Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peter Kreeft on Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos

Back in the 90s Peter Kreeft gave a talk at the C.S. Lewis Institute where he discussed C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man and compared it to Walker Percy's magnificent mock self-help book Lost in the Cosmos. Since I recently finished Percy's book, I was greatly interested in what Kreeft might have had to say.

At on point, Kreeft half-jokes with his audience that, in his opinion, Western Civilization could be saved if everyone read six books:
  1. Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy
  2. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
  3. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  4. The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
  5. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
  6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
In the talk, Kreeft makes a strong case that the first two books form the preconditions for the other six, and Huxley's book shows us what a future full of "men without chests" would really look like. This talk may actually make Percy readers out of many of you, and it is a really tremendous discussion, and it comes with my highest recommendations. Since reading The Moviegoer and Lost in the Cosmos I have begun reading Percy's book Love in the Ruins, which envisions a dystopian future full of "men without chests" where humanity is trying to find its way out of the rubble. I'm only still in the first chapter, but it is a great book with perhaps the greatest opening sentence I've ever read in any novel.
NOW IN THESE DREAD LATTER DAYS of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?
You can download Kreeft's talk in mp3 format here.

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