When viewing Graham Greene from a religious perspective, or evaluating his works based upon their "religious sense," the starting assumptions of critics have been that Greene is a Catholic writer. However, analyses of Greene's work have proven that Greene at best fits ambiguously into this role, and have revealed that the quality of being a Catholic is ambiguous, as well. Greene's frequent use of Catholicism as a basis for moral questioning, character development, and political commentary has resulted in a very loose implementation of Catholic beliefs and traditions. His radical religious concepts present in the novels Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair make a case on their own for Greene's possible agnosticism. Though, through careful examination of the ideas presented in the narration and events of these novels, one can conclude that Greene sees the ideas of faith and belief, as opposed to the church, as entities more suited to connecting man with God.
[...] This belief is most evident in the contrast between the disgusting sinners and the pious Catholic woman in the cell. The woman is depicted as very prideful and without pity, causing the priest to consider that “venial sins- impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity- cut you off from grace more completely than the worse sins of (Green, G. 131). Greene is stating that, in truth, sin is at the heart of Christianity. This notion is not entirely radical. [...]
[...] Thomas Aquinas is known for his advancements in scholasticism as well as Roman Catholic thought, especially his five proofs of God's existence in which he validated his belief in God through Aristotelian reasoning (“Aquinas, St. Thomas”). However, St. Thomas, who Greene explicitly named himself after, is known for saying after Jesus' resurrection, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). When he is later able to do these things, Jesus says to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? [...]
[...] Analytical proofs of God's existence that occur in situations such as in Visit to Morin” and The Potting Shed show that Greene thinks of God in a fashion external to the Church. The Church places great emphasis on faith and salvation, while Greene, in his works, places more emphasis on logical reasoning and disbelief. His characters and themes show a respect for critical analysis of belief, almost in competition with the Church's respect for an unquestioning faith. While these themes tell much about Greene, they don't allow a conclusion as to whether he practices the same inquiring reasoning in his faith. [...]
[...] Additionally, one may start to cling to a faith during times that he or she increasingly doubts the legitimacy of such faith. These examples show that while it is possible that Greene is merely imaginatively exploring the subject, it is also feasible that he truly believes that logical belief and devout faith can work together or against one another to form a man's ideas about God. If so, it is then reasonable to say that Greene isn't much of a Catholic novelist or Catholic writer. [...]
[...] Green recognizes the importance of counter- argument and scrutiny for the validity of a belief. To Greene, even at this young age as a convert, it is just as important for Christians to disbelieve as it is to have pious faith. In Greene's play The Potting Shed, a priest who has had no faith for thirty years is revealed to have offered God his faith, thirty years earlier, in return for the life of a young nephew who had hanged himself. [...]
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