December 23, 2011

Embracing Bianca: Christian Hospitality (or lack thereof)

So there’s this movie called Lars and the Real Girl. Have you heard of it? In it, Lars, a socially-awkward young man, imagines and lives out an elaborate relationship with Bianca, a sex doll, purchased on the internet. Lars’ brother and sister-in-law have a difficult time adjusting. Ya no duh! But over time, by attempting to help and understand Lars, his family, co-workers and even church members all come around to accept Lars and his girlfriend and the shenanigans that entails.

Obviously it’s just a movie, but I was struck by the depth of hospitality and care that Lars’ community extended toward—yes, Lars, but more profoundly—Bianca. Eventually Bianca was being taken out to live her own life, presumably. This weirdly-attractive, awkward (to stare at, at least), plastic sex doll was a part of the community, completely accepted, loved and looked after. A doll! How strange right?

After recently visiting some friends at their church’s youth Christmas party and mingling with some of the church’s employees beforehand, I can’t help but wonder if they would greatly benefit from having Bianca around. Besides the pastor and a volunteer youth worker, no one welcomed me. In fact, most seemed unfriendly, disinterested and too busy to care. This is somewhat understandable. Working for a church can be a lot of work, especially when preparing for a big youth event or whatever else!

But hospitality and welcoming the stranger are important, no? If people who work for churches and other Christians like me don’t embrace a fellow Christian, what are the chances we’ll ever embrace a stranger or, better yet, an alien? Maybe Christians just need to practice and if this is the case maybe Bianca could help us.

It seems absurd, right? But really think about it. Would accepting, embracing and loving a doll help Christians accept, embrace and love people? Could welcoming Bianca be Christian practice?

I'm not sure whether or not I am actually advocating practicing Christian hospitality on a doll, but I am convinced humans deserve to be welcomed, embraced and understood, just like Bianca.

November 22, 2011

Knowing Darkness: quotes & a brief reflection

I was curious (and obviously daydreaming), as I study in the library, wondering about whether or not the library had the books of one of my favorite living theologians: David Bentley Hart. I searched his name. Immediately I read the intriguing title: Knowing Darkness and the even more intriguing subtitle: On Skepticism, Melancholy, Friendship, and God written by Addison Hart. After retrieving it, checking it out and delving in, I began referring to it as a God-send, though reluctantly. I don't care for that spiritual language normally. I didn't seem to mind this time since I actually felt that way.

Addison Hart is Parochial Vicar for the Newman Center at Northern Illinois University and has written a m
arvelously pastoral exploration into melancholy which he defines as "thoughtful sadness." I appreciated how he put melancholy in the title since I probably would of never discovered it. My interest in this has been increased lately upon finding out, after taking a personality test in psychology, that I am deeply melancholy. I always viewed this as one of the worse personality types since people with this type seem consistently sad and emotional, which I had been nearly all semester. Because of Hart's work on the subject I am learning to work with and in it, even appreciating it. Here are some quotes from chapter one:

"There is room for both skepticism and deep melancholy, for 'darkness,' in the life of faith. Christians who find these perplexing and troublesome things occupying a place in their minds should not be ashamed of them" (5).

"It [melancholy] should never be too easily dismissed as utterly invaluable to us, something only to be escaped. It may 'hurt,' but it also may in fact teach us wisdom, and its causes may be real, objective, and impossible to write off. To say it bluntly, there may be real reason why we sometimes feel like hell and want our life to end" (6).

Melancholy should never be shamed or viewed as invaluable. It can be a great teacher, as I am learning, if one is willing. Knowing darkness can even yield beautiful and nourishing fruit. More quotes and reflections to come.

November 19, 2011

this blog?...

I've done a horrible thing. This wonderful blog, where I used to engage my thoughts and friends' intentionally, I have neglected sorrowfully. But, this is not a day for mourning but of celebrating, for I here by declare that I am resurrecting/kickstarting this blog... right now!