“I mean, it’s a very lonely culture.”

Writer Mary Karr discusses her conversion to Catholicism with the local NPR station!

“The reviewers have said, you know, I don’t believe in God, but now I understand in a way how somebody could. And I think that was my goal, to sort of explain to people. And in some way, I think I’m better suited than most people because I had no religious beliefs my entire life. I wasn’t baptized, I wasn’t brought up in any faith. And so in some ways, my life long lack of belief, I think, makes me a good describer of how faith comes to those — to the disbelieving.

“So when I was baptized, my friend Richard Ford – you know, the great novelist – sent me a postcard that said, not you on the pope’s team. Say it ain’t so. But then Ford wound up sending me a fan letter. He said, ‘I was really gunning for you, Karr, on this one. But you pulled it out.’ So hopefully I’ve written about faith in a way that should speak to nonbelievers.

“I really want to — I’m not trying to convert anybody, but I would like us all to be able to sit in the same room with one another. On my website, which is, you know, Mary Karr Lit Up on Facebook, I love seeing people who are often fundamentalist Christians or very strict Catholics or Jewish or with new age people, with people who are complete pagans, all sort of come together and talk about — share their hopes and fears. You upon, that’s to me what faith is about, is being able to stand together as human beings and not want to blow each other up with machine guns, which is what I want to do most days on the subway.”


  1. “After ten months praying in a cave in Manresa, St. Ignatius recieved a vision that permitted him ‘to see God in all things’ – the stated goal of his Spiritual Exercises, which are part of each Jesuit’s novitiate.

    This doesn’t inannately appeal to me. Despite my conversion, I don’t care to see God in all things. I prefer to find God in circumstances I think up in advance., at home in my spare time – circumstances God will fulfill for me like a gumball machine when I put the penny of my prayer into it.” – Mary Karr, “Lit”

    Exactly so, said the hammer to the nail.

    I happen to have a copy of Karr’s book on the desk at my office – sent by Harper as a review copy to our paper. I have it tucked in between my Viking Portable Roman Reader and Greek Reader (civilization’s cradle, always close at hand…). There’s also a book of poems by James Carroll sidled up next to it, a worn out and faded paperback copy of “Tender of Wishes” which reminds me daily to be grateful that I lived through the 70s in exquiste bliss.

    Now, of course, having climbed into it because of your post, I must somehow figure out a way to persuade my editor and then my readers why this book ought to be read. I’m convinced at any rate.

    Addenda: We now know Benedict won’t be invited to Mr. Ford’s next book signing…

    (Wonder what he thought of Percy, then, beyond what he thought of Percy in the documentary…).


  2. Jonathan Webb says

    Great post and great comment.

    All you folks continually blow me away.

  3. Jonathan Potter says

    Her latest poetry collection, Sinners Welcome, is worth checking out, too.

  4. ImeldaJean says

    “hopefully I’ve written about faith in a way that should speak to nonbelievers”

    What. A. Concept.

  5. Well, this makes me want to read it. Add it to the stack, Jeeves.

  6. Cubeland Mystic says

    This reminds me of post Matthew had on his blog a long time ago. The topic was something like all art begins in a wound or some such.

    I wonder if people like who are like the character Fiver in Watership Down are born that way or are products of their environments. I always wonder about this. Karr sounds very interesting. I am also very interested in why people enjoy reading about people who have rough childhoods that lead to self destructive behavior and maybe a spiritual resurrection in the end. Maybe there is a story in that.

Speak Your Mind