Why Christians need Flannery O'Connor
In her "Prayer Journal," Flannery O'Connor says of sin, "You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomited," but, she immediately concludes, "perhaps that is too literary a statement; this mustn't get insincere."
December 15th, 2013
06:53 AM ET

Why Christians need Flannery O'Connor

Opinion by Russell D. Moore, special to CNN

(CNN) - On my Christmas list of gifts to buy my evangelical friends, there's a little book of prayers.

This is less predictable than it may seem, since the prayers aren't from a celebrity evangelical preacher, but from a morbid, quirky Catholic who spent her short life with pet peacocks and wooden-leg-stealing Bible salesman stories.

But I think Flannery O'Connor's newly published "Prayer Journal" is exactly what Christians need, maybe especially at Christmas.

The book, recently discovered in the writer's papers in Georgia and now published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, reproduces the handwritten notebook prayers scribbled down by O'Connor during her years as a student at the University of Iowa.

The prayers are jarring because they are so personal and raw, clearly not written to "edify the saints" in a published manuscript. They are, well, just prayers.

Part of the rawness and authenticity of the prayers come with the way O'Connor refuses to sentimentalize her personal relationship with Jesus (thought it's clear she has one). She is here constantly aware of her own fallenness and of the seeming silence of the God to whom she pours out these little notes.

O'Connor notes that her attention is "fugitive" in prayer. She confesses that hell seems more "feasible" in her mind than heaven because, "I can fancy the tortures of the damned but I cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God."

She is constantly second-guessing whether her prayers for success as a writer are egocentric, or a genuine striving to use the gifts God has given her.

Moreover, O'Connor is constantly aware that she is a sinner, and she can't get around that. Perhaps the most widely publicized sentence in the book is her confession that she "proved myself a glutton, for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There's nothing left to say of me."

Even when she's confessing sin, she seems aware of her sinfulness in doing that. She says of sin, "You can never finish eating it nor ever digest it. It has to be vomited," but, she immediately concludes, "perhaps that is too literary a statement; this mustn't get insincere."

O'Connor's prayers are hardly "inspirational," in the sense that many American Christians want: a model of the "victorious Christian life" where "prayer changes things" and we've got "joy, joy, joy, down in our hearts, to stay." That's why we need them.

American evangelicalism, my own tradition, rightly emphasizes the biblical truth that the gospel is good news, that our sins are forgiven in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We rightly emphasize that the believer now has a personal connection to God, accessible in prayer through the priesthood of Jesus himself.

But sometimes we forget how hard that is in this time between the times.

Some of our worship services are so clean and antiseptic, led by grinning preachers and praise bands, talking about how happy Jesus makes us, that we forget that the Spirit prompts us to "groan" at our sin and the suffering all around us (Romans 8:22-23). This is especially true at Christmas, with so many evangelicals forgoing the dark longing of Advent to go straight to the tinsel-decked rejoicing of Christmas.

Some Christians, then, can wonder if something's wrong with them when they feel as though God seems distant, or when, despite all the smiles at church, they still feel guilty for the way their hearts don't seem to match up with their hymns.

But the good news isn't that we are all put together. The good news is that though we're wrecked and fallen and freakish, Jesus loves us anyway and has made peace for us with God and with each other. That's not something we always feel. We see it by faith.

O'Connor, elsewhere in her letters, writes of what it means to agonize over one's sin, to wonder "if your confessions have been adequate and if you are compounding sin on sin." She concludes that this agony "drives some folks nuts and some folks to the Baptists," while noting, "I feel sure that it will drive me nuts and not to the Baptists."

Those of us who were "driven to the Baptists" can benefit from a book of prayers that remind us that the Christian life is exactly what Jesus promised it would be - the carrying of a cross.

We can be reminded in prayers such as these to remind ourselves that between now and resurrection we will never be, in ourselves, anything other than sinners. That's why we need a Christ.

It's only when we grapple with the darkness of a fallen cosmos, only when we're honest about the fact that all our efforts look more like Herod's throne than Bethlehem's stable, that we can sing "Joy to the World." Flannery O'Connor wasn't an evangelical Protestant, but we need her.

We need her, especially perhaps, as we pray for peace on earth, goodwill to men, for Christmas in a Christ-haunted world.

Russell D. Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns. The views expressed in this column belong to Moore alone. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Baptist • Belief • Bible • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Christmas • evangelicals • Faith • Holidays • Prayer

soundoff (1,505 Responses)
  1. Bender Bending Rodriguez

    I am religious but I don't force my beliefs onto others. Would some people on this blog prefer that I don't go to church?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Just try and use critical thinking in whatever you do and the world will tend to be better for it.

      December 17, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  2. Robert Brown

    I think of predestination in context of “For God so loved the world….” We are all predestined to be reconciled to our loving heavenly father, and yet some exercise their free will and reject him.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Dolores

      How many gods are you rejecting?

      December 17, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Andy

        Good point. Religious people always make it out like there's only two choices–believe in their god or don't believe in any god. In reality, they are rejecting all the possible gods except one. Atheists just take it one step further, so there's really not such a big difference.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • Robert Brown

        That really doesn’t make any sense Delores. If I believe in God, then I am persuaded that the God I believe in is God. From this perspective it is quite reasonable to reject other God’s. If I believe there is no such thing as God, then I have no partiality.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:34 am |
        • Dolores

          Makes lots of sense. You are aware of the claims of the existence of lots of other gods, supported by holy texts, yet you reject those gods. Those who believe in one of the other gods but reject your god are acting similarly. Atheists simply reject them all.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Robert Brown

          It really doesn’t, a reasonable person will have very strong reasons for their belief. Rejecting any other god, in favor of the one they have experienced is not the same as rejecting them all. If you reject them all, you do so because you have never had an experience with any of them.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Dolores

          "If you reject them all, you do so because you have never had an experience with any of them."

          See, atheism isn't so confusing after all, is it?

          December 17, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          how about all the earlier gods that your god is a blatant copy of?

          December 17, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • Madtown

          the God I believe in is God
          Sure, but the RELIGION you select is dependent on arbitrary factors, such as place of birth. If God exists, and there's only 1 God, it could be that each religion refers to the same ent.ity, but they've just developed different traditions and methods of thinking about this ent.ity. Religions are man-made.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Dyslexic doG,
          How about, before things were put in survivable writing, other people heard of the one, true, and living God and plagiarized?

          December 17, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Andy

          Robert Brown – "How about, before things were put in survivable writing, other people heard of the one, true, and living God and plagiarized?"

          Even you must recognize what a stretch that idea is.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • Robert Brown

          I agree religions are man-made and you could be correct that everyone is worshiping the same God in the way they learned.
          Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus. Christ is the one I have experienced, so no other will do for me.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Robert Brown

          I don’t think that is any more of a stretch than what doG wrote.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • Madtown

          Christ is the one I have experienced
          The greater point, is that if you had been born in a different region with no access to christianity, you would not have this experience, you'd have a different experience. This illustrates the arbitrariness of religion preference, and how no one can claim their preferred religion is the "correct" one.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Robert Brown

          You may know that Jesus said he is the only way. For the sake of humanity, I hope you are correct that he has revealed himself to other cultures by a different name, or visits them as they pass, or forgives those who have no knowledge of him. Either way, I know God is good and his mercy endures forever.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Adam

          Robert Brown "a reasonable person will have very strong reasons for their belief"

          Ah, but that's where you are incorrect. Most have very weak reasons for their belief (mommy and daddy told them it was true, friends believe it so they do too, etc).

          December 17, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • fred

          You look right at the creative wonder of God in the infinite diversity of mans aesthetic awareness of existence yet something is obstructing the reality of God. You should look for that obstruction for understanding of the void in your heart rather than the continual excuses that justify personal godlessness.

          Certainly there are countless religions that attempt to answer the most important questions of existence science cannot answer and has readily admitted it cannot. Philosophy and religion answer that which science cannot answer and never in the existence of mankind has science been able to answer. Diversity of religion says nothing about the non existence of God it cries out to the very existence of God. God cannot be contained by man or anything known to man. We are seeking after something that is . There is no reason to seek after that which is not. History of mankind confirms this seeking and worship pattern from the earliest of human records.

          God has created our world so that each can find exactly what they desire. This plan as intended reveals who we truly are. Regardless of religion a true heart inclined towards God will find what they are seeking. A terrorist seeking virgins in the afterlife will find the empty evil associated with a life driven by physical lust. Now, the atheist and Christian agree on one thing, namely the physical will pass away as all organic matter without life becomes dust. Any religion or person seeking after physical desire will find the emptiness (void) or worthlessness of carnality. Those who seek God will find God and there is the eternal. Life is not in the things of this world as we agree the things of this world will pass. It is called death for a reason. Life is in God period no where else. Everywhere outside of God you find what the atheist finds, organic matter reacting to chemical stimuli.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • WASP

          @fred: "Philosophy and religion answer that which science cannot answer"

          philosophy is for pondering why we do things.
          religion is for lying about why you did things.
          psychology (SCIENCE) is for explaining why you do things.
          neutro-biology is for explaining what regions of the brain are active during certain activities. i.e. lying

          so riddle me this bait-man...........what happens to YOU, when you have amnesia? you totally forget whom you are; so if you liked vanilla ice cream before your amnesia, now you love chocolate afterwards. so what happen? did your soul change? seeing according to religion YOU are your spirit inside a shell; thus a bonk on the head shouldn't affect your soul, only your brains.

          so why the change?
          there have been people with amnesia that were one way before and completely opposite during/after.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Madtown

          You should look for that obstruction for understanding of the void in your heart rather than the continual excuses that justify personal godlessness
          No void here, and I'm inclined to believe in God. I don't believe in religion, it doesn't answer the questions we have, despite what it says.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • fred

          Jesus was most hard on the religious of his day. Religion does tend to reflect man as it grows in power. Jesus pointed out how far the religion of the Chosen Ones had ventured from the knowledge of God they were tasked to bring forward. They were so far removed from their own truth that they themselves carried out the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God without awareness of what they were doing. As to all those present they were also in the dark as Jesus said "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"
          Now we turn the page and see the great religion of the gentile headed up by the Roman Catholic Church filled with the ways of man. Much like the Chosen Ones we have lost sight of the truth that we were to carry forward. Religion has again moved into darkness. History repeats itself and the End of Days is near. Just as Jesus came when the religious of that day reached the peak of depravity so he will come when hope in God is reduced to a small ember.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • fred


          Wham bang bonk you're Robin God of his glory! We don't know why things happen that way and certainly do not have capacity to understand it. The presumption is that with God it is a done deal, a closed loop so to speak. Everything we see happening is based on a time space relationship where we see things in terms of past, present and future. That construct we know actually rests as a small pencil line on the eternal landscape that is God. In short that Bonk on the head could be a good thing or a bad thing yet nothing has transpired which was not already complete in God. The is soul the residual of the essence of the person and reflects the mind and spirit of that person. In addition we have the knowledge of God already knowing what the at persons response and change of soul could or did result from a bonk.
          Golly Jeepers wasp how about an example we can deal with. What about the mind changing experience from a hit from a bong. Bong or a bonk its not the hit but the soul which God wants to savor.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the volition of man. They seem like a dichotomy, but the Bible never tries to reconcile it. So why do we?

      December 17, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Lof A
        You posted your theory yesterday that energy cannot be infinite. Maybe you could clear up a few things that physicists and cosmologists are pondering. What makes up the mass of the universe and can you describe the properties of the three main categories, thanks?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:28 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          First, it's not my theory, Aquinas got this ball rolling I believe...
          Furthermore, if you consider the entire Universe as a system, then that necessitates that it be a closed system. (The Christian denies this because he maintains that the universe IS acted on by an outside force, namely – God) The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that although energy in a closed system is constant (First Law of Thermodynamics), that energy is transforming into less usable forms of energy (i.e., the Universe is “running down”). This process is irreversible. If the Universe has always existed (i.e., it is eternal), but there is a finite amount of usable energy because there is no energy input into a closed system, then all usable energy already should have been expended, yet, usable energy still exists. So, the Universe cannot have existed forever. It had to have a beginning.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Here are the approximate figures, ordinary matter what we are and can see 5%, dark matter 27% and dark energy 68%. Now most of our known science is based on that 5%, if you can explain to the great scientist what the other 95% actually is the Nobel Prize is waiting for you. Unlike Christian apologetics, we do not know is a good answer. You keep making pronouncements that you have no proof for and that is what you call truth, LOL.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Charm Quark,
          Maybe this is a generational thing, but I keep seeing "LOL" and "LMAO" at the end of some people's posts... What does that mean?

          I don't make any claims to deep scientific knowledge, and I don't even own a telescope. What I can do is follow reason and logic, and if we assume that the universe is a closed system, and laws are in place that tell us that closed systems degrade and loose usable energy, then the only logical conclusions are:
          1) The universe is not eternal
          2) The universe is not a closed system

          If the latter, what explanations are there? I don't know what secular explanations there are, but I'm doubtful that it will ever be observable.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Charm Quark

          That is your problem you have to assume far too much. Why is the universe a closed system dark energy is causing the acceleration of the expansion of the universe? Energy changes state it isn't used up, you would have to go to CERN and just get a basic knowledge of particle physics. Even the second law of thermodynamics has been challenged, look it up.
          PS: LOL laugh out loud, LMAO laugh my ass off, not surprised you would not know tis as you use decades old science in you propositions.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "not surprised you would not know tis as you use decades old science in you propositions."
          Hmmm, well, that may be, but the fact remains that all that science will ever be able to do is speculate on origins. And many of the things that scientists speculate on only exist in mathematical formulae. As it is right now, there is no model of an eternal universe that works. They begin with the assumption that there is no God, and they invent ideas that could explain him away, then make up math to make it look "scientific." But we live in a real world, and if mathematics do not align with observable reality, then it is just a math formula.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Really a conspiracy theory by scientists to make god look bad many of whom believe in a deity of their choice. I think you are confusing science with Christian apologetics the source of so many outright lies to make god look good. BTW scientists come from many cultures, counties and religions but you think they are ganging up on jesus. Your logic is pathetic.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • WASP

          @LOA: that was accually me, that started that ball rolling. 🙂

          and you even after i finished work couldn't find stable ground from which to debate with the others on here.

          energy CAN NOT created NOR destroyed.
          atoms consist of protons,neutron,electrons
          those particules ARE energy.
          if you combine 1 proton,1neutron and 1electron you get a single molecule of HYDROGEN. it's the first element of the periodic table, i wonder why? could it be because it was the simplest substance for a cooling universe to create?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Actually, I thought the logic was pretty sound in the argument, but everyone is enti.tled to their opinion.

          The supernatural exists, and is the only thing that can explain the existence of the natural.

          1. The physical universe exists.
          If it's a false illusion, then it isn't an illusion.
          If it's a true illusion, then someone or something must exist to have that illusion.

          2. Nothing can be self-created.
          The idea of self-creation is by all logic, formally and analytically false. It is self-contradictory and logically impossible. In essence, self-creation requires the existence of something before it exists. It is a logical and rational impossibility, because for something to create itself it must be before it is. This is impossible...

          3. Every physical ent.ity (natural ent.ity) is contingent.
          However concrete physical reality is sectioned up, the result will be a state of affairs which owes its being to something other than itself. Every physical state, no matter how inclusive, has a necessary condition in some specific type of state which precedes it in time and is fully existent prior to the emergence of the state in which it conditions. There is not one example in the physical universe of a physical quant.ity that explains its own existence.

          4. Contingent enti.ties are not eternal.
          Contingency necessitates a beginning, therefore a contingent ent.ity is not eternal.

          5. Since contingency exists, then a causal chain exists.
          Since it is impossible for something to create itself out of nothing (out of nothing, nothing comes), every effect is determined by a cause. That cause is in its turn determined by another cause. Hence, a causal chain.

          6. Infinite causal chains do not and cannot exist.
          An infinite series of causes with no beginning is a contradiction, as a causal chain by definition must have a beginning.

          7. Since a finite causal chain exists, then a Prime Mover / First Cause exists.
          The existence of a causal chain necessitates the existence of a prime mover, a first cause, otherwise the causal chain would not exist.

          8. The Prime Mover / First Cause cannot be contingent.
          Since infinite causal chains do not exist, the First Cause was itself uncaused.

          9. Since the Prime Mover / First Cause is not contingent, it is self-existing.
          Since logic dictates that nothing can be self-created, anything that is uncaused, has the power of being within itself – not self-created, but self-existence. That is, dependent upon nothing else for its existence.

          10. A self-existing (not self-created) ent.ity is supernatural.
          Since all physical (natural) ent.ities are contingent, then a self-existing, non-contingent ent.ity is supernatural

          December 17, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Charm Quark

          You have posted this multiple times and many have shot holes in your argument that contains so many false assumptions and conclusions, probably straight from an apologetics web site. I know you will never change, you can't but I hope to convince others that your posts are without merit, poor science and lousy logic.

          December 17, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • WASP

          @LOA: we do not "assume" there isn't a god, we go from the point of what can be tested. gods can not be tested seeing they don't exist. 🙂

          the running model for a universe without the requirement of a "god", is the very model i presented you with.
          your bias blocks you from looking at what HUMANS have achieved, without giving all credit to your flavor of god.

          on the basis that energy is eternal, then the thing has always existed was energy.
          time isn't a straight line, time as humans understand it truly is only a concept; it doesn't exist. time didn't "start" at any point that has already been shown to be true. if you die your "time" stops, however mine doesn't, why is that? because time is percieved by each person differently.

          space is the area inwhich energy resides, as "dark energy" forces the galaxies to spread apart, space will appear to have increased when in fact it hasn't.
          it's kindof like a fish thinking it's space has increased when it's bowl is poured onto the floor, value never changed just the area it takes up.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • WASP

          @LOA: "Charm,
          Actually, I thought the logic was pretty sound in the argument, but everyone is enti.tled to their opinion."

          now let's disect this for a second. lmao

          "i thought the logic was pretty sound in the arguement"
          MEANING: i couldn't find any logical way to debunk what was being said,thus it stood up to my scrutiny.
          "everyone is enti,.teld to their own opinion"
          MEANING: even though what was told made logical sense, i still opt to deny it and go with the illogical things i believe.

          i think that about sums that part up.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • G to the T

          I think LoA might be confusing quantum effects with macro ones. The former do not scale up to the latter.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          G to the T
          I believe LofA is just pulling BS off of an apologist website and posts it as if he knows what he is talking about, his science is decades old, his logic is faulty.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • tony

      Some others exercise free will and murder those who then can'texercise theirs

      December 17, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • tony

        When you murder the planned grandparents of people in the divine plan, before they procreate, then the plan goes out the window. Either that or the murders are predestined and thus free will goes out the window instead.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • G to the T

          Always wondered how a condom could foil "god's divine plan".

          December 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Andy

      The whole "free will" thing just doesn't work, since some people die much earlier than others and have far less opportunity to exercise it and reach informed decisions.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        “…God foreknows nothing by contingency (what is predictable as being possible), but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, “free-will” is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those who would assert “free-will” must therefore deny that God is sovereign.”
        -Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

        December 17, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • Andy

          Martin Luther was wrong.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Well, what does the Bible say on the matter then?

          December 17, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Andy

          Does it really matter what the Bible actually says about anything? It gets interpreted in so many different ways, each of which the interpreters are sure is right and all those other interpreters are misguided or deluded.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • G to the T

          So you agree free will is an illusion? If so, then what responsbility can anyone really have in a Biblical sense?

          December 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        I think those who die young and haven’t had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ are forgiven and will go to heaven. Jesus said “of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

        December 17, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • Andy

          So those who live longer are at a disadvantage in that regard... not an admirable system.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • G to the T

          By that logic – abortion would be a good thing as it guarantees entry to heaven. PS – "Age of Accountablity" is not a biblical belief.

          December 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          The age of accountability is a concept that teaches those who die before reaching the age of accountability are automatically saved, by God’s grace and mercy. The age of accountability is a belief that God saves all those who die before reaching the ability to make a decision for or against Christ.

          Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/age-of-accountability.html

          December 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • Madtown

          The Age of Accountability doesn't cover people who go their entire lives without ever learning about Christ, because God placed them in an area of the world with no christianity.

          December 17, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  3. tony

    If there was a god, there would be no church leaders needed.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Robert Brown

      He uses people to communicate his message to other people.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • tony

        But that misses 99% o the people he wants to communicate with. According to you, he already uses rainbows to get his messge about floods to everyone everywhere, instantly.

        What broke since?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Nothing is broke tony. God has used people to relay his message all through human history and continues to do so.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        What happened to omnipotence? Seems that would be easier than having self-selected people take the power.

        December 17, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Robert Brown

          It isn’t really a question of his power. It seems you are questioning how he exercises the power.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:48 am |
      • Charm Quark

        We know the christian god is still stuck in the first century when man created him, jesus don't tweet. Why do so many of his "messengers" turn out to be princes of the church or just plain scam artists?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Charm Quark,

          In some cases it is easy to tell. We are told we will know them by what they do. If the leaders actions do not line up with what the word of God teaches, you would do well to ignore them.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • G to the T

          R.B. "In some cases it is easy to tell. We are told we will know them by what they do. If the leaders actions do not line up with what the word of God teaches, you would do well to ignore them."

          You mean YOUR interpretation fo what the word of god teaches. By what criteria do you decide your interpretation is superior to theirs?

          December 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Matthew 7:
          15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

          16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather gra.pes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

          17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

          18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

          19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

          20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

          Galatians 5:
          19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

          20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

          21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

          22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

          23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

          December 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
      • Topher

        He uses people to communicate his message
        Why would he choose such a method? Humans are very fallible, he's well aware of this. Why trust us with his message, when he could communicate it more effectively himself, with no risk of human tainting?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:34 am |
        • Andy

          Interested in your answer to your question.

          December 17, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Exactly, so why won't the holy trinity expose themselves and set up a facebook like network to communicate the message? Why does he need someone like you who is so unbelievable?

          December 17, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • G to the T

          Great point CQ – why should I be damned because the messengers are so ineffectual?

          December 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • rational63

        Why? That seems like a really flawed method of communication! Why not just speak to the entire world at once! That would convince a lot of people to exercise their free will and choose to believe.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Mary

    Does Jesus watch me when I mastur.bate or does he turn his head?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  5. Mary

    Why do I sit here all day and ask puerile questions? Am I a simpleton?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Topher

      Why did my teacher make me wear that pointy hat and sit in the corner all those years?

      December 17, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  6. Mary

    Why do atheists presume to know what the nature of a creator they don't believe in ought to be?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • tony

      This isn' ta Zen blog 🙂

      December 17, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Maybe because your religion describes that nature.

      December 17, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Mary

        Why can't God answer prayers at a time of his own choosing?

        December 17, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  7. tony

    Spreading of Common Sense. Nothing wrong with being a mssionary and spreading those words is there?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  8. Mary

    Why do my 14 cats avoid my lap? Do they not like the smell?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  9. Dolores

    "She is here constantly aware of her own fallenness and of the seeming silence of the God to whom she pours out these little notes.... O'Connor's prayers are hardly "inspirational," in the sense that many American Christians want: a model of the "victorious Christian life" where "prayer changes things"

    Maybe she simply recognized that prayer never changed anything. After all, how could it? Since everything supposedly happens according to God's perfect plan, to suggest that a recommendation for a change to that plan from a puny human will be taken seriously is just silly.

    December 17, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  10. Mary

    Why has a religion blog become the domain of those who claim atheism is not religion?

    December 17, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • tony

      It is the duty of the sane to spread Common Sense. Nothing wrong with being a mssionary and spreading those words is there?

      December 17, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Is 'theism' a religion?

      December 17, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • G to the T

      Check again Mary – it's the "Belief Blog", not the religion blog.

      December 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    one year since the Newtown massacre.

    If I had the power to create the universe I wouldn't have let all those poor innocent children die in pain and horror.

    I am glad to say that's the difference between me and your god.

    December 17, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Damocles

      Yeah, but, would you create something that had imagination?

      December 17, 2013 at 1:57 am |
      • WASP

        i would have created a being that understood how not to be violent in my name or in any other sense. i think giving clear instruction that couldn't be "tampered with" by my creation would be another thing i would do. let's not forget instead of being the "dead-beat dad" i would visit and show my creations look, i am real and i "here let me help you".

        the gods of man are flawed because the ones that created those gods are flawed.

        ever wonder why god, a being that has no use for emotions like anger and so forth, is emotional?
        from a psychology stand point, give a being emotions and lock them away so that no one can explain to them how to use those emotions properly, anger isn't a bad emotion,nor is love a good one. they are just emotions.

        a being such as that would have the mentality of a child and see his creations as play things, without the concept of death seeing it can not die. if it breaks it's toys, it has the power to create more so what would it matter if a toy broke while it was playing with it?
        the very concept of GODS from a psychology stand point they would be dangerous things, powerful enough to create and destroy without the knowledge of why they should or shouldn't. now that's scary. imagine your 5 year old with that kind of power.

        December 17, 2013 at 6:20 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          well said!

          December 17, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • WASP

          why thank you dyslexic. 🙂

          i try my best.........................while being paid to sit here and harrass people for no other reason than i can. lmfao

          December 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Damocles

          Yes, I have said it a few times that the idea of an all-everything deity really does lead to pretty much nothing. It couldn't create without destroying, couldn't make a descision without second guessing itself. Nothing would get done. Why create anything in the first place? If it is eternal and everything, it has everything it needs.

          December 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    One True, please open the hearts and minds of believers to the erotic thoughts of Flannery O'Connor. Impress upon them their need.


    December 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  13. 7

    Everyone is welcome to visit ...


    December 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

    Christian: What's this thing? "CHRISTIANES EUNT DOMUS"? "People called Christians they go the house?"

    Brian: It... it says "Christians go home".

    Christian: No it doesn't. What's Latin for "Christian"?

    (Brian hesitates)

    Christian: Come on, come on!

    Brian: (uncertain) "CHRISTIANUS".

    Christian: Goes like?

    Brian: "-ANUS".

    Christian: Vocative plural of "-ANUS" is?

    Brian: "-ANI".

    Christian: (takes paintbrush from Brian and paints over) "CHRIS-TIA-NI". "EUNT"? What is "EUNT"?

    Brian: "Go".

    Christian: Conjugate the verb "to go"!

    Brian: "IRE"; "EO", "IS", "IT", "IMUS", "ITIS", "EUNT".

    Christian: So "EUNT" is ...?

    Brian: Third person plural present indicative, "they go".

    Christian: But "Romans, go home!" is an order, so you must use the ...?

    Brian: The ... imperative.

    Christian: Which is?

    Brian: Um, oh, oh, "I", "I"!

    Christian: How many Christians?

    Brian: Plural, plural! "ITE".

    Christian strikes over "EUNT" and paints "ITE" on the wall

    Christian: "I-TE". "DOMUS"? Nominative? "Go home", this is motion towards, isn't it, boy?

    Brian: (very anxious) Dative?

    Christian draws his sword and holds it to Brian's throat

    Brian: Ahh! No, ablative, ablative, sir. No, the, accusative, accusative, ah, DOMUM, sir.

    Christian: Except that "DOMUS" takes the ...?

    Brian: ... the locative, sir!

    Christian: Which is?

    Brian: "DOMUM".

    Christian: (satisfied) "DOMUM"...

    He strikes out "DOMUS" and writes "DOMUM"

    Christian: ..."-MUM". Understand?

    Brian: Yes sir.

    Christian: Now write it down a hundred times.

    Brian: Yes sir, thank you sir, Hail Jesus, sir.

    Christian: (saluting) Hail Jesus. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.

    Brian: (very relieved) Oh thank you sir, thank you sir, hail Jesus and everything, sir!

    December 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Russ

    "Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. That is a large statement, and it is dangerous to make it, for almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But approaching the subject from the standpoint of the writer, I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature."

    -Flannery O'Connor, 1960

    December 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  16. Dyslexic doG

    YES, Jesus is coming!!! Mows my lawn on Wednesdays, regular as clockwork!

    December 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  17. Reality # 2

    Once again, prayers are futile.

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rulesof living as gracious and good human beings

    December 16, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Joe Average

      Yes citizens you heard the man, all of you work like dogs with no hope of anything better, ever. Sounds like a riot. If you need me I'll be partying and I'll make a quick death bed confession to easy street. There's no proof it will work of course, in fact I too doubt it will but what the heck I was going to die anyway.

      December 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  18. Billy

    Here's one thing I know for sure in this crazy world. And that is, next St. Patrick's Day, I will not be thinking about this Flannery O'Connor lady.

    December 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Vic

      Why St. Patrick's Day?!

      A side note, St. Patrick was Scottish who fled to Ireland..

      December 16, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Vic

      Nice going with the Doobie Brothers earlier. And that is a wonderful example; what makes them believe in Jesus Christ and sing about Him (..I don't care what they may say, I don't care what they may do, Jesus is just alright oh yeah..Jesus is just alright..) while it is not the subject matter of their show business.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  19. Lana


    December 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Billy

      Please – I would even pay someone to please buy Coldplay a few new chords. Well, and to add some variety for the vocals. Like use some different vocalists.

      December 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
      • Velandra

        It's not Coldplay – it's a cover by someone.

        December 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Billy

      If you really absolutely have to, then maybe this:


      December 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Child of God

    The generation that saw Israel become a nation again will not pass away before the second coming. The 1948 generation is getting older so there's not much time left. Jesus is coming!

    December 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Billy

      I looked on Fandango and Moviefone and I don't see any movie about Jesus showing anywhere. ??

      December 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And will you admit you are wrong when this doesn't happen?

      December 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
      • sam stone

        No, they will just say they interpreted the story wrong. Christians are nothing if not flexible in terms of making excuses

        December 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Child of God

        Yes but I know it will. Promise me you won't believe the new world leader and you'll turn to Jesus if you're wrong.

        December 16, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
        • sam stone

          the new world leader?

          you folks are funny

          December 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I promise I will not follow Vince McMahon.

          December 16, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          he was great when he was with the bears

          December 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • Sue

          Harold Camping sure? 😉

          December 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I thought he was great on the tonight show.

          December 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
        • tallulah13

          That was laugh-out-loud funny, sam stone.

          December 17, 2013 at 9:48 am |
        • G to the T

          Then... can I have your stuff? You won't need your 401K or anything, so it should be fine to turn those over to me correct?

          December 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      Annny time now, yesssirreeeebob, annnny time now

      Are you familiar with the story of the boy who cried "wolf"?

      December 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      here's a thought, chump of god, meet jeebus halfway

      do you have tall buildings where you live?

      December 16, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • devin

      I agree, "Jesus is Coming". As for when, if your honest with yourself and Scripture you will acknowledge the fact you have absolutely no idea.

      December 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • Child of God

        Actually those who are watching can know how close it is based on the coming together of Israel, other signs, and 1 Thessalonians 5:4
        "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."

        December 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
        • Sue

          I'll bet you have your own little binder filled with clippings and equations, like Harold Camping, right?


          December 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
        • Child of God

          Actually no. About a year ago I started reading the Bible and it changed my life. I study everyday and see prophecies fulfilled in the news everyday. After starting as a sceptic, I have found truth and peace in Jesus and have done much research from even non biblical sources. Did you know that the non believers during the time of Jesus actually made up lies to explain away the obvious power He had? They claimed when he went to Egypt he practiced sorcery and magic and that's how he was able to heal so many. They couldn't deny his miracles they witnessed so they had to explain it away! Back then they didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to Jesus because they had all the proof in front of them whereas you all claim the writers just copied everything from the Old Testament.

          December 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          as opposed to believers making up tall tales to demonstrate this supposed power?

          December 17, 2013 at 6:15 am |
      • doobzz

        How about never?

        December 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • doobzz

      Actually, Jesus was answering a question about when the temple would be destroyed when he said that. Since that happened in 70 AD, he's running a little late.

      I can't wait to see that rainbow throne though.

      December 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
      • Child of God

        That verse is out of Thessalonians which has nothing to do with the temple. The verses before it talk about Jesus coming.

        December 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
        • WASP

          i find this verse very intrigueing seeing all christians attempt what your jesus said can not be known.
          "Matt 24:36-37: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."

          sooooooo please keep guessing eventually you blind bats may accually hit something. lmao

          December 17, 2013 at 7:10 am |
        • doobzz

          It's the same guy talking about the same thing. Can't he keep his stories straight? Should be easy, him being a deity and all.

          If you believe in that sort of thing.

          December 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.