Comforts
Of Home

The Flannery O'Connor Repository

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Who is Stephen Sparrow?

Stephen Sparrow is a self confessed O’Connor fan, although he never read a word she wrote until the age of fifty-five. He is a Catholic and resides in New Zealand. To those who may be dismissive of literature written by Catholics as being out of touch or behind the times, Sparrow advises extreme caution by saying only the Catholic knows what it’s like to be Catholic in much the same way that only the Negro knows what it’s like to be black. To give some backing to this viewpoint, he quotes from a letter O’Connor wrote to Louise Abbott in 1959.

I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.

The essays posted on Comforts of Home are the result of question and answer sessions Mr. Sparrow conducted with himself and based on applying O’Connor’s formula of Original Sin to the circumstances of every day life. In the Old Testament the Book of Genesis recorded the origin of sin and for anybody to deny its existence is (in Mr. Sparrow’s opinion) a clear ‘stepping away’ from reality and of course the only remedy for sin is repentance through Christ’s Redemption (The Mercy of God.) The opposite and only alternative to belief in Christ’s Redemption is summed up by O’Connor’s character Hazel Motes from Wise Blood who famously said.

Listen you people. I’m going to preach there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from and no Redemption because there was no Fall and no Judgement because there wasn’t the first two. Nothing matters but that Jesus was a liar…

Where you came from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

Stephen Sparrow says that, for him, "the magnetism of Flannery O’Connor’s stories is bound up with her genius in being able to portray through her art, the human condition of trying to flee this world without paying."

If you're up for a good book, Stephen's novel Rahnuk is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition. You can find an example of Stephen's architectural/travel writing at Ignatius Insight, and you  might gain a bit more insight into the workings of Stephen Sparrow's mind by reading his articles "Evolution: Part of God's Grandeur" and "Goaded or Guided", that take an interesting perspective on the religious implications of one of the 20th century's most important scientific theories.

© 1995: Brian Collier and Comforts of Home

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