I feel all special and stuff

So there’s this blog called “Stuff Christians Like.”  It’s very insightful and funny stuff.

A year ago, I caused this little race riot on Stuff Christians like.  That’s kind of a long story.

But then a few months ago he had this little contest, and I won a book by being silly in my response to a question.  And then today, the writer drew out one of my comments in the main blog post and linked over here to Jeff’s deep thoughts.

And he’s got like 8 million readers.  And I’ve got almost exactly that number.  Except for the “million” part.

So  click  here and check his blog out.  It’s just me and him, two hot shot bloggers, scratching each other’s backs.

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Super heroes, pastors, and identity

O.K.  So, my big mouth stirred up some stuff.  What else is new?

I wanted to kind-of explain myself here.  This all started on another blog, but I’m posting my reaction here because it started getting a little silly and self-centered for me to continue to use his blog.    My point had nothing to do with the main point of the post, and it was becoming kind of arrogant to hijack the comment section of that blog.

The blog in question was the excellent “Stuff Christians Like”.  SCL is one of my favorite reads.  The author is very funny and insightful.  The mere existence of the blog is exciting work for God’s kingdom, in my opinion, and the author seems like a kind, humble guy. 

As a result of my comment, the author put in a post-script and a variety of people had things to say about my comment.

So the post in question was one comparing famous pastors to famous super heroes.  Rob Bell is Green Arrow, Andy Stanley is Batman, etc.   It was funny, insightful, and culturally relevant.

One of the entries was about T.D. Jakes.  T.D. Jakes is cast as the Incredible Hulk.   Early on, the entry said, rhetorically “OK, which African American superhero would you have picked?” Presumably, the reason for asking this question is to demonstrate the idea that an African-American pastor ought to be represented by an African-American superhero.

I responded to that rhetorical question.  Probably in a way that I should not have.  Some of my reaction was a result of just where I’ve been going in my head.  I wanted to take a moment and explain that.

I’m not sure that this is the best question to ask.  I think it’s perfectally fine to cast T.J. Jakes as the Hulk.  It’s kind-of funny and appropriate.  But I stand by the idea that there is a sub-text to that question.  I don’t think it really matters that the post was light and silly.  I think it’s interesting, what this question reveals about our assumptions.

I would have been much wiser to express this as an observation about the ways we talk and how discourse usually goes.  I think it must have looked like I was attacking the author and for this I’m sorry. 

The whole point of comparisons are that they help us notice things that are important between the things being compared.   The author explained why Andy Standley is like Batman, for example.  He focused on things that seemed important.

Even if somebody new both the eye color of a pastor and the eye color of a superhero, (which, I suppose, would be creepy) nobody would bother to say “It would be ideal if I could find a green-eyed super hero to compare this green-eyed pastor to, but I have to settle for this blue-eyed super hero.”

We’d recognize that eye-color is an irrelevant component of identity.

The question asked implies that race/ethnicity is an essential part of our identity.  It implies that the ideal would be to find a European-descended superhero for the European pastors, find a Latino super hero for Latino pastors, and find an Asian super hero to be the paralell of the Asian pastors.

I wonder how many times I’m going to learn this truth before I actually do something with it: context is everything.  Written communication not only robs us of tone, facial expression, etc, but when I randomly post in a place people don’t know me, they don’t have any history.  Even on this blog, the people who have gotten the most fired up at stuff I had to say are people who don’t know my heart. 

I don’t have any issue with that.  We can’t short-cut experiences.  But I need to work hard at remembering that their is a difference between kicking an issue around in my small group and throwing at a hot-button topic like prejudice in a blog where the people don’t know me. 

So, I guess that I’ll invite comments, thoughts, and reactions over here.  It seems self-serving to explicitly invite people over here from SCL, on that site, but I’ll work on the assumption that atleast some people will find their way here.

(Through a mishap my original comment on that site was listed by “anonymous”.   I just submitted a follow up comment with my name and stuff.   The author has always “o.k.’d” my comments before on his blog, so it might be that people will easily be able to connect me to the comment.)

 

Stuff White Christians like

It seems like all the cool blogging kids are talking about “Stuff White People Like” and its parody, “Stuff Christians Like.”  As uncharaceteristic as it is for me to do this, I have to agree with the going opinion: both these blogs are very funny, very clever pieces of work.

As I was considering these blogs, two things occured to me.  These are profound realizations that came to me in the way of dream-like epiphanies.

Realization #1: I’m a white person!

Realization #2: I’m a Christian!

Because I’m a geeky teacher, one of those Venn Diagram things popped in my head.  If you’ve gone to school in the last 20 years, you probably remember Venn Diagrams.  The theory is that you create two slightly overlapping circles.  Each circle represents a specific idea.  Things that are true of both ideas you put in the middle, overlapping portions of the circle.  Things that are only true of one or the other you put in the outer portion of the circle.  (The reality, just for the record, is that they end up all sloppy and messed up)

At any rate, realization #1 and realization #2 above lead me to the conclusion that I could in fact put myself in that central place in the Venn Diagram formed by those two blogs.  There are people in the world who are kind-of lucky.  These are white people who aren’t Christians, or Christians who aren’t white people.  The reason that these people are only kind-of lucky is that they only have one blog telling them what they are supposed to like.

I’m extra lucky.  I get two. 

My initial reaction was to find this prospect daunting.  Each of those blogs lists literally hundreds of things.  I have a tendency to be rather cynical.  I’m actually not sure if there are hundreds of things that I do like.

But then it occured to me: maybe if something appears on only one website it’s optional.  But if something were too appear on both, why then, it’s unaimous, I have to like it!!!  My fellow inhabitants of the center, fish-shaped portion of the Venn Diagram, these are the things I’m supposed to like!

This realization brings about relief on 2 seperate fronts.  First, I’m relieved that I’d don’t have to like 8,000 things.  Secondly, I’m saved from actually having to do the work of figuring out what I like as a white guy and a Christian.  Somebody else has done the work for me!

With these realizations in mind, I set a supercomputer to the task of exhaustive data analysis.  Actually, that’s a total lie.  All I really did was scroll through both blogs and try to keep as many as I could in my brain. 

The results I turned up:

uhm, none, actually. 

Maybe some of you can help me.  Is there anything I’m supposed to like, as somebody who is both white and Christian?  In the end, I guess those blogs weren’t that helpful as objects for me to arrange my life around. 

But they are quite funny.  And I suppose all this explains why there’s not so many things I like.