Southern Christendom, as it was in the 1980s, is now, and evermore might be

August 16, 2014

Public Work

Walker Percy knew how to capture the South, as well as American culture, within his characters and stories. In this passage near the end of his 1987 novel The Thanatos Syndrome, Percy’s narrator observes Southern-fried American Christianity through his wife and his region. I dare say his observations seem fresh today:

Later Ellen experienced a religious conversion. She became disaffected when the Southern and Northern Presbyterians, estranged since the Civil War, reunited after over a hundred years. It was not the reunion she objected to but the liberal theology of the Northern Presbyterians, who, according to her, were more interested in African revolutionaries than the divinity of Christ. She and others pulled out and formed the Independent Northlake Presbyterian Church.

Then she became Episcopalian.

Then suddenly she joined a Pentecostal sect. She tells me straight out that she has had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, that where once…

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