Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thoughts on No Country for Old Men

Last week I furiously subway-read No Country For Old Men, and it's lingered in my thoughts ever since I finished it. The book, narrated by an aging Texas sheriff who's tracking down a brutal killer, meditates on the drastic changes he's witnessed over the decades, in particular, the visible escalation of unspeakable violence that accompanied the rising prevalence of drug use and trafficking. There's a terrifying sense of inevitability in the book-- the murderer is so unhuman and so unstoppable that justice shouldn't even attempt to prevail.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune puts it, McCarthy's point is that modernity has "damaged beyond repair, warped beyond recognition, mutated so horrifically" the tradition of personal, familial, and communal responsibility to the point that " a new kind of man, a soulless, wrecking angel, may not only be loose among us but may be what we are destined to become". Scary!

But then Thursday morning this section from The Practice of the Presence of God really caught my eye:

Brother Lawrence wasn't surprised by the amount of sin and unhappiness in the world. Rather, he wondered why there wasn't more, considering the extremes to which the enemy is capable of going. He said he prayed about it, but because he knew God could rectify the situation in a moment if He willed it, he didn't allow himself to become greatly concerned.

That's such a fresh and unique point. So often you hear people remarking (including myself) that things are "getting so bad" ("when I was in middle school, kids didn't talk like that!"). But what the oh-so-wise Brother Lawrence tells us is right on-- we shouldn't be surprised by evil (it's not like it's new, folks)! We don't need to live in fear or dread because God is bigger than sin and evil and HE is the one in control of our destiny. It's only through His grace that we all aren't "soulless, wrecking angels". Good stuff.

Also... this lends more support for my doctoral thesis, "Texas Sucks".

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