Friday, December 20, 2013

Faith as a Romance

Last week, a friend sent me a review from The Christian Century of Carlene Bauer's first novel, Frances and Bernard, that came out earlier this year.  Written in epistolary form, it is loosely based on the friendship between Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell.  In writing the book, Bauer drew heavily on the letters of O'Connor and Lowell. Since I have not read the novel, I am not in a position to review it.  However, based on the review by Amy Frykholm in The Christian Century, Bauer's novel does not exactly follow the trajectory of either writer's life.  The author, instead, "illuminates interior dilemmas, asks theological questions, and explores the dimensions of a life of faith and of romantic love."  Like Flannery, Frances's faith is more robust and deeply rooted than Bernard's/Lowell's.  Unlike O'Connor, however, both Frances and Bernard wrestle with the doubts, challenges, and agonies of faith.  For these fictional characters, faith ends up being more of an "obstacle" than a "way forward."  In the end, their romantic love and artistic ambition "provide a greater sense of redemption than faith, which seems only to stir things up, create unanswerable dilemmas and cause the characters to live too much in their imaginations and not enough on the ground." While basing fictional works on historical characters can be problematic, Frances and Bernard sounds like a compelling read.  In closing, I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas.  Due to the way the holidays fall this year, Andalusia will be open during our regular hours the weeks of Christmas and and New Years.
- Mark

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