I don’t know much about Flannery O’Connor beyond what the article mentions. Nevertheless, two things immediately stuck me as I read this and I think they’re worth noting.
One came as I read this:
“Some of our worship services are so clean and antiseptic, led by grinning preachers and praise bands, talking about how happy Jesus makes us, that we forget that the Spirit prompts us to “groan” at our sin and the suffering all around us… Some Christians, then, can wonder if something’s wrong with them when they feel as though God seems distant, or when, despite all the smiles at church, they still feel guilty for the way their hearts don’t seem to match up with their hymns.”
A hearty “amen” to that! I wish I could say I don’t relate, but I do. And right now it’s where I live.
On the one hand, I understand we need to strive for excellence. We shouldn’t get bogged down in our own sinfulness or the suffering of the world. But there’s got to be a better balance for our culture.
Sometimes we fail to compassionately meet people in their struggles. Isn’t it easier (and ostensibly correct) to just tell people to find their happiness and joy in Jesus? But what if our hearts are having difficulty being gladdened by that truth day to day?
Second point: I found this article really refreshing. Why? Because it’s one Christian praising the work of another Christian even though they don’t line up theologically on major issues.
O’Connor was Roman Catholic while Moore is a Southern Baptist. Those positions are pretty far apart yet Moore recognized something in O’Connor’s work that he saw as helpful to those in his tradition.
This shouldn’t be surprising or refreshing, but it is.
How often do we read about petty infighting instead of this kind of praise? In our noble quest for pure doctrine we’ve lost sight of our common ground. We’ve forgotten that as individuals we all have bents and we all overemphasize and underemphasize certain things. So do our churches and denominations.
Truth is truth, but Christ has many followers with many different perspectives. More often than not we have things to learn from other genuine believers – even those with whom we disagree theologically.