Religion (Religiosity?) as Rebellion

From 2009.

I am fascinated by the idea, put forward in the lit seminar I’m taking, that in the middle of the 20th century it was fashionable for artists and writers to convert to Catholicism. I’d never heard that before.

I was reading about Robert Lowell’s transformation from Boston-bred Puritan/Congregationalist heir to Catholic, and found a consensus (among half a dozen online sources, anyway) that his conversion was an explicit rejection of the WASPy, industrial mores of his upbringing and native Northeastern context. Max Weber might concur. There’s also at least some religious longing here, though, says A.O. Scott:

The poems are populated by figures from New England’s past, including some of Lowell’s own ancestors. But Lowell, descended on both sides from prominent Yankee families, had undertaken a twofold rebellion against his inheritance, rejecting Harvard for Kenyon College and the bleached-out Puritanism of the Congregational Church for a notably sanguinary, “fire-breathing” Catholicism.

Scott’s full article here.

Because I’m a soft little soul, I know a few things about indie music.¬† We’ve talked about Sufjan/Flannery before, but the more I think about the number of good, working indie bands out there that also happen to be plaintively¬† Christian, the more I wonder if their influx since the mid-late 90s has something to do with secular suburban kids rebelling against the norms and expectations of their settings. I won’t bore you with tales of my own Tenth-Grade Nothingness or an uninformed discourse on how the straightedge movement corroborates this idea. More on “Christian” art that’s still…good…in this article on emusic.com.

The Priest and The Peacock

This is from “The Displaced Person” by Flannery O’Connor:

peacock

I don’t presume to know if it will do the same for you, but it made me feel the way maybe church is supposed to. When I get to the last few lines I want to start singing the refrain from “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens in a kind of kairotic response.