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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hess

The Continued Significance of O'Connor

As my series on O’Connor’s life and work comes to an end, I thought I would leave you with some of my thoughts about her continued significance for today. Feel free to leave your comments below or message me with your own thoughts about Flannery O’Connor’s life and stories that have spoken so much truth to so many years.

O’Connor's writing was relevant for her own context, but her voice still has much to say to the world today. O’Connor’s use of crisis situations and reversals as avenues of God’s grace is something that is important for the church to remember and internalize. It can be difficult to see how painful and disruptive situations can beneficial, but, as O’Connor shows, these situations can bring us to a realization of our sin and our need for God’s grace.

O’Connor’s constant use of the most atypical people to act as vehicles of God’s grace is also important for us to keep in mind. We do not often look to people like The Misfit or the thieving Bible salesman to learn something about ourselves or grace, but O’Connor reveals that, even through these least likely of people, we can receive a revelation from God.

I also think O’Connor’s skepticism about the human condition is important for us today. Just like in her own time, many today, even in the church, think that we are not only able to bring restoration to this hurting world, but that it is our role to do so. Her stories reveal, however, that we all have issues that we must reconcile in our own hearts; it is only by God’s grace that we will come to see what these issues are and begin to take steps towards healing. It can be difficult to look at The Misfit and see ourselves in his murderous eyes, but if we are going to be honest with ourselves, and this world, the church needs to see the sins of the world in our own hearts and the need for God’s redemptive grace alone to bring healing.

Finally, O’Connor’s sobering critique of the secularizing effects of modernity is all too evident in today's world. In her own time, a life based on belief in nothing but one’s own selfish desires led to many atrocities; today the same nihilism is continuing to cause devastation worldwide. If only this world would come to see (like the Grandmother of A Good Man Is Hard To Find) that the only outcome of faithlessness is destruction. Such wisdom gleaned from O’Connor’s stories, will continue to act as a call to repentance to a world lost in the worship of nothing but itself and a church often too distracted and comfortable to point to the One who alone deserves all of who we are.


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