In preparation for writing Uncomfortable I wanted to get a sense for what proves most uncomfortable about Christianity in real churches today. I emailed a number of pastors from around the world and asked them about what aspects of Christianity or church life proved to be especially uncomfortable, challenging or offensive in their particular congregations and contexts. Here are 10 of the responses I received.
The following 21 challenges are in no particular order and are by no means exhaustive, and they are largely (but not exclusively) reflective of an American evangelical context. I also should note that each of them represents not only a challenge but also an opportunity. The church has historically thrived when she is tested rather than comfortable.
The "Stuff White People Like" blog simply consists of an ongoing list of things that white folks like (or, more specifically, things yuppie/hipster white folks under 40 like). Some inclusions on the list: Difficult breakups (#70), Asian fusion food (#45), Knowing what's best for poor people (#62), Arrested Development (#38), Japan (#58), "Gifted" Children (#16), The Sunday New York Times (#46), Wrigley Field (#30), Writer's Workshops (#21), and Farmers Markets (#5).
It's a hilarious blog, with aggressively ironic writing (after all, "irony" is #50 on the list!) and humorous pictures throughout. The whole endeavor is blindingly white in nature (i.e. spending so much time ironically skewering whiteness in a non-standupcomedy sort of way).
If you look over the list on the blog, one of the major recurring themes is the idea that above all, white people like being the best or superior (but not in a self-deprecating sort of way) at whatever they do or whatever situation they are in. They're constantly trying to one-up one another and prove themselves better than the next white guy. It's funny and ironic, then, that "Stuff White People Like" screams of this sort of "look how smart and witty and self-deprecating we are" attitude. But then maybe the people behind the blog are trying to make some meta critique of the whole process of reflexive self-stereotyping (wouldn't that be white of them!). In any case, the sort of half-hearted deconstruction with which I'm concluding this post is certainly stereotypically white. We love taking things--even (perhaps especially) amusing and entertaining things--apart and analyzing them. There's no fun in that. But then again, white people are very prone to becoming wet blankets.