Although Judaism and Catholicism have important differences,
both religions contain elements of religious mystery, aspects of
belief that transcend the rational. Each religion additionally
provides believers a concrete method for encountering the numinous:
following the commandments in Judaism or partaking of the
sacraments in Catholicism. This book studies how Jewish and
Catholic practices of giving structure to religious mystery are
embodied in the works of Bernard Malamud, Walker Percy, Cynthia
Ozick, and Flannery O'Connor.
The volume links Malamud with Percy and Ozick with O'Connor
because these Jewish and Catholic authors depict religious mystery
in similar ways. Percy and Malamud use the quest form to give shape
to mystery. In doing so, they show their characters moving toward a
religious commitment. In contrast, O'Connor and Ozick use the
grotesque and fantastic to evoke the numinous. Thus they embody the
religious mystery that Malamud's and Percy's characters seek to
encounter. Whether presenting a movement toward mystery or serving
to evoke it, these four authors explore an ineffable dimension that
readers need to sense in order to gain a better understanding of
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