Flannery O’Connor on Faith, Doubt, and Electric Blankets

Letters of Flannery O'Connor: The Habit of Being

Letters of Flannery O'Connor

I’m rather envious of my friend Mark; he works for Andalusia Farm, the home of the great Southern Gothic (and devoutly Catholic) author, Flannery O’Connor. Of course, I suppose Mark is envious of me working at the monastery, so that makes us even!

Anyway, today on his blog Mark posted a truly wonderful excerpt from one of Flannery’s letters, in which she discusses faith, doubt and mystery. Here’s a tidbit to whet your appetite:

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…remember that these things are mysteries and that if they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn’t be worth understanding. A God you understood would be less than yourself.

This quotation comes from Letters of Flannery O’Connor: The Habit of Being. But I would also encourage you to read Mark’s post, on the Andalusia Farm Blog.

Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
What Has Not Yet Been Revealed
In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech
Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://discombobula.blogspot.com Sue

    I’m not sure why I lost track of your blog, Carl, but it’s a delight to come back to it.

    I left a comment on one of your posts the other day about doubt but now I can’t seem to find it. But I love what you and Mark and Flannery say here. It’s true, the mystery is the mystery is the mystery, and we keep smashing our heads on the top of that. I guess for some it leads to doubt. I find it quite exhilarating in a way. I was just meditating on that before, how I have this desire for knowledge and understanding and using my mind to arrive at new vistas and how awesome that whole thing is. And so bumping up against the mystery of God and of faith can be sometimes frustrating, but ultimately it is the best sort of frustration :)