Monday, May 7, 2012

The Christian novelist

Several of the quotations among these "8 Quotes from Christian Authors about the Importance of Good Fiction" are from Flannery O’Connor's  Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose:
“People are always complaining that the modern novelist has no hope and that the picture he paints of the world is unbearable. The only answer to this is that people without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won’t survive the ordeal.”

“Where there is no belief in the soul there is very little drama. The Christian novelist is distinguished from his pagan colleagues by recognizing sin as sin. According to his heritage he sees it not as sickness or an accident of environment, but as a responsible choice of offense against God which involves his eternal future.”
And from an "interview" with Flannery O’Connor created by Marvin Olasky using quotations from the same book:
WORLD: What’s the difference between a Christian novelist and a naturalistic (or materialistic) one?

O’CONNOR: The novelist is required to create the illusion of a whole world with believable people in it, and the chief difference between the novelist who is an orthodox Christian and the novelist who is merely a naturalist is that the Christian novelist lives in a larger universe. He believes that the natural world contains the supernatural. And this doesn’t mean that his obligation to portray the natural is less; it means it is greater. ....

WORLD: Why do you call lots of religious novels “sorry”?

O’CONNOR: The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns . . . by beginning with Christian principles and finding the life that will illustrate them. . . . The result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous. ....

WORLD: Are you overly hard on some Christian writers? Can’t even poorly written religious novels with pious characters be edifying?

O’CONNOR: Poorly written novels —no matter how pious and edifying the behavior of the characters —are not good in themselves and are therefore not really edifying.

WORLD: But can’t God use them for good?

O’CONNOR: We have plenty of examples in this world of poor things being used for good purposes. God can make any indifferent thing, as well as evil itself, an instrument for good; but I submit that to do this is the business of God and not of any human being.
8 Quotes from Christian Authors about the Importance of Good Fiction | St. Peter's List, WORLDmag.com | Interview with Flannery O’Connor | Marvin Olasky