Sex, God and Writing

Four Catholic thinkers who sinned their way to faith

In 1971 Walker Percy sent a draft of his new novel, Love in the Ruins, to his old friend Shelby Foote. "What's it about?" Percy teased. "Screwing and God (which all Catholic novels since Augustine have been about)."

Both themes (in that order) figure in Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 555 pages), an ingeniously woven literary tapestry that tells the stories of four great American Catholic writers of the 20th century--Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day.

The Augustinian motif of sinning one's way to God...

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