Robert_Pauley at oxy.com Robert_Pauley at oxy.com
Thu Aug 14 20:58:31 EDT 2003

Dear James:

Argumentativeness is no crime in my book. 

But perhaps some things cannot be squared. Perhaps this is what Simone
Weil means when she writes over and again of the beautiful distress of
being a Christian. Some things are not reconcilable. It is not a tidy
faith. But still how intense the effort to make it so, with all the
chapters and verses. It seems to me to be Christian is to be out there,
messing up left and right and working at making it better all the time.
My chief point is if God engineered this mess he must understand (dare
even approve?) of human judgment in all its folly and tragic splendor.  

Still, to judge someone may be only to make a reasoned conclusion based
on one's experience at a given time, and a mutable one, subject to the
laws of time and possibility of change. We judge somebody, but we do not
say our judgment is final. To do that is also to deny our humanity.  

I think it is possible to make judgments as an intellectual and moral
exercise with practical use while at the same time ultimately depositing
our faith in the supreme judgment of a higher authority, or a book if
you will. By exercising our judgment with a full awareness, as full a
sense of responsibility as we can summon, can't we get closer to God in
a way? 

But I am not a good Christian and believe in my sourer moods that the
compulsion to judge on one hand and its proscription on the other may
have been one more perverse snare of God's, and not to be taken meekly.
To suspend judgment to me is to imitate a vegetable or mineral and not
an option.   

As for the Bible, it is a motley collection of writings, some of it
quite lovely and moral, but taken as a whole I wouldn't cede to it any
more, and probably less, than I would to the selected writings of Orwell
or Percy or, again, Weil.

I think it is funny watching people grope with non-judgment. It is
amusing in proportion to the zeal which they bring to their
high-mindedness. Sooner or later it falls apart. I like being there when
it does. It reminds me of "Serenity Now" on Seinfeld, screamed into the
sky in futile appeal. It falls apart I think because they are trying to
kill the impulse to judge altogether. They cannot. 

Regards, RP

-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of James Piat
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 8:53 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] gay marriage

Excellent stuff. To deny our faculty of judgment out of some sense of
guilt or to cede it to a higher authority rather than embrace it with
all the intelligence and conscience at our disposal is to deny our
humanity. I take this as a given, whether Christian or not.


Dear Robert,

Given what you say above, how does a Christian square his humanity with
faith in God or the Bible as the revealed word of God   -- isn't faith
God and/or the Bible a form of ceding one's faculty of judgment to a
authority?  For example, can a Christian judge the Bible or is the Bible
be taken on faith and one's judgment limited only to determining what
Bible means and whether or not various behaviors are in accord with the
teachings of the Bible?  I'm not trying to be argumentative here  -- I'm
really curious how you sort this out.

Jim Piat


An archive of all list discussion is available at

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

More information about the Percy-L mailing list