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An unsentimental writer’s love of God

At First Thoughts, William Doino Jr reviewed Uncommon Grace, a documentary on the life of novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor. Given that O’Connor’s stories are “stern and unsentimental”, it is a pleasant surprise to discover “how endearing and childlike O’Connor’s faith was – as Jesus said the faith of his disciples should be”.

This faith was tested by “a diagnosis of lupus erythematosus, the disease which killed her father. O’Connor suffered bouts of severe itching, joint pain, rashes and fatigue, though she rarely complained to others. She endured numerous blood transfusions and experimental hormone treatments.” Doctors gave her five years to live; O’Connor lived another 13. Indeed, “her most productive years of writing, after her diagnosis, occurred under the looming threat of death. This, perhaps more than anything else save her Catholic faith, is what gives her stories such vitality and power.”

O’Connor made a key decision, Doino wrote: “To become a daily communicant and humble herself before the Lord: ‘The mind serves best when it’s anchored in the Word of God,’ she wrote, in her marvellous collection of letters. ‘There is no danger then of becoming an intellectual without integrity.’”

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