Kerouac & Catholicism


Here’s a great article on the religion behind Jack Kerouac’s work:

The Conservative Kerouac (Robert Dean Lurie)

I don’t love the title of the essay, or the subhead, since Kerouac wasn’t “conservative” or “Republican” in any way that we would recognize today.  But the tensions Lurie describes are exactly what drew me to Kerouac when I was younger.

His Catholicism is super complicated.  Look at two of Lurie’s sentences:

Hand in hand with the politics was the pre-Vatican II Catholicism that saturated Lowell’s tight-knit French Canadian community.”

After all, his version of Christianity esteemed visions and personal experience over doctrine and dogma.”

These don’t fit together, at least not easily.  When I was a college kid moving away from (but still in love with) my faith, I needed someone to articulate that impossibility.  So where other teenaged boys got into Kerouac for the thrilling liberation of On the Road, I was always more into the conflicted writings that came later.  

Of course, the conflicts behind those books eventually tore him to pieces, so…

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