“The Road” is not a religious film, let alone a Christian one. But the deep questions raised and the spiritual themes embedded present “a unique entry point for those in the faith community to share the hope of the Gospel in a hopeless world,” said A. Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications, the Christian media company that was asked to take the film to the faith-based community.
In an article posted on Christian Today Australia, the above quote sets the stage for a discussion of how the film can be used to draw “the not-yet-believer” to faith in Christ.
“What’s in every single scene of that film is coping with the disappearance [of] humanity,” Screenwriter Joe Penhall said. Religiousness, spirituality, music, and love all constitute humanity and the film depicts the horror of its gradual disappearance.
“How do we continue to generate humanity when humanity as a concept is fading into history?” he posed.
The central characters, father and son, are said in the novel to be “carrying the fire.” Author Cormac McCarthy leaves it to the reader to define what that means. Reviewers commonly interpret it to mean they are on a mission to preserve what is left of hope and human decency.
The Road has been compared to The Lord of the Rings in this regard, and not simply because the two films share a lead actor. Something is compelling the central characters to keep going, despite all odds or lack of evidence of hope, and complete the journey. In both stories, mankind/humanity faces annihilation if the “good guys” lose.
Good vs. evil is one of the recurring conversations between father and son. They repeatedly affirm to each other “we’re the good guys.” As encounters with other survivors become increasingly violent, the boy asks the father “are we still the good guys?” The implication is, the fire may be fading, hope may be lost, there may be no way to survive but to become “one of them.”
How anyone manages to remain hopeful in such a world is a question that must be asked. What is there to hope for? What if there isn’t anything better down the road? How can a loving God let this happen?
These are questions that Christianity begs to answer in the real world today. Christians would do well to read the book and see the film, then join in the conversation.