» an obviously grotesque child

Saturday, 9 March A.D. 2013 @ 8:43 PM

A child like Mary Ann, [Flannery O'Connor] observed, is obviously grotesque, and in the modern world such a child is thought to “discredit the goodness of God.” How can a good God allow such a child to die? the Ivan Karamazovs of the world ask. How, moreover, can a good God allow such a child to be born? The modern unbeliever prides himself on his realism, his willingnness to recognize suffering and to ponder the problem of evil directly. But in O'Connor's estimation such an outlook is not realistic; is it naive, sentimental, and even dangerous. It is the believer, not the unbeliever, who is the realist. In a child like Mary Ann, the believer sees the likeness of every human person—deformed, limited, imperfect. In human deformity the believer sees “the raw material of good.” In human suffering the believer sees the grounds of our ommon humanity, recognizing that it is through suffering, above all, that human beings are stirred to the love of one another, and to the love of God, who showed his love for humanity through his willingness to suffer as one of us.

—from The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie