The most important part of the story is the ending.
I just finished reading "The Road"
by Cormack McCarthy (with NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE! emblazoned on the cover) and had some thoughts I felt like I'd share.
First, this book is a tense read. Life (that is, human life, see later) is excruciatingly fragile and you never know whether some horror lurks around the corner for our two protagonists, a boy and his father (simply called "the man" and "the boy"). It's set in a dystopian future that is complete in its grey, bleak depiction of a hellish landscape devoid of any life (and I mean any, no plants, no animals, everything is dead but a handful of men roaming the earth, eating each other or the leftovers of anything they can find) caused by a unnamed apocalypse that has scorched the earth leaving only ashes and death in its wake. The man and his boy are making their way south to the coast. They have no idea what awaits them there, only some nameless hope that perhaps it may not be so cold, or so dead. So that's the premise.
Set in this theater, I was struck by one scene where the man is described as coming upon an abandoned library. He leafs through a soggy book and looks at overturned and ransacked shelves and thinks to himself that the library is a joke, simply because it was built on the premise that generations would survive to reap its treasures. Stop and think about that idea for a moment. We build things because we presume that life will go on. If we knew that the future is only bleak existence, or no existence at all, what would we do? We live life on premise!
This why I'm always astonished at the resilience of atheists in the face of hopelessness. They live their lives, faithfully maintaining that there is no meaning beyond living and dying, and yet seemingly going about their business as usual, some fruitfully so, as though it had meaning.
In a sense, McCarthy's portrayal in The Road reflects this. The man and the boy push on to something, anything, past horrors unspeakable, the man speaking to his boy of "carrying the fire" and "being the good guys", all the while everything they see and experience is shouting to them that "all is vanity and a striving after the wind".
But of course, that's how we're built. Those who succumb to the idea that existence is meaningless, that the end is a sharp pain perhaps, then nothing, either become like animals or simply commit suicide, or, through cognitive dissonance, convince themselves that there's some purpose despite things. Otherwise, most of us live life expecting life to continue, expecting life to have some purpose ultimately.
And that's why I love the book of Revelation. Sure, it can be confusing, but one thing it tells us is that, in the end, it'll all be set right. We finally meet God face to face, unencumbered by everything that is nasty about us and about the world. Wrongs will be made right and right will be rewarded. And somehow, though we can scarcely imagine it, it will eclipse any darkness we've every known like a million suns over an ink stain. Like the summit on a tall mountain, this gives us something to fix our eyes on as we trek along. And if we believe this is how things will go, that changes how we live our story now.
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