Culture: April 2009 Archives

An International Flannery O'Connor Conference

flannery o'connor.jpg

The April 20-22, 2009 conference was sponsored by the Poetics & Christianity which is "an international forum for studying the intersection of artistic culture and expressions of religious faith, with a special emphasis on narrative and dramatic arts. It offers a meeting place for scholars and artists of diverse fields of expertise."

The O'Connor Conference was the 4th gathering of scholars and other interested parties matters pertaining to art and faith. Since Flannery O'Connor is relatively unknown in Europe, Father Wauck felt it was time to introduce the world to writer who lived her Catholic faith and wrote fiction using Catholic sacramentality. Father Wauck said,

"Flannery O'Connor's fiction offers an example of what Catholic art can achieve when it's fully informed by a sophisticated theological understanding, a rigorous philosophical background, and also the kind of dedication to craft, to the artistry of writing that she combined."

A video clip on the conference can be seen here.

Mary Ann Glendon has declined the Laetare Medal given by the University of Notre Dame.

I believe this is the type of witness to Jesus Christ we hunger for from the depths of our heart.

Read her letter to Father Jenkins here.

shakespeare.jpgToday marks William Shakespeare's 445th birthday.

Today also marks the 393rd anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.

Some note that there is a record of his baptism on April 26,1564. With many important figures such as Shakespeare, it is common to list the date of birth and death as the day when accurate records lack.

Whatever the case is, we honor the Bard today.

The gloominess of today's weather leads to a gloomy feeling that all is not well in the world. Of course, it is Holy Saturday which in itself is a bittersweet experience: the Paschal Mystery is intense and the drama of the sacred Liturgy causes me to reflect more deeply on important matters: human desire, cooperation with truth, faithfulness, interior and exterior peace, love, salvation, God, Chris't atonement, etc.

The spiritual intensity of the day has led me to think of how some cultural commentators are looking at life through the lens of Christian faith seeing a dismal experience of Christianity and the reduction of man and woman to the courseness of existence. I am beginning to see that we are living a dark period of history. Let me give three examples that depress me, all come from today's edition of the New York Times: "Washington Churches Eye a Prize: The Obamas," "In Another Recession Sign, an Uptick in Vasectomies" and "Spain Steps Into Battle With Itself on Abortion." For me, these articles show to what extent that many people are willing to go to reduce the experience of faith to a commodity, life to a matter of "rights and progressivity" and the sexual intercourse to economy and self-centeredness. All three articles strike me as examples of desperation because know of them really demonstrate to me that following Christ (or any religious sensibility) means anything. Has truth, the dignity of human life and a healthy sexuality been totally replaced by radical subjectivity, nihilism and hedonism?

The Spanish interlocutors make the claim of trying to change the current abortion law as a matter of humanity suggesting that not to change the law is to live in a barbourous society. It's quite the opposite: you're humanity is diminished by acting selfishly and cruelly toward the unborn. How is killing the unborn giving a woman a dignified humanity when abortion is part of the matrix? The abortion proponents argue that they want a state that is "progressive," like other Western nations except Ireland. To what are they progressing? Death? A culture where death is the hallmark and not life.

On Holy Saturday I have to say that our society is leaping toward madness and not to great freedom and certainly not toward communion with God and life with Him.

Japanese martyrs.jpgThe martyrdom of Japanese Christians in the 17th century is the subject of a film being produced by the Italian-American director Martin Scorsese. The film is based on the novel Chinmoku ("Silence") written by Japanese Catholic writer Endo Shusaku [1923-1997]. He describes the persecution suffered by Japanese Christians during Edo period, especially in the Nagasaki region. The novel, written in 1966, tells the story of a Jesuit Portuguese missionary in Japan in early 17th century, during the time of the anti-Christian persecution. The title, "Silence", harkens back to the silence of God in front of Christ's cross, and recounts the forced recantation of the faith by the missionary after enduring horrendous torture. The books of Endo Shusaku reflect his special research of Christianity in the oriental culture, and present his particular vision of human fragility, sin and grace. The announcement of the film comes shortly after the beatification of 188 Christian martyrs of that period. That event took place on the 24th of November 2008. According to Japanese bishops, this event represented a milestone for the history Japan where the Christian religion had been prohibited for centuries. Shooting will begin around the end of the year in New Zealand. (courtesy of the Jesuit Press)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from April 2009.

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