Friday, January 12, 2018

Book Review: The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor

This is no book that you sit back and peruse. This book reaches out and grabs you. Its protagonist is a young runaway caught in a fractured family who has been raised to be a backwoods prophet but won't have any of it. The most shocking part is that, by the end of the book, after a lot of horrible and/or funny things happen, you end up seeing the world through his eyes. A motif in the book is that the prophet will "burn your eyes" and that is exactly what happens to the reader (even if you are technically listening to it as an audiobook). There's a few weird bumps along the way -- the prophet's attitude toward baptism seems awfully Catholic for a backwoods preacher, and the ultimate baptism cuts the reader to the heart with its callous nature -- but even those are probably intentional. I took away two core messages from this reading: that which destroys also creates, and we delude ourselves with our tests and programs while our own reactions and sins betray a deeper meaning. O'Connor points to a true third way, neither right nor left but radical all the same.

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