Saturday, December 27, 2008

Literary seminary professor found spiritual insight in Walker Percy

This is the area I did my Doctoral Studies in, although I used short stories instead of novels. I used Percy's reflections on writing in my thesis. If you haven't read Walker Percy you should. The Thantos Syndrome is probably his best.

I first encountered the Rev. Charlie Cook as a teacher. I had signed up for a night class on theology and the novels of the late Walker Percy at the Seminary of the Southwest. As someone who majored in English and minored in philosophy, this would be an ideal continuing-education course for me. And I had always meant to read Percy.

But it was like no English or philosophy class I had taken before. Cook, a longtime pastoral theology professor at the Episcopal seminary just north of the University of Texas, explored unexpected theological depths, pulling back the curtain on Percy's own spiritual struggle alongside an analysis of the various stages and ultimate "leap of faith" Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard argues is essential to accepting Christianity.

The class consisted mostly of gray-haired ladies from local Episcopal parishes, and Cook also challenged us to examine our own spiritual lives in light of Percy and his existentialist philosophy. I might not be able quote Percy or Kierkegaard, but I can tell you I knew a lot more about myself after completing that course.

No comments: