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Book Review: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal

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For the past weeks I’ve read O’Connor’s prayer journal before falling asleep, then woke to make my morning meditation. It has been a very encouraging experience.

I love O’Connor’s stories, though I can’t always pick out the theme or meaning. O’Connor’s characters are the best. Some of the best elements of her stories are present in the journal. The brutal honesty that we get in her stories is clear in the journal. The attention to character is evident in the way her writing uncovers truths about herself.

However, reading the journal is completely different from reading her stories. There are very few metaphors or any other literary devices, though her genius at metaphor shines through on a couple of occasions like this paragraph from the first entry, “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon.” (page 3).

Most of the time her writing is a straight forward list of her thoughts.  I don’t know why certain paragraphs struck me, but this one from page 29 got recorded into my prayer journal. “I do not want to be lonely all my life, but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God.  Dear God, please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.”

The organization of the book and the individual entries is a bit muddled, but I think that an honest prayer life would have to be a winding, tumbling one.  The ending is abrupt, leaving me wanting more; but we can expect a satisfying ending on something Flannery never intended to publish.

This book was an enlightening peek into the mind of a very honest, very interesting woman. It encouraged me speak more honestly with God about my desires, failings and gratitude.

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Filed under: Book Reviews

About the Author

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Kathy Donlan teaches resource and special ed. CCD at St. Joseph Elementary School in Lincoln, NE. She is a wife and mother to three active boys. In her limited spare time she cartoons pictures of saints, writes about saints, reads about saints and plays video games.

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