A Fire Somewhere Out There in All That Dark: Permanent Things, Issue 2

We are pleased to announce the second issue of our annual journal, Permanent Things.

Below is Dr. Owen Strachan’s full introductory essay.


In the gripping film No Country for Old Men, the lead character is a sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones. Beaten down and weathered by time, the sheriff awakes from a dream and tells his wife about it. He identifies the setting as in “older times,” and then paints a spellbinding picture of cursing and hope:

I was on horseback, going through the mountains of the nights, going through this pass in the mountains… it’s cold, there was snow on the ground…he rode past me and kept on goin’ and never said anything goin’ by, just rode on past…he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down, when he rode past, I seen he was carrying fire in a horn the way people used to do, and I could see the horn from the light inside of it, about the color of the moon…and in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead, he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there, he’d be there.

And then I woke up.

I have thought often of this scene over the years. The book by Cormac McCarthy and the film both capture the twin themes mentioned above: the desperate depravity of the world alongside the vital presence of courageous hope. In the dream, the sheriff’s father is enwreathed in darkness, but he has a horn, and there is fire in it. The setting is bleak, just as the movie has functioned as a nearly unrelenting assault, a tour de force display, of the power of evil. In his writing as in the adaptation of his work, McCarthy seems not only to smirk at the postmodern dismissal of the old absolutist morality, but to leer at it. You think our world is post-moral?, he effectively says; Let me show you what a post-moral world looks like. It looks like evil, not banal evil, but restless and roaming evil, evil that tears society up and hunts down victims for no good reason.

But McCarthy must not be understood as celebrating this evil (nor does the film). In this closing scene, the dream shows the sheriff’s father going out into the “dark” and the “cold” to make a fire “somewhere.” He is just one lone figure way out in the wilderness, but he has gone ahead, riding with purpose, driving into the bleakness, fire in his possession. The sheriff does not know where his father will ultimately land, but in his dream he knows he can find him. This present darkness veils many things, but far in the distance, a fire will glow in the shadowlands.

The second release of Permanent Things celebrates light in the valley of death’s shadow. Our esteemed and estimable contributors have not intentionally tackled a common theme, but in one way or another, they each consider the need for Christic renewal, restoration, and hope in darkness. The rich original collection of thought and prose here will, we pray, encourage you to ride hard, go on ahead, and make a fire by the grace of God, somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold.

Articles and contributors:


  • The Old Script is Gone: On a Pathway to Maturity for a Generation Without Clarity by David Talcott


  • Even Atheists Dream Christian Dreams: A Profile of Douglas Murray by Esther O’Reilly


  • “Standing defiantly month after month”: Churchillian Leadership with Dr. Jason Allen


  • C. H. Spurgeon, Ecclesiologist: On Revival, Membership, and the Church by Geoff Chang


  • An Angry Age: Critic Joseph Bottum on the Fading Mainline and Raging Youth


  • “Written into the very foundations of the world”: Raising Boys in a Gender-Neutral Age by Colin Smothers


  • An Intellectual in Full: A Symposium on Philosopher Roger Scruton with Andrew T. Walker and Bryan Baise


  • They Created a Monster: Review of an Important Scruton Work by Samuel Parkison


  • The Theologian as Biblical Exegete: A Review of a Classic John Murray Text by Jeff Moore


  • Should Churches Sing Bethel and Hillsong Music? A Conversation with Costi Hinn


  • Keep Your Eyes on the Trees: An Essay on the Film 1917 by Owen Strachan


Download the full journal here.


Editor: Owen Strachan

Editorial Assistant: Mike Dixon

Design and Layout: Jason Muir

Coordinator: Abby Currence