Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Sacramental Imagination

Have you ever read a book and walked away feeling that it was Catholic literature, when there wasn't actually any overt mention of Catholicism in it? Catholic blogger and Sci-Fi writer Ann Lewis examines this occurrence, which she calls sacramental imagination, in this post.
What is it that makes a piece of literature seem Catholic to non-Catholic readers? Some might read say: Tim Powers Declare and/or J.R.R. Tolkein's Ring trilogy and they say: well that's Catholic literature! Tim was told his book was "overtly Catholic" and was criticized for it (he still won the World Fantasy Award for it by the way...'nuff said ). But how so? What makes it that way? Tim's work, among all writers, is actually NOT overt in this way.

The truth is, I am a practicing Catholic, right? This is going to be there in my writing - this kind of spirituality, which is a quiet, deep, personal relationship with Christ (despite some claims to the contrary) is imbued in our everyday lives, and often inseparable and indistinguishable from what we are. Most can sense the Catholicism of writers like Tim or even Flannery O'Conner - but they cannot say for certain where or what it is. It is a culture steeped in faith, a spiritual culture that calls us to see the physical world as an extension of the metaphysical or spiritual. As a result, reflections of the physical world in any form of self expression will reveal this spiritual culture.

Good stuff! Be sure and read the follow-up post about Catholic author Dean Koontz!


jdavidb said...

The Matrix was interpreted to be symbolic of everything under the Sun. (And then we got the sequels which actually attempted to do just that, and turned out to be symbolic of nothing except confusion.) Among other things, The Matrix was a symbol of religion, a symbol of the power of youth revolutionizing the world, and (my favorite) libertarianism.

Personally, I come away from many works feeling that they is profoundly anarcho-capitalistic.

La Mama Loca said...

I just read Koontz for the first time. All of his work that I've read was the Odd Thomas trilogy. Interestingly, while reading Odd Thomas one of my main impressions was that he wrote with a Catholic imagination. I highly recommend that trilogy, at least.

Stephanie said...

I haven't read him myself, but I'm afraid he's going to have to be added onto my ever growing list of books to read. So much literature, so little time!!!!