Thursday, September 12, 2013

Walker Percy = Bad Catholic

Dear Misfits,

We are about to begin our 12th year of reading the great books of our shared Catholic literary tradition.  What a journey it has been.  We have read so many great books together.  It is exciting to realize that there are so many more to be read!

When we took our annual summer break we hadn't decided the book we would read next.  So I've chosen one I've long wanted to read...and I hope you will all agree that it is a good choice; lets read Walker Percy's classic,  Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book.  To quote: "Walker Percy's mordantly funny and wholly original contribution to the self-help book craze deals with the Western mind's tendency toward heavy abstraction. This favorite of Percy fans continues to charm and beguile readers of all tastes and backgrounds. Lost in the Cosmos invites us to think about how we communicate with our world....Walker Percy (1916-1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a U.S. senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction titles--including the classic novel The Moviegoer (1961), winner of the National Book Award--and fifteen works of nonfiction. In 2005, Time magazine named The Moviegoer one of the best English-language books published since 1923."  (The Misfits read The Moviegoer in May, 2003)

. . . 

Shown below is a short interview  given by Walker Percy on his Faith as a Catholic.  (I think he perhaps speaks for all of us Misfits!)

. . .

With warmest regards,

Misfit Buzz

Walker Percy on his Faith (From Magnificat Magazine)
Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
 A. Bad.
 Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
 A: I don’t know what that means . . . . Do you mean do I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
 Q: Yes.
 A: Yes.
 Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
 A: What else is there?
 Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behaviorism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
 A: That’s what I mean.
 Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
 A: Yes.
 Q: Why?
 A: It’s not good enough.
 Q: Why not?
 A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him.
 Q: Grabbed aholt?
 A: A Louisiana expression.
 Q: But isn’t the Catholic Church in a mess these days, badly split, its liturgy barbarized, vocations declining?
 A: Sure. That’s a sign of its divine origins, that it survives these periodic disasters.
 Q: You don’t act or talk like a Christian. Aren’t they supposed to love one another and do good works?
 A: Yes.
 Q: You don’t seem to have much use for your fellowman or do many good works.
 A: That’s true. I haven’t done a good work in years.
 Q: In fact, if I may be frank, you strike me as being rather negative in your attitude, cold-blooded, aloof, derisive, self-indulgent, more fond of the beautiful things of this world than of God.
 A: That’s true.
 Q: You even seem to take certain satisfaction in the disasters of the twentieth-century and to savor the imminence of world catastrophe rather than world peace, which all religions seek.
 A: That’s true.
 Q: You don’t seem to have much use for your fellow Christians, to say nothing of Ku Kluxers, ACLU’ers, northerners, southerners, fem-libbers, anti-fem-libbers, homosexuals, anti-homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, anti-hippies, senior citizens.
 A: That’s true – though taken as individuals they turn out to be more or less like oneself, i.e., sinners, and we get along fine.
 Q: Even Ku Kluxers?
 A: Sure.
 Q: How do you account for your belief?
 A: I can only account for it as a gift from God.
 Q: Why would God make you such a gift when there are others who seem more deserving, that is, serve their fellowman?
 A: I don’t know. God does strange things. . . .
 Q: But shouldn’t one’s faith bear some relation to the truth, facts?
 A: Yes. That’s what attracted me, Christianity’s rather insolent claim to be true, with the implication that other religions are more or less false.
 Q: You believe that?

 A: Of course.

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