One of the interesting things Mark did during Streaming was to sprinkle clips of the movie Lars and the Real Girl throughout the conference. It was amazing how effective this was.
If you've not seen the movie, a synopsis with not too many spoilers, just setting up the premise of the movie:
The protagonist of the movie is Lars Lindstrom. As the movie starts Lars is living in the garage of the family home which is occupied by Gus, Lars's older brother, and Gus's pregnant wife Karin.
As we observe Lars interact with Gus and Karin, his co-workers and church we quickly discover that Lars is emotionally closed and fearful of human connection. Lars even flinches from physical touch. As the movie goes on we find out that Lars's social and emotional withdrawal is due to fact that Lars's mother died giving birth to him and his being raised alone (Gus took off) by a distant and broken father.
One day at work a co-worker of Lars tells him about anatomically correct and life-size sex dolls. Lars doesn't seem interested, but later, and unbeknownst to this brother and sister-in-law, Lars orders a doll, dresses her up and introduces her to them as Bianca. Though Bianca is a sex doll Lars's relationship with her is very chaste, though clearly delusional. Lars talks to and treats Bianca as if she were a real person and expects Gus and Karin to do so as well. Not wanting to hurt Lars's feelings (or make matters worse) Gus and Karin go along and start to interact with Bianca as if she were a real person.
Eventually, the whole town is introduced to Bianca and for the sake of Lars they also begin to interact with Bianca as if she were a real person. It's all very funny. My favorite scene is a gathering of the church leaders who are asked by Gus and Karin to allow Lars to bring Bianca to church. You can view this scene here on YouTube.
Now what does all this have to do with hospitality and welcoming others?
Bianca is an externalization of Lars's brokenness, his fears of loss and intimacy. So in welcoming Bianca the people around Lars are welcoming Lars's brokenness, embracing it. And as we see the community welcoming Bianca--Lars's brokenness--Lars is slowly pulled back into the life of the community.
More, those welcoming Bianca are also changed. In welcoming Bianca the community and the church are pulled out of themselves and into deeper intimacy. By making sacrifices for Lars, by welcoming and accommodating Bianca, everyone's hearts are softened and changed.
It's a wonderful movie, rich in Christian imagery.
And here's why I'm writing about this and why I think Mark picked this film for Streaming. We all have a Bianca. There is some part of us that is broken or afraid. But unlike Lars we tend to keep our Bianca hidden and secret (sort of like how real sex dolls are kept secret and "in the closet"--the imagery is apt). We don't have the courage of a Lars to bring our Bianca out and introduce her to others. It's too scary a prospect.
But Lars and the Real Girl suggests that the only way we can create true and authentic community is if we are willing to welcome Bianca. Yours and mine.
In welcoming Bianca we are being hospitable to the brokenness of others. That is what Jesus was doing as he ate with tax-collectors and sinners. He was welcoming Bianca.
And the church? The church is sitting with Gus and Karin in the basement wondering what it should do. Should the church welcome Bianca? Isn't that going to get a little weird and messy? It is. Bianca is a bit out of place in the church scenes. But the decision of the church is made when the pastor asks the critical question.
What would Jesus do?