A Subversive Gospel is the type of book that will never find a large audience, but that I thank God (literally) that Christian academic publishers still publish.
This is my year of exploration of Flannery O’Connor, which I am probably doing it all wrong. I have only read her short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find and her Prayer Journal before deciding to read all of her fiction this year. I picked up a quick biography at the end of last year to give me a bit of context before I started. And then I was recommended A Subversive Gospel. A Subversive Gospel is oriented toward someone that is quite familiar with her work, especially The Violent Bear it Away, which is the most discussed work in A Subversive Gospel.
I did stop about 2/3 of the way through the book and quickly listen to the audiobook of Wise Blood to get a sense of O’Connor’s novel style. I will probably read A Subversive Gospel again, or at least parts of it, after I finish reading O’Connor’s fiction. Most of the book, while referencing her writing, I think was good preparation for reading her books. I am glad I read it when I did, so that I will hopefully get more out of, and enjoy the books more, because I understand them more.
There were five chapters in A Subversive Gospel. The first is about O’Connor’s theological influences, primarily Baron von Hugel. The second was about O’Connor’s moral vision and how she understood the world around her theologically. The third was about her dramatic vision for her writing and is a lot about the style and choices that she made writing. The final two chapters are about several short stories and then the Violent Bear it Away as examples of how the previous three chapters work out in her writing.
This type of book is really an example of why I often wish I had been a literature major instead of a sociology major in college. I learned a lot from my sociology, but learning about how to be a better reader is one of my goals as a reader, and this is a book that really does help me become a better reader, not only of O’Connor, but more broadly as well.