Author: Louis Lamour
The phrase “the quick and the dead” is an old one. Ancient. Biblical. It even inspires a line in the Apostle’s Creed, made easy to memorize by an popular Rich Mullins song:
I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ
His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried
And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man
I believe that He who suffered
Was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
On the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where
He sits at God’s mighty right hand
I believe that He’s returning to
Judge the quick and the dead
Of the sons of men
Despite my religious background, I first knew this phrase from watching the western with my dad. I think it was the Sam Elliot one, if I recall. (Not to be confused with the unrelated story starring Sharon Stone that came out in the 90’s.)
Sadly, however, I’d never read the book. I grew up on westerns. I’ve seen every John Wayne movie a dozen times over. A running joke growing up was when the song The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence came on and my dad would snicker and say “John Wayne, he did it.” By the way, that’s my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie… not It’s a Wonderful Life. Not Shop Around the Corner. But the western where John Wayne swoops in and delivers all his token John Wayne lines. (Maybe it’s my second favorite Jimmy Stewart movie, actually. I really love Shenandoah.)
Despite all this western movie culture that was instilled in the very fiber of my being – I’d never read a western until this week. Historical fiction, sure. But not an actual serial western. Which is even odder when you take into consideration how I enjoy taking the western paperbacks under my wing at work, running them most Saturdays until you couldn’t squeeze another title on the shelf even if you tried. I love the old men that shop there. Some are wonderfully sweet. Some are highly inappropriate and should probably never go out in public. But I love them all, and I love helping them find their Comptons and Cottons, Keltons and Grey, and above all – Louis L’amour.
The realization that I have made a point to read a title from every section in the store yearly but never tackled westerns came slow and tickled at the corners of my brain for quite awhile. I wanted to try the Sacketts first, but the first one wasn’t in stock that day. So I grabbed the first familiar title I knew.
It’s such a marvelous book. It was such a relaxing and easy read, despite the suspense of it all. I have half a mind to read the whole dang section now.
In time. I will, in time.
Until then, I think I feel a movie night coming on…
What’s your favorite western (book or movie)?