I rarely promote other blogs as must reads. I have quite a few—GetReligion, the Bintel Blog, FaithWorld—and a little over a week ago, I found another. Stuff Christians Like, which was started in March and backdated to January, is a riff on the outrageously popular Stuff White People Like, which had its own spin-off called Stuff God Hates. It has quickly developed quite a following, and, in fact, the Dallas Morning News agreed with me and this week named the blog its Web site of the week. (Coincidentally, I turned in last night my first book review for the Morning News’ religion section, a short bit about “Rapture Ready!”)
To begin with, the blog’s author, Prodigal Jon, is ridiculously prolific. One of today’s installments, “Feeling unqualified for ‘that thing,’” is No. 364—in six months. The post’s often are long and insightful, and Jon has a knack for noting the machinations of Christian life that often go unnoticed.
The beer test, occasional swearing—been there, done that. And even though God doesn’t like religious tattoos, Jon is correct in stating that many Christians do—ugh. The post that caught my eye last week discussed a Christianism I haven’t been guilty of in a while, probably since entering college, but certainly was as a teenager: “Warning friends that your new friend is a non-Christian.”
That’s a weird phenomenon, the Christian disclaimer, and I should probably spend some time thinking about what it means about my faith. But right now, I’m curious why we say something like that about people that aren’t Christians. I have three guesses:
1. Non Christians are loose cannons.
Sometimes people disclaim the arrival of a non Christian just in case they do something wild, like swear. But by disclaiming them it automatically creates a weird tension of us vs. them in the context of a dinner party. And honestly, have you ever not disclaimed someone and then had to go back later and say, “I’m so sorry about my friend Hucklebuck. Honestly, I had no idea he was just going to start punching people in the face. And I didn’t even know he carried a gun. I’ll help you pick out a new cat tomorrow. I should have warned you he’s a non-Christian.”
2. Our Christian friends might say something crazy.
Maybe we’re afraid that our Christian friends are going to say something really crazy in front of the girl from work that’s a non-Christian. You’ll all be eating dinner and then one of your friends will say, “Can you please pass the salt and did I tell you about the angel that spoke to me last night and helped me find a parking space at the mall today? My savior has a first name, it’s J-E-S-U-S!!” But chances are, if they’re real friends that you trust and care about, they won’t do something like this.
3. It’s witness time.
It could be that we think when our friends find out there’s a non-Christian in the room they’ll go into “witness mode.” Suddenly instead of acting normal and how they would every other moment of the day, they’ll start using all their fancy seminary words. They’ll start asking awkwardly intimate questions like “are you happy on the inside?” They’ll spend the whole night stuffing tracts into your non-Christian friend’s purse like squirrels before winter. Extreme examples? Perhaps, but I promise you it happens.