Dec 30, 2010

Narrative and the Grace of God: The New ‘True Grit’

(Stanley Fish/NYTimes) ... In the movie we have just been gifted with, there is no relationship between the two; heroism, of a physical kind, is displayed by almost everyone, “good” and “bad” alike, and the universe seems at best indifferent, and at worst hostile, to its exercise. The springs of that universe are revealed to us by the narrator-heroine Mattie in words that appear both in Charles Portis’s novel and the two films, but with a difference. The words the book and films share are these: “You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free with the exception of God’s grace.” These two sentences suggest a world in which everything comes around, if not sooner then later. The accounting is strict; nothing is free, except the grace of God. But free can bear two readings — distributed freely, just come and pick it up; or distributed in a way that exhibits no discernible pattern. In one reading grace is given to anyone and everyone; in the other it is given only to those whom God chooses for reasons that remain mysterious. Continued

Photo: My great, great grandmother, Clarksville Arkansas c1860. Her family adhered to a theology nearly identical to that of Mattie in True Grit. They were hard people. One of her son's-in-law, whom, I suppose, came from touchy-feely stock, lamented that he could "break his leg in the living room and nobody would bat an eye."