Academic journal article Theological Studies

Flannery O'Connor: Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Flannery O'Connor: Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity

Article excerpt

Flannery O'Connor: Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity. By Timothy J. Basselin. Waco, TX: Baylor University, 2013. Pp. xi + 146. $29.95.

Basselin introduces the potential intersections between theological and disability studies in O'Connor's works. With a literary critic's insight, B. surveys O'Connor's grotesque characters--initially on the periphery and often despised--for the mystery and the mirror that many of them embody in their abnormality. In O'Connor's fiction, the mirror image of the grotesque exposes the hypocrisy of the central characters, often reckoning divine judgment upon themselves, while a divine grace emanates from the grotesque characters in their midst.

To contextualize his thesis on O'Connor's theology of a disabled humanity, B. explores O'Connor's reflections on the introduction she wrote for the biography of a very sick young girl (Mystery and Manners [1957]). Mary Ann was not a fictional grotesque but a child of three with facial deformities, persistent tumors, and cancer treatments, cared for by the sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home in Atlanta until her death at age twelve. Writing that introduction, B. argues, O'Connor gained new insight into both her preoccupation with the fictional grotesque other--as person, moral failure, and sin--and her own adult onset as grotesque from lupus-related disabilities. …

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