The Grail and the Gun

The Grail and the Gun examines the young adulthoods of my mother’s parents in the early 1950s. It follows my grandparents from small-town northern New Mexico to the far-off places that framed their early years. Catholicism also played a key role in these formative years. My grandmother, Flora, traveled to the Midwest in order to study with a Catholic womens’ organization that allowed her more intellectual freedom; meanwhile, my grandfather, Dan, was drafted and enlisted as a car mechanic (officially) and chaplain’s assistant (unofficially). Their stories then collide as they reminisce about their engagement. Catholicism plays a complicated role in each story–it is a guiding, yet limiting force in these pivotal moments. Their kindness and unflinching recognition of humanity in others is fostered in their Catholic communities, yet condemned by contemporary doctrine. I integrate newspaper clippings that detail my grandparents’ lives into their stories, including my grandfather’s early journalistic works. This synthesis of stories creates a layered expression of my understanding of this time in their lives.

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