Friday, October 12, 2007

The Lame Shall Enter First

Flannery O’Connor’s story The Lame Shall Enter First is part of St. John’s readings for their executive seminar. So it’s not part of the regular curriculum. I read this today as a bit of a break from Rilke’s Stories of God.

The description asks “Can political society with all of its suffering be something viable and whole without faith? Can faith be a sanely lived experience without political rule?” I’m not sure that’s the question I would ask. I would ask whether it is possible to be good without faith. Sheppard draws his belief that he is good from his continuing affirmation of his goodness. It has no connection with any source of validation outside of his own self affirmation. Sheppard is caught in a positive feedback loop. He eventually spirals out of control, and the consequences are disastrous for Norton and possibly for Rufus Johnson.

At some point I might write a little essay on self-esteem, positive and negative feedback loops, but right now I’m going to go back to Rilke. I’ll be doing Letters to a Young Poet, and then returning to the St. John’s reading list. The next work on the list will be Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.