Walker Percy Wednesday 113


“He told me that he had—ah—discovered a mathematical proof of what God’s will is, that is, what we must do in these dangerous times.”


There was more excitement in prison, more argument, more clash of ideology. In Alabama we were polarized every which way, into pro-nukes and anti-nukes, liberals and conservatives, atheists and believers, anti-Communists and anti-anti-Communists, born-again Christians, old-style relaxed Catholics, lapsed Catholics, Barbara Walters haters, Barbara Walters lovers.
Nothing like Alabama!
The warfare in that quonset hut at Fort Pelham!
We inmates, or rather detainees—assorted con men, politicians, ex-Presidential aides, white-collar crooks, impaired physicians pushing pills, mercy killers, EPA inspectors on the take from lumber and oil barons—criminals all, but on the whole engaging and nonmurderous. And next door, Hope Haven, a community of impaired priests, burned-out ministers and rabbis, none criminal, none detained, but all depressed, nutty, or alcoholic, generally all three, who had not run afoul of the law as we had but had just conked out, and so had great sympathy for us and made themselves available.


“It is not a question of belief or unbelief. Even if such things were all proved, if the existence of God, heaven, hell, sin were all proved as certainly as the distance to the sun is proved, it would make no difference, would it?”
“To whom?”
“To people! To unbelievers and to so-called believers.”
“Why wouldn’t it?”
“Because the words no longer signify.”
“Why is that?”
“Because the words have been deprived of their meaning.”
“By a depriver.”
“Right. Once, everyone admits, such signs signified. Now they do not.”


He has the super-sane chipperness of the true nut.