Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Country for Old Men - Post Modern Western

I finished reading "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy a few weeks ago. It's one of those books you just can't seem to get out of your head. Spoiler Alert: Don't continue reading if you haven't read the book or watched the movie.

It begins with your basic "good guy/bad guy" theme. A drug deal goes bad. A good old boy stumbles onto a briefcase containing millions of dollars. A psychotic hitman is trying to track him down. The good old boy proves to be more wiley than anyone would of thought. The sheriff is trying to bring the whole matter to justice, and he never gets in the game. Throughout the book he provides laments for the deteriorating culture around us. Near the end of the book a reporter asks him about the increasing problem of crime in his county. His response: "Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight." (Anyone from Texas knows what he's talking about.) "You finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it's just too late."

By far and away the psychotic hitman is the most interesting character. At one point he kills a "traditional hitman" who gets in his way convincing the reader that he is truly a new breed. Like the movie "Batman: The Dark Knight," this is an exploration into the depths of evil. He represents evil for the sake of evil. As Paul said, "The for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" (2 Thessalonians 2.7). Toward the end you begin to wonder whether he is psychotic or principled... But the principles he follows are too evil for anyone to comprehend. They make no sense.

You get the sense that this hitman is the tip of the spear when it comes to the evil of this world. But there are many forms of evil that follow in the gradual degradation of our culture. For example at one point the sheriff is at a conference seated next to a woman complaining about the "right wing" in America. She says, "I don't like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion." To which the sheriff replied, "Well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm going to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation."

Human beings have always been interested in the problem of evil. Many atheists use it as an excuse to resist believing in God. But this book leaves the reader thinking about, perhaps bewildered by, the problem of evil. I hope that those who are concerned about evil, will look to the unique message of the Christian Gospel. God has confronted evil and in fact destroyed it's power through another concept that is infinitely more difficult to comprehend... The sacrifical love of God in Christ.