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A Theology of CriticismBalthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination$
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Michael P. Murphy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333527

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333527.001.0001

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 Sacred Arrangements

 Sacred Arrangements

Balthasar, Flannery O'Connor, and the Glory of the Lord

(p.53) 3 Sacred Arrangements
A Theology of Criticism

Michael Patrick Murphy

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 focuses on Balthasar's theological aesthetics as a well‐articulated critical methodology. Balthasar's fusion of aesthetics with history forges both a Christology and an analogy of being that is developed in light of that Christology. Balthasar urges us to “see the form [of Christ]” in all manner of being and experience—human activities, natural phenomena, and especially human works of art. “Seeing the form” becomes a central critical and theological hermeneutic; and the chapter cultivates a parallel between “seeing the form” and interpreting, broadly, the “word(s)” of narrative art. The first three sections of the chapter develop an aesthetics of a representative word (in this case, the term “hierarchy”); the last section is an application of what is gleaned from the first three upon Flannery O'Connor's “Revelation.” While a close reading of O'Connor's text serves as a literary exemplum of a Catholic imagination, other poets and authors who demonstrate a similar theological aesthetic are considered in order round out the discussion.

Keywords:   Hans Urs von Balthasar, apophatic, kataphatic, Manicheanism, “Revelation,” revelation and concealment, procession and return, St. Paul, Pseudo‐Dionysius, Jacques Maritain, David Tracy, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, William Everson, hierarchy, theological aesthetics, Catholic imagination, postmodernism, The Glory of the Lord

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