Acts of Faith and Imagination: Theological Patterns in Catholic Fiction

by Brent Little
Catholic University of America Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3666-7, Paper: 978-0-8132-3665-0

ABOUT THIS BOOK
Acts of Faith and Imagination wagers that fiction written by Catholic authors assists readers to reflect critically on the question: “what is faith?” To speak of a person’s “faith-life” is to speak of change and development. As a narrative form, literature can illustrate the dynamics of faith, which remains in flux over the course of one’s life. Because human beings must possess faith in something (whether religious or not), it inevitably has a narrative structure—faith ebbs and flows, flourishes and decays, develops and stagnates.

Through an exploration of more than a dozen Catholic authors’ novels and short stories, Brent Little argues that Catholic fiction encourages the reader to reflect upon their faith holistically, that is, the way faith informs one’s affections, and how a person conceives and interacts with the world as embodied beings. Amidst the diverse stories of modern and contemporary fiction, a consistent pattern emerges: Catholic fiction portrays faith—at its most fundamental, often unconscious, level—as an act of the imagination. Faith is the way one imagines themselves, others, and creation. A person’s primary faith conditions how they live in the world, regardless of the level of conscious reflection, and regardless of whether this is a “religious” faith.

Acts of Faith and Imagination investigates the creative depth and vitality of the Catholic literary imagination by bringing late modern Catholic authors into dialogue with more contemporary ones. Readers will then consider well-known works, such as those by Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, and Muriel Spark in the fresh light of contemporary stories by Toni Morrison, Alice McDermott, Uwem Akpan, and several others.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
Brent Little is Associate Professor in Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University (Conn.) and coeditor of Revelation and Convergence: Flannery O’Connor and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CUA Press). Mark Bosco, SJ, is Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University.

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