Cancelling Flannery O’Connor


It’s almost as if our modern culture is expecting everybody to be perfect, and if not then they don’t deserve the light of day! So shameful and disappointing, especially coming from a once great order.

Pray for the Jesuits and pray for our modern society.

That was an interesting read. Thanks for posting it.

It would be well for someone to cite exactly what our dear Miss Mary Flannery actually said, that was so horrible. Couldn’t have been as bad as some of Margaret Sanger’s comments or Senator Robert Byrd’s erstwhile Klan membership.

I visited Flannery’s grave many years ago, in Milledgeville, Georgia. I have this thing about visiting the graves of Southern writers, including James Dickey and Edgar Allan Poe (Baltimore is Southern).

May she rest in blessed peace.


Eh, I’ve never been a big O’Connor fan. Not because I thought she was a big racist - for her place and time she was less racist than most, although more racist than is tolerable today - but because I found much of her writing to be heavy-handed and often just plain nasty, uncharitable, gross. I recently re-read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” as it had been a long time, and I was just as turned off by it now as I was when I read it the first time.

I think if one must name the dorms and so forth, it’s better to name them after saints and blesseds and venerables. Those people are generally uplifting. Authors and artists and such are often conflicted or have areas in the personal life that are not admirable. It doesn’t take away from their artistic works, but they are not the best role models for personal conduct.

Some articles on O’Connor’s racism:

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Thanks for the articles. Flannery’s racial attitudes, while not good, are probably fairly tame considering her time and place. I think she meant for her stories to be vaguely disturbing — the whole Southern Gothic “thing”.

And as an aside, if they were ever to make a movie of her life, Sara Gilbert would be an excellent choice to portray her — very strong resemblance. I wonder if anyone else has ever noticed that.

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Now that we are in a “Cancel Culture”, perhaps someone can cancel the Catholic Church in the US, for the racism of some if not many seminaries in the early 1960’s and before who would not take in a Black as a seminarian.

In fact, maybe someone - golly, maybe even Father Brian Linnane, S.J., could do some research on the Jesuit Order, and see how they were or were not racist in their past.

I really seriously detest virtue signaling, and his actions were just exactly that.

Racism is a reality, and any honest, unbiased research would show that not only racism but also tribalism exists in all cultures.

So do other sins, as racism is a sin, if anyone bothers to read the Gospels. Yes, absolutely, we all need to work on this sin, and our hearts, as much as with any other sin.

But in this world of sinners, I don’t see the Jesuits (and maybe they have done so - I simply have not seen it) going out and searching the backgrounds of people to determine if they were possibly closet pro abortion, or any other issue which indicates they were a serious sinner.

Having said that I have known multiple Jesuits who have striven to follow Christ by following their founders and saints, and am well aware that some of them seem to have wandered down paths they should not have trod.

And just as diocesan priests after Vatican 2 went down some “interesting” paths, not all did, nor can anyone with any possible accuracy determine how many did; I suspect it was a rather small minority, but when there were some 37,000+/- diocesan priests in the US in 1970, it is easy to say things which are not true; but simply very limited observations expanded as if it reflected reality. Coupled with that is the caveat that it is someone who does something unusual; the ones who do not do something unusual are never in the news. So perception becomes skewed to the news.

Flannery was and will continue to be a very important Catholic writer. Sadly, Father Brian Linnane, S.J. has now made his virtue signaling apparent to the world, and many will judge him in absentia as having no merit. That, too, fails to take in the good he may well do or have done.

And now we may see that we have amongst ourselves those who will judge him in absentia as unworthy of anything and never having accomplished anything worthy, , but rather castigate him and say, effectively, “Well, there goes another Jesuit” as if that suffices an honest judgement both of him and the Order.

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Yeah, I can handle her stories as being a snapshot of a particular time and place, similar to the writings of Lee or Capote or McCullers. But there’s definitely an overtone of her looking down on many of the characters, like they just don’t have enough self-awareness to realize that the educated people reading the book think they’re ridiculous or awful. There’s also a suggestion that if somebody is a pain in the neck, then they deserve to have something bad happen to them. I’ve had her work held up in some English classes as being “Catholic” writing and some people have even regarded her as being saint material. Given the lack of charity that seems to be pervasive not only through her stories, but also in her personal correspondence with friends, I don’t think she belongs on any sort of pedestal. Her writing has literary value but doesn’t really illustrate Catholic values.

She’s an important writer who happened to be a Catholic. If one was taking a course on American literature of the 20th century, I’d expect her works to be part of the course.

But I wouldn’t consider her a “Catholic writer” in the sense of illustrating Catholic teaching or Catholic values or the way Catholics should behave, through her writings. Most of her characters aren’t Catholic, and the stories aren’t about Catholicism.

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This is another example of why I would rather not know about the private lives, beliefs, politics and religious beliefs of famous people. I admire something they have done, and then it gets ruined for me when I see the person behind the book, music, movie, politics or anything else people are famous for.

There is no going back sometimes. I have not read any of Flannery O’Connors work yet, but no doubt this nugget of information will color my reading of her work.


You shouldn’t let that happen though, except to the extent knowing something about the person helps you to better understand/ appreciate their work.
Good work stands on its own, regardless of whether the creator in their private life did something socially frowned upon, whether it’s racist jokes or cheating on their spouse or whatever.

If I quit enjoying the written, visual art and musical works of everybody who I knew had a checkered personal life, I would be reduced to only reading/ listening to/ viewing the works of a handful of saints who weren’t the St. Augustine type.

Edited to add, I will confess I did get rid of a Richard Brautigan book once after I read a Rolling Stone posthumous article describing how once out of the blue (and probably suffering mental impairment at the time) he ate a live frog in front of his friends. We all have our limits and that was just too much ugh for me. But it was not a great literary loss to me :slight_smile:


I doubt Flannery would care.


I try not to let it bother me. In her case, I think some of it was the times she lived, and where she lived.

Hollywood types though, I have really been turned off by some to the point that I just am intolerant of watching anything they are in. :confused:

I don’t apply today’s ideas to how things used to be. It isn’t right to look back at some things with the way we may think today.


Sounds like a college stunt at a drinking party.

I had to skim this article to find out just how big this frog was (it wasn’t).

Guy sounds like a real piece of work.

In the long run, what’s really getting (self) cancelled is the Jesuits. Their institutions are increasingly Secular, their contribution to modern life is nearly always an echo to the dominant culture. (Yes there are individual exceptions.)

They are pulling out of cities, abandoning apostolates where they had a presence for over a century. This link has comments that sugar coat, minimize the decline, but look at the actual numbers.


Servant of God Thea Bowman is a better choice of patron for University students than Flannery O’Connor.

This kind of change has been going on for centuries, as part of the process for recognizing saints. Some people are revered, only to be discarded as more is learned about them.

Flannery O’Connor was a great writer with very Catholic sensibilities, and deserves to be praised in many situations. If a group of Jesuits decide the story of Thea Bowman is a better model for their students, they should be praised for promoting Catholic values.

To be fair, there’s A decent number of young guys joining the Jesuits, and they’re pretty solid guys, from what I’ve heard. I know one of them.

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It’s not a question of who is a “better choice”. This was not a new dorm that needed a name. If the dorm had been named for Thea Bowman I would be opposed to stripping her name off in response to current or future cancel culture.

The Jesuits historically were a mission order seeking to convert people in areas with a small percentage of Catholics. Once the Church got established in an area, they moved on. The logical place for them to be nowadays would be China and Japan, not cities in USA, unless they are involved with running universities, which are likely not going to be the Steubenville type. And I think that’s okay, because if you’re looking to reach out and connect with people who aren’t already committed Catholics, Steubenville isn’t a great model.

I agree that she’s a great choice. Although, I would have rather it been that they build a new hall and name it after her, not change the name of an existing one.

I’m an admirer of O’Connor’s work, so I may be a little biased. But I’m not a fan of changing names like this in general, because if we judge everyone by 2020 standards (especially if it’s the “progressive orthodoxy” doing the judging), then nobody would live up to the standard.

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