Laws of the Flesh and the Physical

In 1955, Flannery O’Conner1 said, “Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.”2 I wonder what she would say about the whole world today. 2014 is a time in which we are “post-everything.” Many have given up on the Catholic Church, given up on Evangelicalism, given up on the Emergent Church, given up on logic, given up on science, given up on truth, given up on God. We go through the motions, looking like we are alive but the distinction between life and non-life is blurred. Consciousness is seen as a by-product of chemical and electrical processes. Is it any wonder the concept of zombies is enjoying a resurgence?

O’Conner shared her theological perspective on the laws of the flesh and the physical in a letter to her friend Betty Hester:

For you it may be a matter of not being able to accept what you call a suspension of the laws of the flesh and the physical, but for my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws.3

Starting in July of 1955, O’Conner wrote a number of letters to Hester, a woman to whom she became a spiritual mentor. O’Conner was Hester’s confirmation sponsor in the Catholic Church, continued to engage her in theological dialogue, and tried to sustain her friend’s faith. When Hester later left the church in 1961, professing agnosticism, O’Conner is said to have been deeply disappointed.4

1 Mary Flannery O’Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O’Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. Her pen name was Flannery O’Conner.
2 Flannery O’Conner in a letter to Betty Hester, September 6, 1955.
3 Ibid.

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