Back in my Gorgias Press days one of my co-laborers (BU) suggested that I might enjoy reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Since then it has come out as a movie, and further apocalyptic events have occurred – the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the election of Chris Christie come to mind – so I finally got around to reading it. It is a harrowing book for any parent to read and I doubt I have the heart to see the movie. Already the book is spawning internet quotes and quips, but I was particularly interested in seeing how this post-apocalyptic novel handled God.
Since the Bible, via Zoroastrian influence, gave us the religious concept of the apocalypse, it is fitting to see how religion fares in its unhallowed progeny. Mostly God is absent. When the man and his son mention God, the language is spare and laced with betrayal. “There is no God and we are his prophets,” the old man declares after the man and his son leave the bunker. A few paragraphs later he states, “Where men cant live gods fare no better.” The value of the apocalyptic metaphor is that it forces us to face life as we find it: raw and uncompromising. In the fictional apocalypse it is permissible to utter aloud implications of life’s callous lessons.
My career has had its share of jagged edges. The lacerations I’ve personally received have been at the machinations of Christians eager for self-justification. Self-congratulatory individuals and collectives that suppose God has specially favored them. “There is no God and we are his prophets.” It is like reading Camus in slow motion. One of the lessons both Nashotah House and Gorgias Press taught me was that it can always get worse. Reading McCarthy’s sad yet true tale of the woe we bring upon ourselves, the lesson for those eager for the apocalypse is that they have only to open their eyes.