Road to Perdition

IMG_0464Because I was raised Christian, I’ve heard the expression “Road to perdition” all my life. The expression was the title of a book, a movie based on the book, starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, and a soundtrack from the movie.

However the roots of perdition extend further into the past.  Princeton philologist and historian Elaine Pagels, who has written several books about the origin of certain western religious concepts such as Hell and Satan, says they have ancient roots. Perdition is hell or Hel in her books and its origins extend back to the Chaldeans, Greeks and Romans.

When I awaken at 4:00 AM, this is where my mind wonders.  I can’t help it, I am descended from  long line of people who wore black. They were Puritans, Calvinists, Mennonites, and Prussian Catholics and they found each other and intermarried producing zealous children, although their various ways of understanding a Higher Power differed significantly.  No wonder they left me wondering.

I will never forget wandering into my Mom’s bedroom in the middle of the night following a nocturnal bout of sleeplessness, and finding her sitting in bed holding her ‘glow in the dark’ rosary beads and a lighted cigarette.  She was praying and smoking.  She couldn’t sleep either and we talked about God.  “I don’t believe in your father’s “vengeance is mine” God of fury and retribution she said. (Dad was descended from people who marched to The Battle Hymn of the Republic.)

At the time, I was recovering from a recent nervous breakdown, and found her words comforting.  I had come to believe in a God of Love.  Heck, it was the 1960s and everyone I knew was into peace and love, except those poor military guys who had been sent to fight our wars.

That was then.  Today, I am much more sanguine about my Higher Power. Sanguine, a word whose root refers to blood and connotes optimism, hope, robustness or health.  You see venting about politicians now and then is good for the soul.


Although he said he didn’t need my help, I drove David to his physical therapy yesterday. While waiting for him I bought myself a hot chocolate and sat down in  the atrium to read my book. The atrium was too bright for my iPad, so I moved to the PT waiting room where a retired military guy was reading a 600 page book on Stonewall Jackson.  I don’t know how much he read because idiots all around us were talking on cell phones, the bane of our existence these days.

About then David appeared looking ragged from his PT.  He hates his therapist, and says she tortures him.  And she makes him use a walker which makes him feel defeated.  He will switch to Justin beginning November 1, the therapist we have both used in the past.  Our favorite guy.

On the way out of the building, I remembered I had left my hot chocolate on the table where I sat earlier and went to fetch it.  A helpful older volunteer with beautiful white hair in a French twist, tried to steer David to a bench while he waited on me, but he pretty much told her to “get lost.” He says all these old ladies “helping” him are driving him crazy. Meanwhile, I think we are on the road to perdition.

16 thoughts on “Road to Perdition

  1. Please tell David that when I went to my first AA meetings there was a little old lady that was determined to “save” me and she drove me crazy. Now that I am that little old lady I try hard to be pleasant & supportive but not give advice and let them live as the like.

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  2. I thought I had heard Perdition used in a movie and Tom Hanks came to mind. My father-in-law has also been put through the ringer with physical therapy lately. I think he would greatly sympathize with David.

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  3. I had to look up the word ‘perdition’ because I had never heard it before. The road to hell being paved with good intentions – yes I’ve heard that. I wonder if it’s a word used mainly in US because my Anglican / C of E of vicar never uses it.


    • I’ll have to ask Brother Dunstan if he knows the origin of the word perdition. I’ve mostly heard people over here say, “Going to hell” or something like that, meaning, it’s falling apart. “The road to perdition” is an old expression my Dad used, aparently so old wikinictionary has no entry 😱. Someonein Hollywood knew it, hence the title of the film which is about a hitman for the Mob (Tom Hanks) who tries to get off the road to perdition for the sake of his son.

      I meant it more like “going to hell,” which is pretty much what David, who is resentful because he needs female help, told the volunteer.


  4. The right PT person makes all the difference in the world. I’m hoping for the best myself, heaven, dogs, cats, and both my grandmothers. Don’t believe in the other place, unless maybe this is it.


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