Back in 1910, D.W. Griffith made a film called The Converts about a real jerk. The jerk, played by the great silent actor Henry B. Walthall, is among his gang of creeps and decides to pull a prank. He dresses up as a minister and goes in front of the local brothel and starts t preach, not to save souls but to make everyone feel bad.
His plan works like a charm and his jerk friends think he was hilarious. They carry him off to get drunk. The point seems to be that in a loveless, foul world, the scum floats to the top. Don’t even bother to hope.
But it’s not over. One of the hookers wasn’t in on the joke. She puts down her whiskey, walks out on her john, and goes on to a plainer, but better, life, as a home maker.
The point is that genuine grace can come from a corrupt source. It’s a point that has been debated in Christianity since the beginning and showed up in The Simpson’s episode “Lisa the Iconoclast.”
It’s interesting that Griffith’s film was anti-ironic. Today a director would shoot for what passed for irony and play it all as a joke. The Converts is completely sincere which makes it somewhat corny but much more substancial.