In response (or retribution) to the Five Questions With… series on Amish Jihadist, Profligate Grace sat down with Tripp York, author of The Devil Wears Nada (among many other things). Kara Slade takes full responsibility for these questions.
1) I noticed that you had the good taste (and good theological sense) to quote Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear it Away on the dedication page. In my unique fantasy life, where I make up reading lists for classes I will probably never teach, that would be one of my top picks. She gets into sacramental ministry, the nature of vocation, the collision of faith and modernity, and on and on. But, of course, it’s all written as a grotesque portrayal of Protestants, and it’s possible to read it in only the grotesque sense. Is it weird to draw parallels between your book and The Violent Bear It Away?
You know, that particular quote was dedicated to my father because it fits our story perfectly—although he admitted to my mother that he had no idea what I meant by it. Thanks, dad.
Fortunately, I’ve been very lucky to be able to use her work in a number of my courses. The Violent Bear it Away is a must. It’s nasty good. But, I often wonder if her portrayal really fits the category of grotesque as much as the category of grotesque is projected onto her work. I don’t know. Maybe such thinking has more to do with my insane ecclesial upbringing in the South, yet I find her character depictions to often be quite realistic (and I’m pretty sure she addressed this grotesque/realism dichotomy). I received an email from an O’Connor scholar of sorts—teaches literature in GA, actually—suggesting that my work in The Devil Wears Nada reads like a non-fictional O’Connor text. Of course, I pretty much wet my pants in joy, but I often wonder if this categorization really does her justice. Because, you know, these are real people. Granted, I think I occasionally employed O’Connor as a sort of hermeneutical tool for negotiating some of the, oh . . . I guess what some may refer to as the bizarre/grotesque, what she even once referred to as ‘freakish’ (which is a great song by Saves the Day)—or, maybe we can just say ‘different’—experiences I enjoyed while hanging out with snake handlers, druids, Christ-loving bodybuilders, and practitioners of the so-called dark arts. Which, by the way, the answer is ‘no’. I did not meet a single Sith Lord.