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The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

by Paul Elie

Buy the book: Paul Elie. The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

Release Date: 05 April, 2003

Edition: Hardcover


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Buy the book: Paul Elie. The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

Literature as Spiritual Direction

I had read a lot of Flannery O'Connor, but didn't know as much about Merton, Dorothy Day, or Walker Percy. Elie's assessment of O'Connor's writing is not only accurate, but insightful. He is a very gifted theologian, literary critic, and biographer.

In reading him, I gained several new insights into O'Connor's stories and how her life and Catholicism influenced them. Some of his images (for instance, describing Mrs. Turpin in "Revelation" as a "hillbilly Thomist") were absolutely delightful and right on target. Through Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor, he also paints a wonderful picture of the strange and wonderful world of Southern Catholics.

What is most impressive about this book, however, is how he weaves the lives, writing and faith journeys of four very different persons together, showing that indeed, grace perfects nature, even when the "nature" is quite different from one personality to another. They were all clearly influenced by the same threads of Catholic theology and spirituality, but reflected it back to us in very different ways.

This book was interesting to me because of its literary and theological themes. But even more, it was spiritual reading. Again and again I stoped reading and compared their spiritual journeys to my own. Reading Elie's book has deepened my faith and given me hope that despite my own doubts and the "bumps in the road" on my spiritual journey, I might still one day hope to achieve some measure of holiness. What's more, I highlighted many passages which will surely be fodder for some future preaching!

Fr. Charles Bouchard, OP

From Amazon.com


THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN (an American Pilgrimage)
Peter Elie
This sounds merely like a book that mingles biographies of four Catholic writers. As the subtitle tells, it is an American Pilgrimage and lives like these could only be found in America. The book is a journey to the shrines of life and wisdom found in these four and through their writing. Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton: Four Americans, Three converts, Two Southerners, one Priest, all dedicated to the proposition that each of us is capable of Love. A cripple and a candidate for sainthood, an ascetic and an archetypal gentleman. A motlier crew would be hard to find. Yet the reward is ours. When you realize the pain and passion involved in their lives and writing, you can only ask - what have I done for love? The book is a spiritual history of America from the late 40's through the 70's based on little people whose lives become large enough to model real Faith. We need to remeet such writers.

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