“When You Stop Pretending That You Know”: Gnosis, Humility, and Christian Charity in Cormac McCarthy’s The Stonemason

Abstract Increasingly addressing the religious dimension of Cormac McCarthy’s work, critics have frequently rooted it in a Gnosticism which holds, first, that the world is a place of evil and suffering and, second, that salvation is attained through knowledge made available only to the elect. The St...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Religion and the arts
Main Author: DeCoste, D. Marcel
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Brill 2021
In: Religion and the arts
Year: 2021, Volume: 25, Issue: 1/2, Pages: 125-146
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B McCarthy, Cormac 1933-, The stonemason / Gnosis / Mysticism / Modesty / Love of neighbor
IxTheo Classification:BF Gnosticism
CB Christian life; spirituality
CE Christian art
Further subjects:B Ethics
B Cormac McCarthy
B Christianity
B Gnosticism
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Summary:Abstract Increasingly addressing the religious dimension of Cormac McCarthy’s work, critics have frequently rooted it in a Gnosticism which holds, first, that the world is a place of evil and suffering and, second, that salvation is attained through knowledge made available only to the elect. The Stonemason , however, seems intent on refuting just such a thesis. Focusing on Ben and his grandfather Papaw, a centenarian stonemason, the play presents Ben as seeking, through mastery of the mason’s secrets, to become custodian to knowledge that will unlock the mysteries not just of a trade but of the cosmos. Yet this Gnostic quest fosters in him a moral negligence that leads to the deaths of two family members. Indeed, Ben’s tragedy stems precisely from his Gnostic prizing of secret lore and indifference to the Christian lessons Papaw himself most values—lessons not in god-like knowledge but in the practice of faith, humility, and love.
ISSN:1568-5292
Contains:Enthalten in: Religion and the arts
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/15685292-02501004