THE THIRD PEACOCK by Robert Farrar Capon


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Father Capon, an Episcopalian priest, is the author of such extraordinary books as Bed and Board and Supper of the Lamb, and of this work, which is somewhat less extraordinary. The ""third peacock"" is a symbol of ""the freedom which we cannot live with, and will not live without""; as such it is the pivotal point in Capon's discussion of the classic problem of evil in the world -- or, as he puts it, the goodness of God and the badness of man. It turns out that goodness and badness are pretty much the same thing, but from different points of view: man eats chicken, and that is good for man; chicken gets eaten and that is bad for the chicken. And so on for earthquakes, plagues, and the eight-year-old with a brain tumor. The point is that it is all in the nature of things, i.e., of creation, and therefore it is good metaphysically. The whole is couched in Capon's inimitable style, complete with a couple of delightful fairy tales and his brilliantly wrought analogies. The stylistic glitter, however, does not quite conceal the oversimplifications or the sometimes specious argumentation -- as in his rebuttal of reductionism -- which must logically lead, not to an acceptance of Capon's conclusions, but to a suspension of judgment. On the whole, Father Capon's work is reminiscent of that of the third-century Romans; it is surpassingly eloquent and surpassingly insubstantial.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1971
Publisher: Doubleday