Flannery as a child....

Flannery O’Connor left us with a treasure trove of thought on life in the South, religion, the Church, and raw human experience.  I hope y’all enjoy these few quotes from some of her stories, books, and correspondence…

“I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.”

“Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.”

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. ”

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

“When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.”

“The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.”

“Most of us come to the church by a means the church does not allow.”

“You don’t serve God by saying: the Church is ineffective, I’ll have none of it. Your pain at its lack of effectiveness is a sign of your nearness to God. We help overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it. ”

“Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead,” The Misfit continued, “and He shouldn’t have done it. He’s thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him…”

“Later he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he might be walking on the water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown.”

“The fiction of Ayn Rand (noted atheist who wrote ‘Atlas Shrugged’) is as low as you can get re: fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

“She would have been a good woman,” the Misfit said, “there had been someone to shoot her every day of her life.”

“Did you see the picture of Roy Rogers’s horse attending a church service in Pasadena? I forgot whether his name was Tex or Trigger but he was dressed fit to kill and looked like he was having a good time. He doubled the usual attendance.”

Check out the two videos below!  The first, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”  has become really popular in Christian circles, and there’s been a ton of Youtube responses, ranging from the atheist “Why I Hate Religion, and Hate Jesus, Too”, to a bikini clad girl’s version of “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”.  The original, written by 22 year old Jefferson Bethke, has quickly become a theme for younger evangelicals.

I’ve seen a lot of responses, but the second video featured here, “Why I love Religion, and Love Jesus”, is a really well-thought out response from a Catholic perspective…by far the best response I’ve seen.

There’s an unrest, a sentiment among some Christians that calls for a dislike of  “organized religion”…the church.  Scripture teaches us, though, that “Christ loves the church, and gave himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  In the words of Derek Webb, “If you love Him, you must love the church”.  There really is no scriptural context for Christianity outside of community.  Yes, throughout the centuries, there have been believers who were called to solitary living (see Desert Fathers), but if you really examine their lives, you see that these men were teachers, mentors, and spiritual guides for countless souls.  They may have lived solitary lives, but their faith was lived out in community.  And that community, with all its beauty and scars and pain and hope, is called the church.

I’ve heard lots of thoughts on the first video…Let me know what you think about the second!