Friday, November 20, 2015

And the door was shut

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Mt 25:1-13).

The logistics are somewhat obscure, but the basic idea is that the torchlight procession escorts the bride and groom from her home to his home–where the wedding ceremony takes place. His home represents "heaven." The door between heaven and hell. The foolish bridesmaids are shut out. 

This parable has two dichotomies: light and darkness; inside and outside. Suppose we were to update it a bit. Suppose Jesus was addressing a modern audience, using a modern equivalent. 

Shopping malls often resemble city blocks, where walkways are streets, with stores on either side. The walkways are walled in by the stores. The main difference is this is covered space. You have a roof over the the walkways. A shopping mall is a a village under a common roof. A shopping mall inverts the spatial relationships: outside becomes inside and inside becomes outside. Interior doors become exterior doors, leading to the outside world. 

Depending on the design, there may only be two sources of illumination. The main source is artificial lighting, provided by lights in the ceiling as well as store windows facing the walkways. An ancillary source is natural lighting from the  mall entrance or exit. The entrance to the mall is often at right angles to the central aisle. In case of a power outage, the only source of light might be from exits that lie around the corner, if they have glass doors or open doors.

Suppose some girls go shopping. Because the weather forecast predicts a thunderstorm, they take the precaution of bringing flashlights in case the mall goes dark when they are inside. As a matter of fact, there's a power outage, plunging the mall into darkness, but thanks to the flashlights, they find their way to the exit. Indeed, once they round the corner, they no longer need their flashlights, because they can see the outside through the open door. A patch of light against the surrounding darkness.

Suppose some other girls go shopping. But they don't take the same precautions. When lightning knocks out power, the interior instantly becomes pitch black. They grope in the darkness, looking for the exit by feeling their way along the walls on either side of the aisle. Two or three go in the wrong direction. 

By chance, another two or three go in the right direction. They round the corner and see the open door. They breathe a sigh of relief and leisurely walk towards the exit. But then the door begins to close. In panic, they run screaming towards the door, as the pool of light narrows to a sliver. But it closes before they get there. Now they can't even see where the door is. They are sealed in–forever! Eternal midnight. Trapped inside the darkened mall for all eternity. 

Admittedly, that seems like a harsh penalty for ditzy shoppers, but that confuses the allegory with what it illustrates. 

No comments:

Post a Comment