A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany Religion Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"WHAT A BIG FUSS ABOUT A BLANKET!" Owen said. "THAT'S SO CATHOLIC," he added—"TO GET VERY RELIGIOUS ABOUT OBJECTS." (6.82)
Owen has a lot of beef with Catholicism. He's all about talking to God directly and getting rid of stuff that distracts from having a genuine relationship with God. He sees ceremony and symbolism as things that get in the way.
"IF KENNEDY CAN RATIONALIZE ADULTERY, WHAT ELSE CAN HE RATIONALIZE?" Owen asked me. Then he got angry and said: "I'M FORGETTING HE'S A MACKEREL-SNAPPER! IF CATHOLICS CAN CONFESS ANYTHING, THEY CAN FORGIVE THEMSELVES ANYTHING, TOO! CATHOLICS CAN'T EVEN GET DIVORCED; MAYBE THAT'S THE PROBLEM. IT'S SICK NOT TO LET PEOPLE GET DIVORCED!" (7.301)
As per usual, Owen goes on a tirade against Catholicism. Here, he criticizes the sacrament of confession – Catholics believe that they can be forgiven for their sins if they confess them to a priest and then say a prescribed number of prayers after. Owen sees this practice as being horribly misguided.
"YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW SHE'S THERE—EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN'T SEE HER?" he asked me.
"Yes!" I screamed.
"WELL, NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT GOD," said Owen Meany. "I CAN'T SEE HIM—BUT I ABSOLUTELY KNOW HE IS THERE!" (8.265-267)
The "she" in question is the statue of Mary Magdalene in front of the playground at St. Michael's. Owen draws a parallel between John's rational knowledge that a statue is still standing there in the dark even if he can't see it and his own belief that God is there even if he can't see God.