I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Judge lately. He’s the one who keeps us from reaching – what? – fulfillment, potential, Nirvana, whatever we aspire to. “Who are you,” he asks, “to be something in this world?” In some translations of the Old Testament, he is sometimes referred to as The Accuser. Ask Job. Or the Buddha. Sitting under the bodhi tree and ready to step into The Light, the forces of Mara came and asked the same. “Who do you think you are?” The Judge has been with us for millennia. Or more.
The Judge plays a central role in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and no less than the esteemed book critic Harold Bloom describes the Judge as “the most terrifying figure in all of American literature”. How true. The Judge is an agent of chaos, a catalyst for evil. These are different things. Toward the end of the book, the Kid and Tobin the ex-priest are hiding in the desert, watching as the unarmed Judge and the Fool pass by. The ex-priest urges the Kid to kill the Judge.
“Do him,” he hissed.
“You’ll get no second chance lad. Do it. He is naked. He is unarmed. God’s blood, do you think you’ll best him any other way? Do it, lad. Do it for the love of God. Do it or I swear your life is forfeit.”
And yet the Kid will not and turns and heads off to the West looking into the sun.
It wasn’t the last time the Kid saw the Judge…and let’s say, it doesn’t go well for the Kid.
When we have that moment to turn back the Judge, will we turn him back and step into the Light? Or will we listen to him? Will we listen to him and look off to the West, staring at the sun?