This book accomplished something I was not expecting: it caused me to love another author. It is no surprise that the author was Flannery O’ Connor, who Bruner has an obvious and profound respect for. What is unexpected is the degree to which I followed him into that affection.
Certainly, you must read at least, “The Violent Bear it Away” by O’Connor for this book to make sense. It will not be for naught; if you find this book valuable, you will certainly find the former exponentially so. What Bruner does in his volume is take a great deal of commentary, including his own, and place it in logical categories to show the deep and meaningful themes of O’Connor’s troubling volume.
This resonates deeply with me. If you are after a bulleted list of self-help guidelines gleaned from a piece of the Bible, this book is certainly not that. What it accomplishes is something requiring far more labor and patience. The answers are no more black and white than the characters from O’Connor’s novels, but the meaning to be found by walking with them becomes stitched to you, hemmed in by the very Spirit of God with occasional discomfort.
“Those of us who, in our own fitful and limited ways, attempt to follow in the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus need not be expected to observe the stifling decorum of a ‘respectable’ Christianity,” writes Bruner. This is not a shadow everyone who bears the name of Christ wishes to walk in; perhaps there is more of a home in that darkness than we imagine.