Tuesday, March 18, 2008

across eras

I was driving out of town tonight after meeting some friends for coffee, and briefly along Manchester St which is the street every city has that is notorious for prostitutes. It's a Tuesday night but I saw a few women standing on corners, felt very grim, and said a prayer for them.

It made me think a bit. The other day I met one of the masters students in the history department, and of course, as we postgrad students do (note that oh-so-subtle pride), we asked each other what we were doing our research on. Bladebladeblah, said I. Male prostitution, said she. Apparently since the rise of feminism, prostitutes have been emancipated, while male prostitutes are still stigmatized. I realise that this could be an interesting and valuable contribution to human knowledge, but really! Emancipated?!

What is wrong with our world? Women are out there standing on a street corner in short skirts waiting for dodgy old men to drive past, pick them up, and purchase them. Probably the victims of about half the murders in our town are prostitutes. Oh yes, feminism is the salvation of those women. They can really respect themselves now. Why not call them public servants?

They call it the oldest profession, and this confirms two things I have decided:
1) There's no such thing as the "good old days". Things change, yes, but underneath whatever particular veneer society chooses to wear on the surface, underneath is the gutter. Things have always been like this and humans have always had a tendency to scumminess. We have not degenerated, we have only become more open about our general scumminess.
2) There's no such thing as historical progress either. The world has always been backward and stunted and no matter how many theories or technology or miracle cures we invent, utopia on our own steam is a fuzzy dream that can never become a reality. On a personal level we may learn from our mistakes, but on an all-humanity kind of level we just keep on keeping on. Screwing up. Exploiting, objectifying, and taking advantage of the dire need of another human being to gain a fleeting selfish pleasure.

A Salvation Army worker my mum once spoke to said a prostitute she had made friends with finally agreed to come to church with her one day. She took her to an inner-city "liberal" church where she thought the woman would feel more comfortable. Sitting in the pews with his wife and kids was one of the prostitute's regular customers.

The world doesn't change, people don't change, there is a blackness at the core of humanity that doesn't go away. It's pervasive, it's frightening, it's across all eras and across all the world. I can see it in myself, and I saw it there from a very young age. The world doesn't corrupt us, we corrupt the world.

A negative picture? Yes. But the sooner we realise this, the better. Screw this politically correct crap that there can be such a thing as an emancipated prostitute. Prostitution has nothing but darkness and imprisonment at its heart. It's a reflection of our world, our dark, evil world.

And yet, somehow, God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:16-21)

What a God we have. What a love. He is the only hope we have. What is below is the only real emancipation we can ever experience.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
(Isaiah 61:1-3)


Sarakastic said...

This is why you rock, I would've been sad about how humanity sucks & never would've gotten to the last part

Trish Ryan said...

Sort of blows your mind, doesn't it? I'm not always sure what to do with these sorts of discrepancies between what I see and what my faith says is true.

The other night at the gym, I was listening to Israel Houghton sing "Everywhere I look God's love is all around" on my iPod while the TV news told of deaths in Iraq, a gruesome murder that had taken place in NY, and an interview with a married woman who advertises on the internet for new (wealthy) sex partners. I had to get off the treadmill because I found it hard to breath.

Still though, the Bible says to hope. So I do.

LEstes65 said...

I thank God that he has given me hope in such a scummy world. And I must say I've added my layers of scum through the years. I'm just glad God's cleaners can cut through all my scum and everyone else's.

I really loved how you wrapped things up in this post. And I had to laugh at the thought of emancipated prostitutes. It's probably as laughable as how cool and in control I thought I was at the height of my depravity.

And I agree with Sarakastic. This (and many other reasons) is why you rock.