[Milton-L] "the only great Christian writer this nation has produced"

Kim Maxwell kmaxwell at stanford.edu
Thu Jan 21 14:26:11 EST 2010

To make what may be a common point now.  It seems to me that James Rovira is
right, that there is a general concept of orthodox Christianity which is creedal
and doctrinal, characterizes  a
central component of the diverse doctrines of most of the central churches of
the faith, and distinguishes it from other central religions and unorthodox
positions within it.  However, it
also seems to me that the writer’s orthodoxy matters little to the author’s
work.  O’Conner is not attempting
to defend or proselytize Christianity like some missionary; she is exploring
the human problem of evil, perhaps in the context of her own faith, but her
stories can certainly be read, enjoyed, and made meaningful in other
contexts.  “A Good Man is Hard to
Find” has overt Christian material, but no unambiguous Christian message (it is
famous for this); indeed, it can be used to defend divine grace or condemn
divine grace as one sees the grandmother and the Misfit come to terms with each
other.  I see Eliot’s Four Quartets
the same way, enormously powerful poems which can be read without wondering
about Eliot’s Anglicanism, or his putative theocracy, or his anti-Semitism for
that matter.  Needless to say, I
see Milton’s Paradise Lost the same way, not a doctrinal statement, but an exploration
of human evil in a variety of contexts, one of which is an enormously
confusing, and perhaps confused, doctrine. 

Kim Maxwell 
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