Literature and Spirituality Weekend Onsite Retreat

Jul 29th, 2022 @ 5:00 PM
- Jul 31st, 2022 @ 11:00 AM

(All Event Times Listed are Central Standard Time)
St. Mary’s Sewanee
770 St. Mary's Lane
Sewanee, TN 37375

Literature and Spirituality Weekend Onsite Retreat

Join us for a weekend exploring the connection between literature and spirituality. Leading this program will be Victor Judge, a new member to the St. Mary’s Sewanee programming team.

In her essay titled “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” the modern American literary-theologian Flannery O’Connor (1925–1964) states, “…fiction is hard if not impossible to write because fiction is so very much an incarnational art. …Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.”

The canon of Flannery O’Connor may be read in a literary register and in a theological register because when writing fiction, O’Connor also is writing, or revealing to the reader, her “theology of writing.” As an uncompromising realist, she puts flesh and blood upon the characters she conceives from within her imagination before releasing them into action on the stage of the human condition. During this retreat, we shall read and discuss from O’Connor’s canon the short stories:

“The Partridge Festival,” (O’Connor’s critique of sacrosanct traditions and pageantry)

“The Enduring Chill,” (O’Connor’s indictment of pseudo-intellectualism and her deconstruction of the myth of the suffering artist)

“Everything that Rises Must Converge,” (O’Connor’s indictment of segregation and her variation on the scholarship of theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“A Late Encounter with the Enemy” (O’Connor’s critique of romanticizing the Civil War)

whereby we shall examine how her understanding of her vocation as a literary artist intersects seamlessly with the theological grammar of the Gospels. We also shall study O’Connor’s incarnation of the pathology of the Jim Crowe South in which she lived.

The presenter for the retreat is Victor Judge who serves as the assistant dean for academic affairs and as lecturer in literature and religion at Vanderbilt University Divinity School where he teaches courses in the religious questions in the canons of William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., Albert Camus, Flannery O’Connor, as well as a course in writing creatively about religion. He serves as editor of The Spire, the Divinity School’s magazine, and is on the faculty of the Vanderbilt Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning. His vocation as an educator also involves teaching in the religious education and formation programs in congregations and communities of faith.

Bookings are closed for this event.