In the story Revelation, we meet a nice woman named Mrs. Turpin. She seems like a nice Christian woman who seems no different than a woman you may meet in your very own church. As we enter her mind, though, we see the real side of Mrs. Turpin. The saddest part of the story is this that we as Christians are just like her. I believe that Revelation is a window to the Christian world; Mrs. Turpin provides a mirror image of us, that some Christians may not want to see.
Mrs. Turpin is much like you and me; she doesn’t know that she is wrong until she is given a revelation from God. Lets look at how she represents us as Christians. First of all she worry’s about nothing but herself. From the moment she walks in the door of the doctor’s office she is looking for a seat for herself and criticizing those who don’t give up their seats for her. She also is self-conscious person, which is a form of selfishness and it means that she only cares for herself and how people look at her. You can see this in paragraphs 14 and 15. She almost wants the lady to tell her she isn’t fat. This is a perfect example of how we as Christians can sometime be so concerned with the color of the carpet that we don’t see the hurting soul standing on it. Too often we are over concerned with ourselves and we leave the people who truly need help behind, because they don’t fit in.
As the story progresses you see Mrs. Turpin make her way around the room making assumptions about every single person. It is sad but we do this as well. How many times have you walked in room and sized every single person up. This is exactly what she does from paragraph 19-24. She spends time looking at herself and then looking at them and seeing how much better she is than those other dirty people. When she catches the glimpse of the girl sitting across form her she turns mean. She begins to tear the girl apart and we begin to see her true personality form. We, as the audience, see the real Mrs. Turpin come alive in this moment.
If we think about the transparency that is given to us into Mrs. Turpin, I am reminded of how God sees us daily. Mrs. Turpin is only a character in a story but if she were real and knew that people could see right into her subconscious, she would probably not think the same way. If I may take it to a new level, this simple fact may be a great reminder that we are being watched every moment of our lives.
Linking this to how the bible talks about us as followers of Christ, we must turn to the book of Mark. The book of Mark is written very differently than the other gospels. Many scholars seem to think that it rushes through the sermons and parables in order to tell in more detailed story of the disciples. After first reading through the book of Mark you may walk away thinking differently about Jesus. Mark shows the realities of human nature through the disciples Jesus saw them and probably sees us. His disciples are made out as examples for us. You do not see the disciples in the light that maybe you remember them from the felt board in Sunday school. This is also how we see Mrs. Turpin in the story she seems ok but what we find out is not so ok.
In Revelation we see how Mrs. Turpin becomes different in the end thanks to her revelation. This story could possibly help us understand these issues before God delivers us into a revelation.
The revelation that Mrs. Turpin has is something that I think many of us go through. The “fire” as it is referred to in the church. When we as Christians go through the “fire” we want to instantly turn and yell at God. Similar to what Mrs. Turpin did when she saw that she was not as wonderful as she thought. When we are seen in transparent light and we see the disgusting dirty thing that we have in our hearts we would all yell at God too. She doesn’t believe her eyes when she sees the people she hates most entering heaven first!
What can we learn from this story? Mrs. Turpin is the representation of us, maybe not all of us, but many of us including myself. Too often we sit back and let our minds do what Christ would not want them to. What Flannary O’Connor was trying to say is that though we may be ok with our cushy little church, if you’re walking around town sizing everyone up you are not having the mind of Christ. I also think that she is warning all those that might think they are doing just fine in this situation. We do get content in our mediocrity and just leave things as is. Hopefully from this literature we can find truth that can set us free from the baggage of sin.