December 30, 1974

My sisters and I, Christmas '74
My sisters and I, Christmas ’74

What’s the right thing to do about desperate strangers stranded in phone booths?

The story of Lot in Genesis offers an extreme example of hospitality. Lot sees two strangers in cloaks and insists they dine and sleep in his home. Later that night, his house is surrounded by a drunken mob of Sodomites demanding that Lot produce the two cloaked strangers. Ever the perfect host, Lot refuses. Instead, he offers the mob his virginal daughters, to do with as they wish. (I’m not kidding.  I wish I were.)

Lot flees Sodom

Luckily for Lot’s daughters, the strangers turn out to be angels who protect Lot from the mob and warn him to get the heck out of Sodom. Lot dillydallies but obliges. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, his wife ignores the angel’s order not to look back and is turned into a pillar of salt.  Things get a little worse from here. Since Lot and his girls are the only three people alive on Earth, the daughters decide to get Lot – their father – drunk and seduce him, to propagate the species. Let’s move on, shall we?

Striking a lonely, alienated pose
Striking a lonely, alienated pose

It’s impossible for me to imagine anyone in the 21stcentury as welcoming to strangers  as Lot – the protagonist (I can’t use the word hero) in an Old Testament story. That said, the words of Jesus in the New Testament are clear.

Matthew 25-25-36

I don’t see too many 21stcentury people following that example either.

Me, for real, Christmas
Me, for real, Christmas

Footnote: This story and other controversial or “forbidden” Bible stories – the ones they didn’t teach in Sunday School – are discussed in The Harlot by the Side of the Road by Jonathan Kirsch.

The Harlot By The Side Of The Road