Searching for Walker Percy in St. Francisville
Religion & Liberty Online

Searching for Walker Percy in St. Francisville

Walker Percy wrote novels that explored the “dislocation of man in the modern age” and that were “delivered with a poetic Southern sensibility and informed by the author’s deep Catholic faith.” To celebrate the novelist’s life and work, the people of St. Francisville, Louisiana host an annual Walker Percy Weekend.

Caroline Roberts, a writer and producer of the Radio Free Acton podcast, attended this year’s event and wrote about the experience for the latest edition of Acton Longform, our new feature writing project that “gives readers and journalists the space they need for stories about how we live today.”

The first day of the festival began on a Friday night. That evening, people dressed in seersucker suits and white linen dresses gathered at the historic Grace Episcopal Church yard for a reception over mint juleps. It was there that I struck up a conversation with Brian A. Smith, the managing editor of Liberty Fund’s Law and Liberty online publication. To my surprise, he told me that he often gives Percy’s book, “Lost in the Cosmos,” to young adults who he knows are searching for purpose, because the book acts like “a mirror.” “You’ll see just about every worldview dancing around in our society today, represented in its pages,” Smith said. “And they’re all given pretty unstinted criticism. So I guess if there’s been a strategy behind my giving the book out, it’s always been that people who are asking questions about the meaning of life often find that Percy has named it, named their confusions and given them good reasons for it.”

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).