First Things RSS Feed - Paul V. Mankowski
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60Flannery O’Connor:A Lifehttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2003/03/flannery-oconnora-life
Sat, 01 Mar 2003 00:00:00 -0500 Writing of her mother, Flannery OConnor once told a friend, I always thought that if she had a dog shed name him Spot”without irony. If I had a dog Id name him Spot, with irony. But for all practical purposes no one would know the difference.
By its nature, irony is the most ephemeral of literary devices, and the wit, or malice, or affection it encrypts is inherently fugitive. Authors who trade in such wares must content themselves with a small audience even among their contemporaries, and the truly discerning readership inevitably diminishes with every passing year.
If Flannery OConnors work has suffered mischief at the hands of critics and commentators, her relentlessly mordant irony and deadpan self“mockery are partly to blame. She expressed her deepest affections in a prose so sardonic as to seem like abuse to the inattentive. I come from a family, she said, where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation. In some this tendency produces hives, in others literature. In me both. Few readers share her religious and political sympathies; fewer still her delight in the violently incongruous. She relished life in the South not in spite of but, in part, because of its homegrown absurdities. A self“described hillbilly Thomist, she made the heroes of her fiction not Catholics but Protestants”radical nonconformists, more accurately”who are in perpetual collision with the complacent heathendom that surrounds them. Perhaps the most explicit statement of her authorial intent is found in a 1963 letter written to a nun:
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Correctedhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/10/the-battle-hymn-of-the-republic-corrected
Fri, 01 Oct 1993 00:00:00 -0400(chanted to no tune in particular)
]]> The Skimpole Syndrome: Childhood Unlimitedhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/05/004-the-skimpole-syndrome-childhood-unlimited
Sat, 01 May 1993 00:00:00 -0400 Let me re-introduce you to Mr. Harold Skimpole. Skimpole lives in the pages of Charles Dickens’
; he made his first appearance 140 years ago, yet those who are acquainted with the principal hierophants of New Age spirituality may receive more than a slight shock of recognition:
]]> Assassins of a Lesser Godhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/03/004-assassins-of-a-lesser-god
Mon, 01 Mar 1993 00:00:00 -0500 Jesus: A Life
by A. N. Wilson
Norton, 269 pages, $22.95
]]> Why Universities Went Secularhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/01/005-why-universities-went-secular
Fri, 01 Jan 1993 00:00:00 -0500 The Secularization of the Academy
edited by George M. Marsden and Bradley J. Longfield
Oxford University Press, 323 pages, $35
]]> Academic Religion: Playground of the Vandalshttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1992/05/002-academic-religion-playground-of-the-vandals
Fri, 01 May 1992 00:00:00 -0400 “When you say hill,’ “ the Queen interrupted, “I could show you hills, in comparison with which you’d call that a valley.”
]]> What I Saw at the American Academy of Religionhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/1992/03/004-what-i-saw-at-the-american-academy-of-religion
Sun, 01 Mar 1992 00:00:00 -0500The American Academy of Religion, in its statement of purpose, calls itself “an inclusive learned society and professional association in the field of the study of religion. The Academy [we are told] fosters teaching, research, scholarship, and critical awareness about the study of religion as a humanistic field of learning.” The AAR was formed in 1964, grafted onto the stock of an organization call the National Association of Biblical Instructors, which bad its own beginnings in 1909, Curious about the treatment of religion in the university and about the functioning of this learned society, I decided to attend its Annual Meeting, to be held in November of 1991 in Kansas City. Never having been a member of the organization, I came not as a participant but simply to observe and (as will be seen) to take notes.
I made no preparations for the convention beyond a perfunctory attempt to gain some historical perspective by paging through Volume One (1933) of the
Journal of the National Association of Biblical Instructors.
A report on the Twenty-third Annual Meeting, held in 1932, showed that it was a modest two-day affair, including half-a-dozen addresses with such titles as “Recent Excavations in Palestine,” “The Bible and Modern Education,” “A School Principal’s Reactions to the Problems of Biblical Instruction,” and so forth. From the treasurer’s report I learned that the entire budget for NABI in the preceding fiscal year was $37
]]> Do You Believe What You Sing?https://www.firstthings.com/article/1991/04/002-do-you-believe-what-you-sing
Mon, 01 Apr 1991 00:00:00 -0500 Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste
by Thomas Day
Crossroad, 177 pages, $19.95
]]> Of Rome and Runnymede https://www.firstthings.com/article/1991/03/003-of-rome-and-runnymede
Fri, 01 Mar 1991 00:00:00 -0500Curious. Why should the
New York Times,
all see fit to carry the story of the promulgation of
Ex Corde Ecclesiae,
the papal declaration on the mission of Catholic universities? On the face of it, Vatican norms for higher education hardly seem to have national “news value,” especially from the perspective of those papers that have frequently strained the bounds of responsible journalism to the breaking point in order to reinforce the notion that the Vatican view of
is hopelessly inapplicable to our contemporary situation. Could it be that they protest just a little too much, that this is yet another instance in which the power brokers of a militant secularism see more clearly than Christians themselves bow the teaching Church cuts too close to the bone for anyone’s comfort?
]]> The Do-It-Yourself Catholic KiddieKism*https://www.firstthings.com/article/1991/02/002-the-do-it-yourself-catholic-kiddiekism
Fri, 01 Feb 1991 00:00:00 -0500Q. Who made you?