Walker Percy — A Novelist for a Deaf Culture

The article below is from Kairos Journal. I have read all of Percy’s novels and both of his non-fiction works. He was a provocative writer. His two book, 20 years apart series, THE LAST GENTLEMAN and THE SECOND COMING, are a powerful and patient evangelistic effort that sneaks in under the radar of most readers senses. It is not surprising to me that he saw so clearly the connection between abortion and consumerism. 

Abortion and the Logic of Consumerism—Walker Percy (1916 – 1990) A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Walker Percy studied medicine at Columbia University Medical School, but practiced only briefly. After contracting tuberculoses, he became a writer, whom the Los Angeles Times called “the Faulkner of his generation.” His novel, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award. Percy was a devout Catholic, who took his church’s moral pronouncements very seriously. In this selection from “Why Are You Catholic,”1 he reflects on the way in which American consumerism leads naturally to rampant abortion and the specter of euthanasia. He notes that the Nazis earlier covered this ground, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

“Americans are the nicest, most generous, and sentimental people on earth. Yet Americans have killed more unborn children than any nation in history. [* Recent reveleations out of China reveal that China is even more guilty but that doesn’t change Percy’s point.]  Now euthanasia is beginning. Don’t forget that the Germans used to be the friendliest, most sentimental people on earth. But euthanasia was instituted, not by the Nazis, but by the friendly democratic Germans of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic was followed by the Nazis. It is not “horrible” that over a million unborn children were killed in America last year.
For one thing, one does not see many people horrified. It is not horrible, because in an age of theory and consumption it is appropriate that actions be carried out as the applications of theory and the needs of consumption require. . . . Accordingly, it should not be surprising that present-day liberals favor abortion, just as the Nazis did years ago. The only difference is that the Nazis favored it for theoretical reasons (eugenics, racial purity), while present-day liberals favor it for consumer needs (unwanted, inconvenient).”2


1 Walker Percy, “Why Are You Catholic?” in Signposts in a Strange Land, ed. Patrick Samway (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1991), 310.
2 See Kairos Journal article, “Nazi Racial Cleansing: the American Link.”


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