For school, I’m reading about the “repentant prostitute” legends from late antiquity — over-the-top stories of flamboyant sin and excruciating repentance. They seem to have all the shortcomings that christian fiction genres usually have. [On request, the author of this blog will provide rants about “Left Behind”, “Quo Vadis”, fifties bible movies, and “christian historical fiction” in general.] They attempt to walk the odd line between entertainment and preaching, often wobbling into voyeuristic sensationalism or iron-fisted moralizing. I guess people are people, because this stuff sells (or is retold by word of mouth, or get recopied in manuscripts).
There is a line that is quite moving though. The repentant prostitute says to God, “You made me, so you must save me.”
The state of the world is weighing heavy recently. And in the middle of all this mess, tribal killing, sectarian violence, urban ghettos, broken promises, sexual abuse, and fatherless homes—children, bright-eyed children, keep coming into this world. Sometimes I wonder why God sends them here, to be mutilated and marred. I know apologists for God, can explain that He didn’t make the evil in the world. OK, but He made the people. Each and every one of them, an act of the Holy Spirit, directly indwelling in that particular womb in that particular moment. He breathed his breath into each of us. If he hadn’t, then our killings and rapings and maulings would be no worse than the animals. But we are not–we are demigods, and that makes it so much more awful. “Oh human race, born to fly upwards, why at so little wind do you fall?” said somebody hundreds of years ago. The worst thing about corrupted people is seeing what-they-could-have-been. We are always on the verge of breath-taking beauty, but…screw it all up instead.
Yes, we break our promises, yes we don’t pull through, yes we maim eachother and betray. But God, you made us. You made us, God, so you must save us.
Isaiah 64 (around 700-500 B.C.)
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
(as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil)—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?