Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knowing More while Knowing Less and the Faith of Walker Percy

Dear Misfits,

At our meeting last Wednesday, there was unanimous agreement that Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos is a very challenging and enlightening read. Witty, provocative, original, somber are some of the adjectives that only begin to describe this book.  We also concluded that it is a very dense book that bears rereading and study.  Percy begins by describing each of us as a "self" in a Cosmos "about which you know more and more while knowing less and less about yourself, this despite 10,000 self-help books, 100,000 psycho-therapists, and 100 million fundamentalist Christians".  In the end, Walker firmly concludes that the Catholic faith, with its "preposterous" claim to truth is the key to survival in the Cosmos.  Without Faith, the "gap between our knowledge of the Cosmos and our knowledge of ourselves widens and we become ever more alien to the very Cosmos we understand..."  Faith is the sole remedy for the “predicament" the human self finds itself in.  We may be lost in the Cosmos but we can anchor ourselves in the man-God who gave us the Catholic Church and the certain promise of His return.

Group Therapy

I have also [linked to] an excellent essay on Walker Percy’s life that was sent to me by Misfit Brad Lindberg.  The essay by Father Damian J. Ference explains many of the themes that Percy writes about in Lost in the Cosmos.  Father Damien is particularly insightful on the subject of suicide which claimed many of Walker Percy’s closes family members early in his life.  It explains many of the comments on suicide that Percy makes in Lost in the Cosmos.

Now to the future:

For October, we have chosen to read All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams.  Williams—novelist, poet, critic, dramatist and biographer—died in his native England in May, 1945. He had a lively and devoted following  and achieved a considerable reputation as a lecturer on the faculty of Oxford University. T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers and C. S. Lewis were among his distinguished friends and literary sponsors. He was also a member of the Inklings, a group of Christian writers that included J.R.R. Tolkien. 
Charles Williams

All Hallows' Eve is the story of a man and woman whose love was so great it could bridge the gap of death; of evil so terrible as to be unmentionable, of a vision so beautiful it must be true. A consideration in our choice of this novel is the occurrence of Halloween next month.

The novel is available from Amazon $13.81.

For November, we return to William Shakespeare, one of the greatest Catholic authors in literature.  (Some may argue that Shakespeare wasn’t a Catholic author.  The Misfits think he was, so get over it!)  We will read King Lear, one of Shakespeare's darkest and most savage plays.  It tells the story of the foolish and Job-like Lear, who divides his kingdom, as he does his affections, according to vanity and whim. Lear’s failure as a father engulfs himself and his world in turmoil and tragedy. 
The play is available from Amazon in many editions, some for as little as $6.26 in paperback.
In December, the Misfits have decided to begin reading C. S. Lewis’ classic Space Trilogy.  We will start with Out of the Silent Planet which begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Dr. Ransom is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra.  The physicist is in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom was selected to fill that role. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. Even though it was first published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a topically current, very modern read.

The Space Trilogy, continues with Perelandra (our January, 2014 book) and concludes with That Hideous Strength (our February, 2014 book).

Finally, let me recommend a web site wherein the Misfits are mentioned by another of our Misfits, Chris Hagen.  The web site features an interview titled, “Why Catholic Books Still Matter: An Interview with Christopher Hagen.”  Give it a read.  I think you will enjoy it (and the mention of The Misfits.)  (See:

. . .

And to remind, we always meet at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of every month in the St. Thomas More Library Room, the Church of St. Michael, Stillwater, MN.  Therefore, our next meeting will be at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, October 9th. (Our meetings and discussion always end at 8:30 pm. )

With warmest regards,

Misfit Buzz

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