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percy-l - [percy-l] Love in the Ruins and Thanatos Syndrome

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Subject: Percy-L: Literary, Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Discussion on Walker Percy

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  • From: JHForest AT
  • To: percy-l AT
  • Subject: [percy-l] Love in the Ruins and Thanatos Syndrome
  • Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 06:15:56 EDT

>> I think that Love in the Ruins is one of his best (I
like it much better that its sequel, Thanatos, though I know many will
disagree with me). My favorite passage (one of my favorites in all Percy's
fiction) is when Tom gives his confession and is surprised by Fr. Smith's
indifference (his unwillingness to be shocked by Tom's confession). Then
the wise priest says:
>> "Meanwhile, forgive me, but there are other things we must think
about: like doing our jobs, you being a better doctor, I being a better
priest, showing a bit of ordinary kindness to people, particularly our own
families -- unkindness to those close to us is such a pitiful thing -- doing
what we can for our poor unhappy country -- things which, please forgive
me, sometimes seem more important than dwelling on a few middle-age
daydreams." <<

Dave, can you refer me to the page number for that passage? I assume it's
from Thanatos Syndrome as I don't recall Fr Smith being in Love in the Ruins.
Or was he? Perhaps it's time for me to re-read Love in the Ruins. I do recall
the priest (Father Ken?) and ex-nun in that book who were running a Masters
& Johnson sort of sex clinic. Wild.

The quotation from Fr Smith reminds me of story I came upon yesterday about
St Amvrosy, the famous elder (starets) at the Optina Pustyn Monastery who
was a model for the figure of Starets Zosima in Dostoevsky's "The Brothers
Karamazov" :

>> ....Saint Ambrose of Optina ... is universally respected as a holy starets in the
line of the Great Optina elders. There is much we could say about him, but
I would just like to underline one of the gifts which he possessed, which was
the ability to adapt himself to each person and to pass immediately from
discussions of high theology to the discussion of practical problems of
everyday life. In his life, there is an account of a young man who criticized
the elder for wasting his time advising a peasant woman how to feed her
turkeys. He answered his critic with these words: "Don't you understand that
her whole life is bound up with these turkeys, and that the peace of her soul is
of no less account than that of those who come to me with questions about
sublime matters?" (From a a talk by Bishop Tikhon of South Canaan recently
given at a conference on pastoral care,)<<


* * *
Jim & Nancy Forest
Kanisstraat 5 / 1811 GJ Alkmaar / The Netherlands
Jim's e-mail: <jhforest AT>
Nancy's e-mail: <forestflier AT>
tel: (+31-72) 511-2545 / fax: (+31-72) 515-4180
Orthodox Peace Fellowship web site:
Jim & Nancy Forest web site:
* * *

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