When the City of Man is so pleasant

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. – Colossians 3:2

In Walker Percy’s novel The Moviegoer (1961), Binx Bolling describes his Uncle Jules. His description warns the Christian reader not to make his home in affluent America, thus inverting a familiar idiom, “Don’t be so earthly-minded that you’re no heavenly good” [1]:

Uncle Jules is the only man I know whose victory in the world is total and unqualified. He has made a great deal of money, he has a great many friends, he was Rex of Mardi Gras, he gives freely of himself and his money. He is an exemplary Catholic, but it is hard to know why he takes the trouble. For the world he lives in, the City of Man, is so pleasant that the City of God must hold little in store for him. I see his world plainly through his eyes and I see why he loves it and would keep it as it is: a friendly easy-going place of old-world charm and new-world business methods where kind white folks and carefree darkies have the good sense to behave pleasantly toward each other. No shadow ever crosses his face, except when someone raises the subject of last year’s Tulane-L.S.U. game. 

[1] “Dont be so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good.”


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