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.