Thursday, June 28, 2012

"The Road" and Restlessness


Just finished reading “the Road” by Cormac McCarthy. 
It’s an odd book, but upon analysis you realize it’s thoroughly thought provoking. The author does a superb job of imagining hell, with the exception that you can die. The world has no real light, there is no warmth, there are no animals or vegetation of any kind, the world is covered in ashes that the rain cannot clear out. Despite the rain however everything has mummified, nothing decays or decomposes, the world is strangely immutable. But that’s the good news, the bad is that roving bands of murderous gangs scour the land looking for food, and since it’s all gone and nothing grows they eat each other, but nevertheless, the world teems and swarms with starving, bitter, emaciated people.  They torture each other, preying on the weak, for society and manners, goodness has crumbled and vanished, the Christians are all gone, but the people remain, even though they have given up hope of a future, and are instead driven on by a kind of psychotic stubbornness or hatred.
The ‘good guys’ are defined as those who won’t eat you after they kill you on sight, but this is only really done because it’s their own personal taboo, not because it’s the right thing to do.  Altruism exists only because of purely selfish motivations.
 
But what I thought the author did the best job with was that the people in his story are restless. In one scene the father and son find a safe house full of food and they leave it behind, on the surface it makes no sense, but the author wanted to make the point that the inhabitants of hell cannot let themselves rest, even if it is to their own detriment.
That is tremendously insightful writing from what I assume is a non-Christian, because that is the condition of fallen humanity.

Case in point: the lady next to me on the plane cannot rest. She squirms in her seat and opens and closes the paper. She is not really enjoying reading, because she’s not really reading. She’s griping at her husband, opening and closing the New York times articles a thousand times, scanning up and down, frowning, grumbling under her breath.  

And just as the kingdom of heaven has a ‘now, but not fully yet’ so too does the kingdom (if you can call it that) of hell have a ‘now, and not yet’ aspect. Because hell is full of tired, restless, hungry, starving people. God commanded that a day of rest be observed because otherwise no rest would be taken, and for those who refuse to obey Him, even that simple command to be good to yourself is ignored. Our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in you said Augustine.  He is right.

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