[percy-l] Percy-L Digest, Vol 44, Issue 1
RGray at montreat.edu
Wed Jan 3 17:13:43 EST 2007
Lance speaks for Will Percy and the loss of southern stoicism. But he also speaks for Walker.
With Lance Lamar in Lancelot speaking for frustrated, worried Catholics or even a Protestant like me, does that mean a ranting dreamer of judgement crouches in us too? When decadence rubs against me, I often ask myself, "Will God's anger crash down now?"
Then I think "I'm among the righteous remnant. The world may say 'I've got no strings to hold me down,' yet I'm listening to Jiminy Cricket. My conscience will be my guide."
How can one be against the world without wishing to be a terrorist--maybe just for one day?
From: Michael Larson
Sent: Tue 1/2/2007 10:59 PM
I don't know about anyone else on the list, but Rhonda's posts did some funky formatting on my computer, such that I could not read them in email. Once I copied and pasted into a Word document, though, I saw that she had some great things to say. I think it is correct that Lance speaks for Will Percy and the loss of southern stoicism. But he also speaks for Walker. In fact, the changes in the Church are not unlike the changes in the social order. The changes in both are, in many ways, the kindred products of modernity. Lance affords Percy an opportunity to speak (yes, in an amped-up fashion) for both Will and Walker, each bemoaning the loss of something he perceives to be of the utmost importance.
It seems to me that Lance, as a fictional character, might have been the only way that Percy could express such anxiety. He certainly wasn't about to go public straight-up with a disillusioned characterization of the Church. So he did it in fiction, and Lancelot isn't the only place, though it is perhaps the edgiest. As Rhonda says, Percy did not despair ultimately: he hoped; but that hope was in spite of a world gone mad and a church gone soft--not BECAUSE of either one of them.
As far as the jihadists go, yes, they are believers. And yes, there are Catholic believers and Protestant believers, and many other kinds of believers, but it is only the trait of belief that binds each to each. It is not the content of their belief. They do not believe in the same things. Of course there is overlap, but there are mutually exclusive differences as well. Unless religious relativism is true, they simply cannot all be correct. So in being willing at the end of the novel to listen to Fr. John, Lance teaches us a lesson ONLY if Fr. John's version of the truth is the Truth. Clearly this is what Percy is intimating. If the Catholic truth that Fr. John represents is replacable by any (fill in the blank) serious-minded religious figure, then Percy is handing us nothing but relativism. Which he isn't.
As Rhonda says, Percy does indeed speak through Fr. John. That's the beauty of fiction: authorial voice may enter any number of characters at strategic moments, even those (the priest and Lance) who represent ambivalent and dichotomous grapplings with the same reality (the Church).
Regarding Rhonda's other post--a "bad peace" might be one that is based on egalitarianism, indifference, apathy, rather than on truth, true charity, and an acclimation to the real reality (i.e. God's).
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