Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Read Walker Percy Part 2

Percy gave a very interesting speech to a group of educators. The title of the speech was “Another Message in the Bottle.” He tells his audience the message in the bottle he would deliver to them would be “R-E-A-D.” He told them that the most important thing they could teach kids is to read with pleasure. He says that the gift of reading provides the gateway “to the great treasure of our inheritance” (Signposts in a Strange Land, 356). It usually takes a teacher or parent to turn on a student to reading. To get a student interested in reading and to get pleasure from it is a great thing.  Percy tells a story of a person browsing the shelves for something to read. This individual comes to a section of books called Christian novels. What will he do? Percy says he will keep looking. Why would the person pass up the section of Christian novels? Percy thinks this person’s judgment is quite sound. What reasons does Percy give for this assertion? Percy states that what he will find in these novels are books that “set out to be uplifting, edifying, [and] moral. Now, what’s wrong with being uplifting, edifying, moral? Nothing, if the uplift comes from the writer’s art and not from his need to preach” (Signposts 361-362).
Percy, however, does have a message he wants to deliver. He delivers this message in an indirect way. Percy's message in the bottle is the good news of Jesus Christ. He sees himself as a newsbearer. Percy is both an artist and an apologist. For example, his first published novel won the National Book Award. He is also a moralist. Percy's writings critiques modernity and the thanatos syndrome. Percy can be read for the story and we will be delighted by it and he can be read for the meaning between the lines.

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