Not the most romantic of movies, but we went to see There Will Be Blood last night. It's a terrific movie. If you haven't yet seen it, do. No matter how big your plasma screen, you'll need to see this one on the big screen.
Oil, Crude and Spiritual, are the two things two men are drilling for. Boring down into dangerous fissures within themselves and their communities, risking explosion and hurt to those around them. Daniel Day Lewis' extraordinary performance as Daniel Plainview, and Paul Dano's equally good one as revivalist revelation cult leader Eli Sunday are full of gutteral, primordial sounds, helped along by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood's score.
No matter how deep they dig, and what riches they bring themselves - crude or spiritual - it's real blood that they both know are absent. Plainview's 'son' is simply an orphan he took on, the brother that finds him a fraud, and the blood of Jesus that Sunday screams for never materialises into grace. There may be oil and wealth, but there is no blood, no family blood to root one of them, none of God's blood to save either. And so they fight and drill deeper into darker places.
This is, of course, a film about the American identity: a country built on escape from back-slidden families, a new puritan world with opportunities for all. A country built on, and sustained by, oil. Yet, it seems, a country at sea in its own quest for identity, for real history. As an outsider it seems the US is, more than elsewhere, a country in search of blood. Family blood - desperately trying to cling on to Scottish, Irish, African, Spanish heritage - and God's blood - desperately trying to divine Christ's blood to purify all the soiled ground beneath everyone's feet.
And, in the final instance, as in the film, there is blood. There always will be. In the madness of the consuming search for God's blood and our family's blood, we strike out and wound the other. If we get blood-fever, like Gold or Oil Fever, then blood we will find. Violent, painful and destructive. The same blood lust that wounded Christ.
Grace needs no drilling, no violence to the earth or the body. Instead, it seeps into us if we will seek the peace and silence to simply wait for it. Only then will it, in the mystery of the elements, become blood, binding us to God and our brother, allowing a gentle security of identity to take root.