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Happy Birthday Walker Percy

Today is the centenary of Walker Percy’s birth. I can’t decide if it’s a shame or a mercy that he did not live to see the political year 2016. Here’s a comment from 2009’s The Limits Of Liberal Democracy: Politics And Religion At The End Of Modernity, by my friend Scott H. Moore, a Baylor University professor of philosophy:

Walker Percy’s 1971 novel Love in the Ruins is set “in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A…” Narrator Dr. Tom More begins with his delightfully disturbing description of life in the Paradise Estates suburb, just before the “end of the world.” More tells us that:

…the scientists, who are mostly liberal and unbelievers, and the businessmen, who are mostly conservative and Christian, live side by side in Paradise Estates. Though the two make much of their differences — one speaking of “outworn dogmas and creeds,” the other of “atheism and immorality,” etcetera, etcerera — to tell the truth, I do not notice a great deal of difference between the two.

Here, according to More, “everyone gets along well.” It is a “paradise indeed, an oasis of concord in a troubled land. For our beloved old U.S.A. is in a bad way. Americans have turned against each other; race against race, right against left, believer against heathen.”

In More’s account, the Republicans, who had changed their name to the Christian Conservative Constitutional Party and even printed campaign buttons in support of their new CCCP [Note: the Cyrillic letters for USSR — RD] became the “Knothead Party” for the “most knotheaded political bungle of the century — which the conservatives, in the best tradition, turned to their own advantage, printing a million more buttons reading ‘Knotheads for America.'”

The Democrats became the new Left Party and also accepted a nickname, “LEFTPAPASANE,” an acronym which stood for what the Left believed in: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, The Pill, Atheism, Pot, Anti-Pollution, Sex, Abortion Now, Euthanasia.”

Novelist Percy has his fictional character Dr. More observe: “The center did not hold. However, the Gross National Product continues to rise.”

My dears, it will be a perverse pleasure to eat crawfish, drink beer, and talk Trump with you who are coming to Walker Percy Weekend on Friday. Last I heard, there were still some rooms available at the haunted plantation house at the north edge of town. If you’re interested in coming to town, drop me a note at rod – at – amcon — dot — mag and I’ll find out for sure who still has rooms open.

Matthew Sitman of Commonweal, and formerly of Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish blog, is coming down from NYC to give a talk about Love In The Ruins, one of his favorite novels. That means we’re going to be hearing about Percy, politics, and the Year Of Our Lord 2016. I think everybody’s going to be good and ready for the Front Porch Bourbon Tour after that. In fact, here is the whole schedule of talks (not included: the addition of a screening of The Seer, the new Wendell Berry documentary, 4pm on Friday June 3 at the West Feliciana Parish Library; you can come without having to buy a ticket to the entire festival; five dollars admission at the door). Go to the lecture schedule and see the great people coming in to give some interesting lectures. There will be the opportunity to talk to them to, over cocktails, Louisiana craft beer, and crawdads. The mighty, mighty Hot Tails is once again boiling the crawfish this year. If you came to the festival in 2014 or 2015, you know how damn good those mudbugs are.

Here is the whole schedule of drankin’ and crawfish-eatin’ social events. You can buy separate tickets just to the social stuff if you are so inclined.

If you’re having second thoughts about not coming — and I bet you are — there is still time. Get your tickets here. 

And if you can’t come but want a t-shirt, poster, etc., order here. 

Whether you can come or not to this weekend’s festival, please raise a glass tonight in honor of Walker Percy, and if you’re the praying sort, say a prayer for him.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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