So I guess the story is that a former Yankee player, Robinson Cano, was traded to the Seattle Mariners during the off season for a large 10-year contract (I think it was somewhere around $240 million over the ten years). This was going to be his first game as a Mariner playing in Yankee stadium (where he used to play). The anticipation was that he was going to be boo-ed by the crowd. Probably so 🙂
Anyway, Jimmy Fallon, host of the Tonight Show on NBC, had Robinson Cano on as a guest. While he was in New York, Fallon asked Cano if he would do a stunt for the show. The stunt was for Cano to stand behind a huge cardboard picture of himself while Yankee fans were goaded into boo-ing the image of Cano. After a couple of boos (some strong, some weak), Cano would step out from behind the cutout and surprise those boo-ing him.
It is hilarious watching the reactions!
What struck me was the radical change from loathing to kindness. It seems like it is fairly easy to criticize an image of someone, but a whole different story when that image is the actual person. My wife, Amanda, who was watching with me said,
“Isn’t it remarkable how badly we can treat someone when we dehumanize them. But when we see them in person, it humanizes them, and our reaction is remarkably different?”
This makes me think about the Christian faith and how easy it is for Christians (I know, because I am guilt of it as well) to criticize the image of someone or the concept of something because it is dehumanized. However, once it is humanized, once we know someone and are talking to them face-to-face, our tune changes. And it should! We change to a posture of kindness and love, instead of loathing and hate.
Next year in High School Youth group at Hayward Wesleyan, I am planning on tackling and wrestling with some major issues related to Christianity and culture. I want to engage with the creation/evolution discussion, homosexuality, belief in God, suffering, sexualization in culture, and many others. My sense is that while young Christians want to grow in faith, in our post-Christian world they don’t know how. It’s almost as if one needs to leave their intellectual integrity behind in order to be a Christian. What I don’t want is to create a straw man (the world) and as a Christian, lambaste that worldly straw man and try to convince students that culture is wrong and Jesus is right. While worldly culture is indeed wrong and Jesus is indeed right, many don’t arrive at those conclusions with dehumanized arguments. And that is the problem, I think, in either Christian teaching and apologetics right now. We are dehumanizing the world, setting it up as a straw man, and laying into it. Instead (and I know this can be tricky, but Jesus and Paul engaged in a tricky culture), I think we need to humanize the conversations and approach it with kindness and love, rather than loathing and hate (which is all too indicative of Christian culture). It’ll be an interesting experiment as I have never done any kind of teaching like this before.
I think I want to use this hilarious example with the students next year to introduce a framework for kind and humanizing dialogue rather than… the other kind!