Saturday, January 1, 2011

John Wayne without theology

I would have never thought I would write a post with that title! I did not realise that engagement with a movie such as True Grit, the movie in which John Wayne won his only Academy Award, required a knowledge of theological issues.
Yet there is fascinating Opinionator piece on the New York Times website by Stanley FishNarrative and the Grace of God: The new "True Grit". This underscores my earlier post asserting that one cannot not truly understand Western history and literature (and even the latest Hollywood movies) without a knowledge of theology.

Below is some the text of the article, which also quotes 2 Timothy 1:9. What is fascinating to me is that Fish actually states that there is a correct reading of the text! Why is this fascinating? Because as you can see from the Wikipedia page about him his approach to texts is largely post-modern and relativist.

“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.
A third sentence, left out of the film but implied by its dramaturgy, tells us that the latter reading is the right one: “You cannot earn that [grace] or deserve it.”

1 comment:

  1. Stanley Fish is someone who I read whenever he writes, even though he often infuriates me. And as much as I don't share his radical PoMo views (though I am moderately PoMo myself) he is nonetheless very insightful and I always learn something.