“Donald Sterling Should Be an Insulation Salesman” or “Cultic Christianity is Deadly Due to Insulation”

Donald Sterling is a one-man study in insulation.fiberglass-insulation

He should be an insulation salesman; he’s his own best example.

In his interview last night with Anderson Cooper, which I only was able to see part of (but a telling part), he convincingly argues for his own ineptitude without meaning to.

To him, he’s not hated by players.  To him, he’s not hated by fans.  And while he knows that he has done wrong and has “hurt many people,” he then proceeds to prove that he does not, in fact, know this in any way that might lead to behavior change because he starts berating Magic Johnson, the black community, and basic sensibility all in one fell swoop (see link above for the spectacularly terrible soundbite).

This shows me that either he is a) going slightly mad (not out of the realm of possibility) or b) absolutely insulated from the general public.

My hunch is “b”.

There are many insulators.  I think money is probably one of his greatest insulators.  With the ability to be taken everywhere by hired car, what need do you have to interact with anyone who you don’t hire or choose to spend time with?  When you can buy anything you want, including sexual partners, why bother with real relationships (like, say, the legal wife you have)?

One of the greatest things someone who wants to live an uninsulated life can do is take public transportation.  It is grounding.  In a good way.  In a way that makes me want to raise my kids in the city and have them do it.

Another one of his insulators he has is that he’s white.  It absolutely insulates him from a whole variety of perspectives and, wrongly, gives him the appearance that he’s one of many voices.  He is in fact a privileged voice among other voices.  This is the same mistake that poor college kid made when Time magazine picked up his article.  If you haven’t run across that news tidbit yet, please check it out.  It’s a perfect example of what self-righteousness will do to the young mind if given a platform. I suspect he’ll repent of that article in five years, if his education is worth anything and he lives vulnerably enough to see how asinine he is…

To be fair to that guy, no one should have any of their Freshman papers/thoughts published.  Ever.  His thoughts aren’t fully developed (I hope).

But back to Sterling.

Sterling suffers from insulation in a way that I see cultic Christianity suffering from insulation, too.  For an example, check out your local cinema. This abhorrent move God is Not Dead is just one example of the insulation problem that much of the church has.  A philosophy professor that throws down an ultimatum to stifle thought?  A Muslim girl who gets beat up by her father for conversion?  A last-ditch confession of said professor when it comes out that he doesn’t believe in God because of personal tragedy?

It’s the same reason that I stopped believing in Santa Claus: you don’t get that G.I. Joe action figure enough Christmases in a row, and you kind of get wise…

Except that those are all straw men.  They aren’t real people.  They’re fake elaborations on attributes that might be part of the make-up of a person.  But they’re not real.  It’s the same problem I have with Christopher Hitchens’ writings.  He writes of straw men.  Insulated Christianity and insulated atheism are two sides of the same coin.

But the delusion of these things being real can continue if a person is in isolation.  That’s what I worry about. Kind of like the delusion that Sterling has of himself.  Kind of like the delusion of homosexuality being a “choice.”  Much like I choose my heterosexuality, I guess…

All of these ideas can persist in a world where you don’t actually interact with anyone outside of your insulation zone.  Sterling’s problem isn’t one of bad publicity, it’s one of insulated publicity.  And it’s a cycle that perpetuates itself.  He never sees himself clearly because he doesn’t really have anyone of worth to reflect him back on himself, and because he can’t see himself clearly he becomes more and more the monster that he is.

Cultic Christianity is the same way.  Except with Christianity it has to do with interacting with others outside of the “Christian worldview” (whatever that means).  And it’s deadly because of this.  Deadly in that it creates a spirituality that is dead to it’s own self-righteousness.

And it’s a problem.  Not just because it results in crappy movies…that has been going on for years (looking at you Kirk Cameron).  It’s mostly a problem because it prevents the abundant life, the limitless life, that Christ talks about.  It’s dead life.

It’s why I encourage people to have friends across faith lines, cultural lines, all sorts of lines.  And not in an effort to convert them; that’s disingenuous.

Can’t you just experience the other where they are and *gasp* learn from that?

Part of the problem with insulation is that it gives the appearance of certitude.  Sterling is willing to admit he made a mistake, but he can’t see that he’s messed up.  He’s messed up as a human being, as part of a larger system of affluence and influence.

Christianity is messed up.  It’s made mistakes, but it really has to come out and say “We’re messed up.”  And not in the superficial way we say, “We’re a broken vessel just like everything in this world.”  But in a legitimate way that allows it to let go of the influence grip it has over people’s hearts and minds to open hearts to the greater world and greater life that God invites us to experience as Christ-followers.

Christ is our feed box, not our fence.

I am unapologetically Christian (reluctantly).

As part of that identity, though, I feel compelled to meet others where they are.  I feel compelled to tear down the insulation around me (and have it torn down), as best I can, and move out of my comfort zone into the dangerous place outside the walls of security and meet the other.

The church, at her best, can help people do this.  If only she’ll be vulnerable enough to admit she’s part of the system…


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