plain folks. They believe and they behave strangely. They often find what they are not looking for. They are put on the path toward something infinitely more important than social acceptance and cultural conformity. They are being burned clean and made whole.

Read more on First Things: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/06/flannery-oconnor-stamped-but-not-cancelled