As you can tell from the last post I've been thinking a lot lately, for like the past year, about what it means to live according to God's will. It hasn't been easy but I'm happy and blessed, I think, to feel like I've come to some answers that work for me. It's been a long road, lots of twists, turns and seeming reverses. And sometimes it's felt dark.
Recently I've been rewatching the all-too-genius, ended-too-soon show Deadwood. This is the third or fourth time watching the first season and each time I get something different. This time these two conversations really stood out to me. The show is about how people build community, in the semi-historical setting of Deadwood, a real town in the Black Hills of South Dakota that sprung up around the gold strikes but that existed illegally in defiance of treaties signed with the Lakota. So as to not appear secessionist there was no formal administration of the town. The show explores how people form community using language and power, whether physical, intellectual or class or gender based. One of my favorite characters is Reverend Smith, who seems to be the only person in the town to express publicly any kind of faith. His only power is his goodness, which people make space for in the town. What makes his character so interesting to me is that while many admire his faith and even seem to long for his certainty in a divine purpose to make sense of everything, they can't seem to get there. For some it's because of their experience in the Civil War. Others because of the evils that exist in the town, the murder, greed, corruption and hate. But the show never plays down to his unswerving faith or seeks to portray it as some pathology. And when he undergoes a crisis of faith due to a progressive brain tumor that robs him of his connection to the Lord, but which he seems certain still exists on some level, the characters in the show, some of them the worst offenders, can't help but manifest the mercy they deem lacking in the Lord he still so fervently loves.
So below is one of the first conversations he has, with the doctor, where he first conveys his crisis of faith. And the doctor responds none too well to this troubled confession of faith, which sets up the doctor in a later episode to confront his own issues regarding God and His plan. The text by itself doesn't convey the tenderness and fear expressed by each character, so I'm including a video clip of another scene as well. It's of a sermon given by the reverend upon the death of Wild Bill Hickok, where he attempts to call some of the major players in the town to a divine understanding of the part all of us play in God's plan for the world. It also gives a sense of the amazing writing in this show, which is nearly as inspiring to me as anything else.
I also feel I should say, as a responsible blogger, this show is BRUTAL. It's incredibly graphic in all its portrayals of the good and evil found in humanity. I love this show but it's hard to recommend to everyone for those reasons!