I’m currently reading a mesmerizing first novel by Edward P. Jones, The Known World.
I’m nearing the mid-section of the book, and am at a passage where a “patroller” named Skiffington, one of those semi-official enforcers who tracked down errant slaves and returned them to their masters, is returning from a mission. Tired, he sits down to rest under a peach tree. To refresh his mind, he takes out his Bible. Flipping through the pages he comes across a story in Genesis: the story of Lot and how two angels disguised as strangers came to visit him.
“The men in the town came to the house, wanting Lot to send out the strangers so that they could use them as they would use women. Lot sought to protect the strangers and offered the men his virgin daughters instead. It was one of the more disturbing passages in the Bible for Skiffington and he was tempted to pass on, to find his way to Psalms and Revelation or to Matthew, but he knew that Lot and the daughters and the angels posing as strangers were all part of God’s plan. The next morning, the angels laid waste to the town. Skiffington looked up and followed a male cardinal as it flew from left to right and settled in one of the peach trees, a red spot on shimmering green. The female, dull brown, followed, alighting on a branch just above the male’s head. Skiffington’s daughter had always felt such pity for Lot’s wife and what happened to her
(in case you forget, dear blog reader, she was turned into a pillar of salt);
but Skiffington had no strong opinion either way about what happened to her.”