In a few minutes the door opened and a young mozo stood there and he and the rider spoke and the man nodded toward the outside and the mozo looked toward the outer door and at the other rider and at the boy and then withdrew and shut the door. They waited. – Cormac McCarthy. The Crossing.

I pulled this sentence from McCarthy’s The Crossing for a couple of reasons.

  1. The content of the sentence isn’t profound, as in it will never be found in quotebooks, but it’s interesting to see how a master handles minutae. Three people meet and stand there looking at each other. It’s not profound. It’s not critical to the plot. But it is critical to the making of the world, both for the reader and the author. All of McCarthy’s books reshape the desires of the heart like a magnet in metal shavings, and they do it by sparking the imagination. It’s important for the author because he has to love what he is creating. It’s important for the reader because his love has to be ignited and moved. Essentially, he is creating a world in which both the author and the reader can inhabit and cultivate and move about the spectrum of human experience. And experience is nothing but minutae. Sometimes one experience becomes profound, such as the birth of a child, but it is still only one experience in the millions we have each day. McCarthy handles insignificant events, such as the quoted one, with the same language as he does the disappearance and death of a brother later in the book.
  2. Secondly, in one sentence McCarthy uses the conjunction and nine times without using a single comma. In effect, the rhythm makes the reader wait. You can feel the tension of the plot even in the grammar. It’s common knowledge that the King James version of the Bible has been a major influence on McCarthy, both stylistically and thematically, but one can easily see the influence in a sentence like this. Take a look at the book of Genesis: The creation account of Chapter 1 has 35 sentences; all but two begin with the word “and”. Also, there are over 100 occurrences of the word “and” in those 35 sentences. Interestingly, the narrators of the Bible handle significant events, like birth, death, battle, the creation of the world, with the same language as any of the insignificant events, like the market rate of real estate. I think the effect that it has is raising all of the events to a higher level of significance; like a quiet man whose words are wise, and who holds weight in conversation. He has no need to shout, but men rather stop their own chatter to listen.

From the Amarillo Daily News, October 30, 1928. Author unknown:

…One of these factions is Catholic, the other protestant. I know that Protestants pray, because I have prayed with them. And I know that Catholics pray, – and pray direct to God, – for not long since I passed by a little Catholic graveyard in the vicinity of Umbarger, Texas. It was small and its grave stones were simple and humble indeed. There, kneeling by a grave, was a man and five little children, each pair of hands in prayerful attitude, and each face lifted toward heaven. I was touched by this sorrowful scene. I asked the inhabitants of the neighborhood about it, and was told that the man is a Catholic, and that once each week he and his children repair to this little cemetery and offer prayer beside the humble grave of a departed wife and mother. 

There was a man with me who was wearing a button on the lapel of his coat with this inscription: “I am a Democrat for Hoover.” I saw him pull off that button and quietly drop it to the ground, as he remarked:

“I had but one reason for wearing that button. I will not vote against my party on account of any man’s religion or his method of worshiping God." 

The man praying by the grave was my great-grandfather, Paul Artho. The oldest of the five children in prayerful attitude was my grandmother. She was seven.

We found this newspaper clipping in my grandmother’s attic after her house burned down in February (the day before my second son was born). In that house that burned, she and I used to pray an "Our Father” over meals, and then I’d listen as she prayed for the souls of the faithful departed in their journeys through Purgatory. 

I took this photo today at my folks’ place; it shows why the conquistadors and vaqueros called the town in which I live “Amarillo” which means yellow in Spanish. We’ve had less than half-an-inch of rain in 2011, and about two weeks worth of 100 degree days.

Romans 8:22 – For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

I’m convinced that bad art derives, like bad literary theory, from bad theology. To know God falsely is to write and paint and sculpt and cook and dance Him falsely. Perhaps it’s not poor artistic skill that yields bad Christian art, in other words, but poor Christianity…

…The worst Christian novels seem to forget Oswald Chambers’s insightful observation, which is that God promises deliverance in suffering, not deliverance from suffering. And so they lie about the world and about God and about the quiet, enduring faith of our brethren in anguish…

…Like pornography, sentimentality corrupts the sight and the soul, because it is passion unearned. Whether it is Xerxes weeping at the morality of his unknown minions assembled at the Hellespont, or me being tempted to well up as the protagonist in Facing the Giants grips his Bible and whimpers in a glen, the rightful rejoinder is the same: you didn’t earn this emotion…

This, finally, is what especially worries me, that bad Christian art is a problem of demand rather than supply. What if a reinvigorated Church were to embed genuine faith in the artist’s psyche and soul, such that he need no longer wear it on his sleeve, such that he bear to see and tell the world in its brokenness and beauty? Would Christian audiences embrace or despise the result?

– Tony Woodlief

So noir exists as the fiction of moral breakdown, the fiction of corruption, and yes, the fiction of reprobation. To its practitioners, this also makes it realistic fiction, because it depicts the world—this side of Christ’s coming—as it truly is: not a realm of Newtonian regularity on the path to an ever brighter future, but a shattered, dystopian place only putting on a show of law and order.

J. Mark Bertrand in byFaith (via commentmagazine)

The rest of the article is the best lesson I’ve read on the noir genre, and yes, I have researched this before.