I like a good bit of gritty escapism as much as the next person. Yet, as I watch the fictional star of TV series Homeland neurotically stumble across my screen once more, I find myself rather uncomfortable.
Carrie reminds me of no one person in particular; the most uncomfortable thing about watching her life unfold is that she reminds me, in part, of every person I know.
The high-level CIA operative battles bi-polar, post-traumatic stress and drug dependencies. She’s terrified by the prospect of parental responsibility. She’s strung out by pressures at work, the boss from hell and a holier-than-thou sister. She’s traumatised by violence, death and her own personal guilt. Mathison is every author’s dream; the ultimate escapist treat for treasured viewers. A pastiche of real-life problems bound up in one long, erratic, addicted, amoral backstory.
In the Bible’s terms, she would be the ultimate ‘sinner’ in need of a saviour.
As a Christian, I look in on this woman’s life with grim interest. It might be a fanciful exercise but I wonder: could Jesus save even Carrie Mathison? If I could work out how to make the message of the Bible sound like good news to her, my hope is that I could do it more fruitfully for the people I observe, pray for and love on a weekly basis.
Thankfully the Bible does show us Jesus encountering many characters like Carrie. In John 8 he refuses to condemn the woman caught in adultery, instead simply bidding her to “go and sin no more”. On another occasion, Jesus speaks profoundly to the despised woman at the well. Divinely ascertaining her deepest heart’s desire for love and acceptance, he explains this couldn’t be found in any of the four failed marriages or her current unwed relationship. Jesus points to himself as the source of life where this woman, Carrie, and the rest of us can find true satisfaction, forgiveness and healing.
However, perhaps the most striking example of someone without hope being changed by encountering Jesus is found in Luke. Jesus crashes a funeral procession and raises the dead man back to life. Being filled with compassion for his grieving relatives, Jesus is willing to be defiled by touching the dead man’s body. He then speaks life into it. By these actions: compassion, a willingness to get involved and words that speak truth, every Christian has been wittingly given the tools to come alongside even the most hopeless case.
The character of Carrie Mathison is the proverbial ‘dead-woman walking’ – badly in need of someone to halt her funeral. As a summation of mankind’s uncomfortably familiar story lines… May she provoke hope in each of us; no-one is beyond the love of Jesus.