In this series, we looked at how we play status games (Part 1) and the communal nature of these games (Part 2). So now we explore this question in more detail: “How do status games practically affect our lives?” In The status game, Will Storr offers a range of answers. This article will only highlight a few of them.
For anything we want in life that involves other people, be it money, advancement, friendship, etc., status is a factor in achieving that goal or this desire. This is true for Christian believers and non-believers alike. No one can ignore the conventional social customs that signal their place in the group and the values that the community espouses.
No wonder people think (says Storr) that status is “the golden key that unlocks our dreams” (3).
The statute is an integral part. It shouldn’t be an idol.
Notice an imperfect leap in human thought – we confuse what can contribute to human flourishing (status somehow) with what is essential. Status is essential, just as food is fundamental. Yet neither status nor food is the reason for living.
Storr explains that status cannot be perfected. “Furthermore, unlike status, the desire for power is stifling” (26). The researchers suggest that
one of the reasons the desire for status is “never truly satisfied” is that “it can never truly be possessed by the individual once and for all. Since it is esteem given by others, it can always, at least in theory, be taken away. So we always want more. And more and more and more and more. (89)
Because connection and status are crucial to thriving as social beings, our “status detection system never turns off”. The game never ends” (29).
From there, someone will be tempted to conclude (wrongly) that seeking status is bad. If you think so, you do not understand the nature of status; you’re probably just thinking of a single, distorted, idolatrous view of status that becomes lust. Storr (and I) talk about “status” more descriptively as something that simply is. Keep in mind that Jesus changes our status – making us God’s adopted children!
That said, fallen sinners perpetually misunderstand and abuse status games. Therefore, Storr’s book (which is not written from a Christian perspective) is valuable because it exposes and clarifies the rules of the game that we have all played, even when we don’t realize it. By understanding the status game, one can wisely apply the teaching of the Bible.
Status is addictive
Sεx is essential to human existence, but it can also be addictive. So when I say status is addictive, again, I don’t consider it inherently “sinful.” However, it is worth explaining How? ‘Or’ What it becomes addictive to avoid falling into potential pitfalls.
Ask someone who has achieved notoriety or notoriety in society or even within a community. This person ends up getting used to his status and the benefits that come with it. It becomes so normal that we start to consider status as a right. So these people (including us at different times in life) become more sensitive to threats to their status and/or start looking for other ways to get rid of this craving for attention.
Storr explains, “Statius’ drunkenness is extraordinary and ordinary, and a testament to how gambling can intoxicate human cognition” (90). In addition, “No matter who we are or how high we climb on the scoreboard, life is a game that never ends(95).
As part 2 pointed out, we don’t just compare ourselves individually with other individuals; we also compare our status games (played within our community) with status games played by other groups. This observation cannot be overstated.
Our status games are rooted in our perception. We experience reality through them. So when we come across someone playing a rival game, it can be disturbing. If they live by a conflicting set of rules and symbols, they imply that our rules and symbols – our criteria for claiming status – are invalid and our dream of reality is false… They simply insult us by being who they are. (158)
His “War Games” chapter (ch. 18) is pure gold. The quote above only scratches the surface of what could be said. He quotes an African proverb that memorably sums up one of his key ideas:
“the child who is not embraced by the village will burn it to feel its warmth.” (67)
In his previous book, Heretics, Storr links status and our sense of identity to the tendency to hold irrational beliefs. It sums,
We are especially vulnerable to irrationality when the “facts” in question serve to reinforce or threaten the heroic story we tell of ourselves. (5-6)
By now I suppose the relevance of Storr’s discussion is obvious to you.
Towards a conclusion
I will end this series in the next article. While readers might think that status is totally wrong and that Christians can live regardless of status, they are deluding themselves. You can’t stop playing status games any more than you can walk around without skin or muscles.
The problem with the status game centers on the basis forthe sphere ofand To research our status. When these are redirected, we can play status games in a more constructive and healthy way. I will feature this conversation in the next post.