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Filtering by Tag: evil

Digging in the Dirt

Joanna Campbell


There is a stranger in usa naked, needy, hungry portion of ourselves, a lost brother or sister of our own soulto be reclaimed by being accepted consciously and allowed expression in life. John A. Sanford, The Kingdom Within

A man I know was murdered on Sunday. I didn’t know him well, but our paths crossed, and our circle of friends overlapped. His circle was wide and encompassing. TC Edwards was passionate about music, rock n’ roll to be exact. He was African-American. I loved the contrast of his long dreadlocks with his passion for heavy metal. But then, TC was a person of contrasts. He was on the autism spectrum, which close friends noted was mild. It is not clear if his autism or his sweet, gentle heart made him vulnerable to bullying. It is not clear yet if the man in his neighborhood who burglarized TC’s home and assaulted TC is the same person who shot him in the back of the head. Here is what I do know. The person who shot TC hid from his own inner darkness, and the hungry, ailing stranger within him got sicker and sicker until the shooter thought homicide would kill the now-monstrous part of himself.

I don’t pretend to have answers or sophisticated arguments about our epidemic of violence. TC’s murder was cruel. The childhood violence that was possibly inflicted on the shooter is cruel. The violence he continued to inflict on himself is tragic. He is part of the walking dead. He left hundreds reeling with grief.

John Sanford writes that unless we are willing to face the naked, needy, and hungry stranger within us, what Sanford calls our unconscious, it will turn even darker and eat us alive. If we can invite the stranger in, “we bring Christ into our lives. Christ himself is in the lost part of our souls.”

For my friends who may not believe in a Christian god or are not inclined toward a faith tradition, may I suggest substituting the words, Love or Hope or Gratitude, for the word, Christ.

In the muck of our fears and pain and revenge fantasies is the chance to find something new. The muck is the place of dirt, scraps, feces, and bones. In other words, compost. The stranger within each of us begs for creative renewal. It wants to be something beautiful.

The Purpose of Evil?

Ross Gale

64df6320-dc76-11e3-a0fc-3d5529a6ae18_Fargo-Love-Story Colin Hanks tweeted that they re-wrote the script for the ending of Fargo, the TV show, multiple times before they gave up re-writing and just went with what they had. They weren’t satisfied, but there wasn’t anything they could do to fix their dissatisfaction. It’s the same dissatisfaction I feel when the closing credits roll. Molly, Gus, and his daughter sitting cozy on the couch. Molly will be police chief soon. Gus earned an award for bravery. Life in Bemidji continues. The bad guy, Lorne Malvo, is shot and killed by Gus — he gets what’s coming — but evil, that persistent thing, is never finally dealt with. Fargo doesn’t know what to do with evil. 

Flannery O'Connor said of her own work, "I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.” O'Connor is specifically speaking about her story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” where an escaped convict senselessly murders a family: mother, father, children, baby, grandma. Fargo lacks any of the grace O’Connor refers to. In Fargo, death is for the unfortunate, not for those on the verge of eternity. This is why the ending is so unsatisfying: the absence of grace. The only thing at stake is “normal” of life in Bemidji.

The moral of Fargo is about vigilance. Don’t become one of the unlucky ones. But the story of violence should propel us beyond vigilance to a confrontation with the eternal. Not for the sake of normalcy, but for the sake of souls.

Telling the Depraved: Cormac McCarthy's Hard Stare at Evil

Michael Dechane

23 sunset_limited I don't think anyone paints evil like Cormac McCarthy. Part of what I mean is that I don't know of another author who has looked that deeply and clearly into what evil is, and what it does, and how it works itself out in our time. I think he's telling the way-down truth about what greed looks like, and what it does, when I watch The Counselor. I think he is speaking most honestly and most earnestly about lust when I read Child of God. I think he sees the darkness of life untethered from what is true, good, and beautiful more clearly than anyone when I try and take in The Road, or am afflicted with what I remember of Blood Meridian. That would all be horrifying and weighty enough, but I read The Sunset Limited, and I saw it played out (thanks, HBO) about as well as it could be since Michael Clarke Duncan couldn't be cast as Black. And it is dramatically more horrifying to realize that McCarthy, to a degree, gets it: he understands and can write the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ more compellingly than most pastors I listen to.

The list of things I am not, or not much of, is unbelievably long. I don't make bones: I'm no theologian. Or literary critic. But I do know a lot about work. And I know this about prophets: their work, their job, is to speak for God, to us. And I believe McCarthy is prophetic. See? I can't even say it straight, I have to edge up to it. I believe Cormac McCarthy is, perhaps unwittingly or unwillingly, but in actuality, acting and writing at the insistence of the God of the Bible, my beloved Papa, our worshiped and rejected Abba. We could try and talk (here, below in the comments thread) about epistemology, or eschatology, or a proper understanding of false prophets, or my literary pedigree, or my story and how I've come to believe I know Jesus when I hear Him. But what I really want to talk about is the mystery of how and when, and through whom, God chooses to speak.

Fargo and the Force of Evil

Ross Gale

7 article-0-1D236F0900000578-75_634x462 I tend to think of evil in three categories. The first is the snake-in-the-garden tempter. The second is an immovable force of destruction like a tornado or a hurricane. The third is a bad guy with a gun, the classic antagonist. What happens when you roll all three into one character? (Drum roll, please!) You have Lorne Malvo from the new TV show Fargo. And where you find Malvo, you’ll find the bolito.

In Cormac McCarthy’s script for The Counselor, a drug-dealing businessman describes how Mexican cartels use the bolito to kill its victims. The bolito is a loop of wire that slips around the neck. A small motor is turned on and the wire pulls tight and tighter until the victim bleeds out or is decapitated. In many of McCarthy’s stories, evil is like a powerful, motor-driven force with no off-switch. A blood bath always ensues. That same evil is the driving force in Fargo where Malvo brings a bolito to the small Minnesota town of Bemidji.

Lorne Malvo is a humorous character who fits Fargo’s Coen-esque dark-humor. But in Bernidji we find that no matter how random Malvo’s killing, no matter how silly and misinformed the good, the story still pits evil against good. And this evil is always aided by both our inability to recognize it and/or our lack of courage to hunt it out.

Fighting evil is always an active pursuit of the truth, no matter how crazy, confusing or bloody. As in much of McCarthy’s canon, the force of evil seems irresistible, enveloping the unaware and the weak. It may give great temporary power to destroy, but it will always kill them.

And Fargo demonstrates how it tears apart the fabric of the community. Duluth officer Gus Grimly asks himself, “Am I supposed to put myself in danger or just let it go?” That’s the question the town must ask itself. Is it the question we should ask ourselves?

The Gospel According to Cormac McCarthy, or, What's Greek for "bad news"?

Brad Fruhauff

The Judge is scary because he makes a lot of sense. Given the darkness of the world we live in, McCarthy’s villains are particularly frightening because they are so hard to disagree with. Evil, as portrayed in McCarthy, is not something to ignore. Yet, as Cosper writes, there is always a glimmer of hope.

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