Sunday, February 24, 2013

Literature Class

So this semester I am taking a class titled "Composition and Interpretation of Literature."  So far the professor's picks have been a bit stuffy and I am not finding the class interesting, but this week has at least given me the excitement of being able to "bash" religion.
The three stories he chose this week are "Parker's Back", "Revelation", and "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Conner. If you haven't read her works I would say you should.  As an orthodox catholic in the protestant bible belt O'Conner intended for her stories to be a criticism of protestant attitudes of the time and a general slipping of "morality", but the whole time I was reading these stories they struck me as great arguments against religious views.  I'll just copy and paste my response this week on the discussion forum.
All three stories have a mutual setting of the south in transition from the "old ways" to the new ones where blacks are starting to firmly plant themselves as a part of society and values are changing.  All three characters have the darker aspects of their character revealed, though I'm not sure if I agree with the angle that this is pro-christian literature.

 In the first story the grandmother talked an awful lot about Jesus and praying, but she would have been better off taking responsibility for her actions and making better choices.  It was ultimately her fault that they ended up on a dirt road they had no business on in a wreck caused by her cat and killed by a man she shouldn't have opened her mouth to so she could say she recognized him. 

 Mrs. Turpin rationalized a lot of her views by assuming that she was a good person and only questions it when attacked an "ugly" girl that I see as a physical manifestation of the ugly side of herself.  She could not wrap her head around the idea that it was her own offensive views that brought the wrath of this girl down on her.  Even after her "revelation" there was still a sense of sadness about the old ways of the south dying so I don't feel like Mrs. Turpin really learned a good lesson other than "Oh my they're really people after all!  Who knew?!".

To me Parker was merely a man that made a poor decision after an accident he had not taken time to contemplate.  Bad things just happen and it's pure coincidence, not muddled messages from a supposedly supernatural being.  He knew his wife didn't like tattoos and took a fundie approach, so I think he really got the tattoo for himself while riding on a "spiritual" high.  He liked getting tattoos for the attention he got from the "wrong" type of people and every added one just fuels his self imposed struggle between what he perceives as the "good" and "bad" ends of the spectrum.

I know O'Connor's works were meant as a criticism of modern christian attitude to sway them back towards Orthodox Christianity, but the whole time I was reading her stories I kept saying to myself "If they were secular humanists they would find themselves much better off."
I'll end with an example of the quality of thoughts and language my classmates have been producing.


  1. "but she would have been better off taking responsibility for her actions and making better choices."

    I think that's my favorite bit

  2. Thanks for the comment! Yes, that is a strong feeling I get when I read a lot of "christian" literature. "Screw my role in this, I just need to talk to Jesus harder to make things better!"

    But in the end all the grandmother got for her prayer was 3 bullets in her chest and the chance to be left in a ditch with the rest of her family. Really makes you want to try the power of prayer, doesn't it?

  3. "Really makes you want to try the power of prayer, doesn't it?"

    haha yeah. The sad thing is, I think the people I grew up around would easily talk their way out of it. They would probably just say that God is bringing her home to a better place. It really is a situation where no matter what happens, God wins.