In the most recent issue of Dappled Things , Damian J. Ference provides an engaging assessment of the similarities between the works of Pope Benedict XVI and Flannery OConnor. In his article, No Vague Believer: The Specificity of the Person of Christ According to Flannery OConnor and Benedict XVI, Ference proposes that, although Benedict XVI and OConnor are writing at different times and in different genres, they share a common thesis, namely:
That the person of Christ is not simply a religious figure, or prophet, or political leader, or moral teacher among manybut that he truly is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and that all of human history and the entire meaning of human existence rises and falls specifically on himwithout exception.
The specificity of Gods nature as both human and divine as it is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is the point of convergence between Benedict XVIs work and that of OConnors, but the poignant comparison of these two authors comes to light with Ferences demonstration that each author, in their respective literary genres, were combatting what Ference terms vague belief. Vague belief, he
writes, has usurped specific belief in Christ, and is characterized by the de-divinization of Jesus, diminishment of Gods personal nature, and triumph of spiritualism without doctrine, dogma or savior.
Ference argues that each author deals with the crisis of vague belief by, addressing the power of Gods name and proposing an adequate understanding of the person of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior of the world. While such an argument might be somewhat more traceable in Benedict XVIs overt discussions of Christ, Ference gives memorable examples in OConnors work to illustrate this point, unpacking the Christian symbolism in each passage.
Read Ference’s case for pairing these two authors here .