No Country for Lesser Teachers

In Film on July 10, 2008 at 3:45 am

Last night, I  watched the Academy Award’s Best Picture of the Year for 2007, No Country for Old Men.  Although the title and ending strongly suggest the buried meaning of the movie, I  was quite tempted to think of this flick as a cowboy shoot ‘em up meets serial killer.  The Coen Brothers, directors of the film, cleverly construct a plot around narrator Tommy Lee Jones even though he doesn’t become central until the last quarter of the story.  Even as the main killer, Chigurh, displays annoyance at the frivolous inconsistencies in the lives of the West Texas residents, the county sheriff also grows weary of the senseless violence.  The writers set up a tension between the meaningless existence lived by many and the senseless violence done among them.

Honestly, I  do not think that I  fully got it.  I  would need to watch it again to saturate in the nuances, and parallels drawn between law enforcing sheriff and self-appointed justice enforcer, Chigurh.  However, I  will say that the title and the ending drew me out of the fear of violence and into the possibility that there were deeper suggestions in the movie, rather than just violence for its own sake.

I  was watching the movie on our date night, while Lindsay retired to our bedroom because the suspense and violence became too much for her.  I  felt the pull most of the movie to turn it off.  I  ran into quite the tension; because, I  was in between my desire to see the highly-recommended movie and remain obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  While I  felt God suggesting I  turn the film off, there was another force at work.  I  do not want to live in a way that is ‘sheltered’.  I  want to have the courage to engage with the world.   As I  continued praying this morning, I  realized that courage was acting as my master.  I  was letting my own notion of courage direct me to continue watching the movie, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit within me.

Letting courage direct me is not a bad thing, except that ‘No student can be greater than his master and no slave can be greater than his master.’ (~Jesus of Nazareth).  This presents a very specific problem; my decisions to follow courage lead to control by courage.  I  live under the constraint of courage (or my notion of it) directing my actions rather than having a heart that is directed by God.  For this reason, I  must not be mastered by anything except that be God Himself.  Otherwise, I  will be far too narrowed under the yoke of much lesser gods (in fact no gods at all).  It is almost another way of thinking about God; the one true being who can be my teacher and continually offer ways to learn and grow.

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