Questions they never asked me so I asked myself

WALKER PERCY

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?

Walker Percy
1916-1990

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.

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.

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.

Read the full interview!

 

 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Walker Percy. "Walker Percy Interviews Himself." Esquire (December 1977).

THE AUTHOR

Walker Percy was an American Southern author whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of "the dislocation of man in the modern age." His work displays a unique combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith. He is the author of The Moviegover, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, Signposts in a Strange Land, The Second Coming: A Novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, and Love in the Ruins: A Novel.

Copyright © 2003 Esquire




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