Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Prayer Journal

Book: A Prayer Journal
Author:Flannery O'Connor
Edition:Hardback from the Mountain View Public Library
Read:February 3, 2016
40 (96 including photo's of journal) pages
Genre:   Biography, Christianity
Rated: 4 1/2  out of 5

This is Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal from her early 20's.  Most of the time when you read something like this, the words written is only a prelude of what is to come. But here, O'Connor shows the depth of her thinking combined with the budding eloquence of her style and the yearning to be a better Christian for her God.

Undated Entries:
You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth's shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon.

 I do not know You God because I am in the way. So true, so wise. I do get in the way of your glory. Fortunately your glory is larger and brighter than I am dark.

My attention is always very fugitive. So many distractions, so much to have my mind wander. O'Connor describes me well here, I just wish my soul at 62 could be as deep as hers was at 20. Of course,  that does mean I would have to want and yearn for that instead of the weak wish.

You say, dear God, to ask for grace and it will be given. I ask for it. I realize that there is more to it than that--that I have to behave like I want it. O'Connor calls into question, do I really want to have grace cover me? Do I seek it? Or do I give it lipservice. Too often it is the later.

Please let Christian principles permeate my writings and please let there be enough of my writing (published) for Christian principles to permeate. This gets to the heart of being a Christian in our world. Am I enough of a Christian so that Christ is in me and throughout me? Do I show enough of Christ to have people see how God acts in this world?

Hell seems a great deal more feasible to my weak mind than heaven. No doubt because hell is a more earthly seeming thing.  Or because we see more signs of hell in our world than heaven.

Contrition in me is largely imperfect. I don't know if I've ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt you. I understand this because it is me. How can I love but repeat sin so much?

She says that she is reading Kafka and feels his problem with grace. What is this problem. Note to Gary-need to read about this. Sounds interesting. Apparently Kafka makes  grace sounds hard to obtain. It is O'Connor's pray that this not be so.

O'Connor, who is in grad school at this time, notes that it is easy to fall for the educated version of religion as being ridiculous.  But she does not. She builds a wall and tries to fathom what the reasons are for misery, for her lack of hope, not the easy answer of just let religion go away and then you do not have this problem.

I would like to be intelligently holy. So much better than being butt-stupid right. O'Connor looks  to sanctify her mind to be His, but not to do it via a lobotomy. That is how Christianity has done it traditionally until the last century. May we recover the intelligence to figure out what is good and holy and truthful from that which is passing and false.

One of the falsities of intelligence is the need to prove how intelligent you are. O'Connor understands this when she notes that she says things to put others down to show how clever she is. She also understands this cheapens herself. This is a note for me, do not raise myself by lowering others.

Who is Bernanos? Catholic author. O'Connor's comment is that his works are so wonderful.

The term mediocrity gets brought up several times. She is concerned that she will be content with only doing an OK job on her books. But she resolves to be old and beaten down before accepting it. But she also recognizes that she will not be a fine writer, but it is a gift from God. Like O'Connor uses a typewriter, God is using her. Mediocrity is what short changes that gift.

Denting submission denies God.  There is hope in Hell. You take it away, you take away sin, there is nothing to turn us to God. [Gary's words]: Sin leads us to despair and misery which in turn are the scourges driving us to Him. This is where the psychology of her day takes away hope by saying this is all we have is what we are. We are a mass of our own twisted vices

About half of the thoughts and quotes I had are gone from this blog. I will need to re-enter them again..

How could a young 20 something be so wise, so elegant in her writings? And these are not her polished writings she would later bring to the world, but a personal journal she was writing for herself. Not only that, but this is just a short book, about 40 pages of sparse writing,  but packed with personal searching. All which I can say is Read, Reflect, Reveal. Act..


New Words:
  • puerile: childishly silly and trivial
Good Quotes:
  • First Line: ...effort at artistry in this rather than thinking of You and feeling inspired with the love I wish I had.
  • Last Line: There is nothing left to say of me.
  •  I do not know You God because I am in the way. Undated Entries
  • My attention is always very fugitive.  Undated Entries
  •  You say, dear God, to ask for grace and it will be given. I ask for it. I realize that there is more to it than that--that I have to behave like I want it.   Undated Entries
  • I don't want to fear to be out, I want to love to be in.    Undated Entries
  • Give me the grace to be impatient for the time when I shall see You face to face and need no stimulus than that to adore You.     Undated Entries
  • Give me the grace, dear God, to see the bareness and the misery of the places where You are not adored but desecrated.    Undated Entries
  •  Every virtue must be vigorous. Virtue must be the only vigorous thing in our lives.  11/6/??
  • Sin is large and stale. You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomiteed. 11/6/??


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