Cathedrals of Bone
The Role of the Body in Contemporary Catholic Literature
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title, Copyright, Dedication
Early conversations with Giles Gunn led me to reconsider and reorganize my thinking about the relationships between literature, religion, and denominational identity. A final...
Introduction: The Body, Flesh and Bone
It is as clear for the writers to be discussed here as it was for Leo XIII that, when one brings the strongest attributes of imaginative literature to bear directly upon Catholic faith and practice, liturgy becomes the primary site of interaction. Moreover, when...
1. Discovering the Body: Catholic Literature after Vatican II
Because the panegyric discourse of Vatican II strives to embrace such a broad vision of the Church, it tends to laud the social dimension of the faith. Of course, Catholicism has a long and rich tradition of social engagement. Nevertheless, this council emphasized...
2. Writing and the Catholic Body: Mary Gordon’s Art
Mary Gordon has said of that marvelous pre–Vatican II writer Flannery O’Connor that ‘‘For O’Connor, the habit of art . . . began with the habit of looking. It was,’’ Gordon insists, ‘‘the peculiar habit of her genius.’’ Several of Gordon’s own critics have used...
3. Preserving the Body: Annie Dillard and Tradition
In an essay entitled ‘‘Expedition to the Pole,’’ first published in The Yale Literary Magazine in 1982 and republished as part of the collection Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard describes the experience of ‘‘attending Catholic Mass.’’ She has been going, she...
4. Clothing Bodies/Making Priests: The Sacramental Vision of J. F. Powers, Alfred Alcorn, and Louise Erdrich
There is a scene in J. F. Powers’ 1988 novel, Wheat That Springeth Green, in which the protagonist, Father Joe Hackett, is watching television in one of his favorite positions: reclined in a Barcalounger with drink in hand. His attention is evenly divided...
5. The Body in Doubt: Catholic Literature, Theology, and Sexual Abuse
On 20 June 2005, about fifty people gathered at the diocesan headquarters of the Catholic Church in America’s heartland, Davenport, Iowa, to dedicate a monument to victims of clergy sexual abuse. During the ceremony they surrounded the ‘‘Millstone Marker,’’ a...
6. The Body ‘‘As It Was’’: On the Occasion of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ
On 22 January 2004, Peggy Noonan, columnist and contributing editor to the Wall Street Journal, recounted her efforts to report accurately papal reaction to the year’s most popular artistic work about the human body by a Catholic: Mel Gibson’s film...
Conclusion: The Body Mutinies
In a collection of poems from her book Decreation, the Canadian Catholic poet and essayist Anne Carson reflects on time spent with her elderly mother, who suffers from both an aging body and mind. In the course of fourteen pieces that constitute the...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2009