Saturday 12 March 2011

From Father Smith's sermon - The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy


I observed some of you. But do you know what you are doing? I observe a benevolent feeling here. There is also a tenderness. At the bedside of some children this morning I observed you shed tears.

"Do you know where tenderness leads? Tenderness leads to the gas chambers.”


“These are strange times. There are now two kinds of people. This has never happened before. One are decent, tenderhearted, unbelieving, philanthropic people. The other are some preachers who tell the truth about the Lord but are themselves often rascals if not thieves.

"What a generation! Believing thieves and decent unbelievers! The Great Depriver’s finest hour! Not a guilty face here! Everyone here is creaming in his drawers from tenderness! But beware, tender hearts!

"Don’t you know where tenderness leads? To the gas chambers.”


"Never in the history of the world have there been so many civilized tenderhearted souls as have lived in this century.

"Never in the history of the world have so many people been killed.

" More people have been killed in this [twentieth] century by tenderhearted souls than by cruel barbarians in all other centuries put together."

The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy, 1987



The Crow said...

I had to wonder at this post.
The book, apparently was a disappointment to some, as I discovered after reading a review. Full of anger, it claimed, largely for the sake of anger.
Whatever it is, was, intended to be, it certainly displayed a grim and hopeless view of life.

Knowing all the things that could go fatally wrong, at any second, does little to encourage living.
It does, however, encourage one to examine the possible benefits of preempting the possibility of the unpleasant.
Will we readers have to ponder this without a hint? Was there a reason?

Bruce Charlton said...

I found the Thanatos Syndrome to be mostly bad - padded-out, sensationalistic - but the parts featuring the priest seemed to have flashes of genuine profundity, even prophecy.