Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Acts, three

What is the moral of Jesus healing the lame man and the leper? That God made this man lame, and then God unmade the lameness that he made? The circularity of this touches on pointlessness; for we are tempted to ask—wouldn’t it have been more perfectly efficient simply to make him able to walk in the first place? The obvious retort to this is that God set up this narrative two-step in order to dramatise the working of His grace—that it was, in other words, for our benefit. Implicitly in this reading is a rebuke: that we ought to be able, but somehow aren’t, to see a normally healthy human walking around (or: we ought to be able to look upon unleprous skin) as miraculous testament to God’s grace. Because we can’t do this, God is put to the roundabout rigmarole of making a man broken so that he can be mended. For this reason, the healing must be a rare thing; or we would take it for granted—almost all lepers remain unhealed, almost all lame men stay lame. But this does strike me as a dangerous line of thought to begin to pursue. It suggests that the miraculous is actually just another word for the novel; that Grace can only be seen in the unusual—that Grace is a mode of novelty.

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