Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walker Percy Quote for the Day

I'm near the end of a biography of Walker Percy, and will review it soon. But this quote is just too germane to keep to myself:

Perhaps most interesting was his view of the Christian fundamentalists, "who ought," Percy said, "to be reckoned a friend and an ally but in these peculiar times may not be." Percy feared that the influence of fundamentalists was particularly invidious in the South, where they dominated the airwaves and uttered "the name of the Lord loudest and most often ... In my opinion, they do a disservice by cheapening the vocabulary of Christianity and pandering to a crude emotionalism divorced from reason. I know that St. Paul said that the Gospel was a stumbling block to the wise, but it does not follow that to save the faith it is necessary to believe that the universe was created six thousand years ago. And it is not necessary, to save the integrity of man's soul and its likeness to God, to believe that God could not have created man's body through an evolution from lower species."

One of Percy's themes is how using a word too much cheapens it and ultimately empties it of meaning. This is why Christians don't use Jesus' name to swear meaninglessly ... but do some of those same Christians also cheapen the name by using it too much, and too freely, with respect to physical/scientific questions? Does the fundamentalist take the Lord's name in vain by insisting on absolute literalism in Biblical interpretation?

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