Let us begin by making a distinction between white people and people struggling with their superabundance of whiteness. The former is a biological category, and is found in the children’s song about how Jesus loves the little children. This kind of white rhymes with “precious in His sight,” and is just part of the cost of doing business. The latter is a pathological category, and represents some kind of odd institutional hypocrisy, and it is not immediately apparent that anything whatever can be done about it. This latter form is a weird cultural disease of the soul — the very, very white soul.
I recently finished reading Stuff White People Like, a very funny and insightful book. As with all forms at satire, humor with a point, the pointy end either has to hit the target or not. If it does, we learn something about ourselves, and if it does not, then we just shrug our shoulders at the lame attempt at edgy humor. This book hits the target over and over and over again. Ow, ow, ow.
One of my central pastoral responsibilities is that of keeping Christians away from hypocrisy, of the kind described in the New Testament. But this task, not surprisingly, is often misunderstood — and the reason it is misunderstood is that there are always lots of people who don’t want to be kept out of that kind of hypocrisy, and misdirection is that name of the game.
Of course, personal and sinful inconsistencies are hypocritical. If a man cruises around in PornDeluxe.com for most of the week, and shows up for worship Sunday morning, all bright and shiny, that is hypocritical. The same for a man who tyrannizes his wife and family, and is gentle and soft-spoken in the sanctuary. God hates this kind of stuff, and we generally know that God hates it.
But the kind of hypocrisy that the New Testament lampoons is what we might call the Hypocrisy Parade. Jesus nails not only the private sins, but also the very public ones. He mocks those who shop at the Wide Phylactery Warehouse. He skewers those whose robes flow behind them like trails of woven glory. He sends up the Rev. Drs. and rabbis and such, and pops the assembled theologians like they were so many balloons. There is a species of hypocrisy that does not fear exposure, but rather stands on the street corner, palms facing outwards, awaiting the expected applause. And it does not await such applause in vain. People do this because it works.
And this is where the American church is so bone-jarringly . . . white.
So Christian Lander wrote Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. I had heard about it, and seen the web site a few times. But when I picked up a copy in a bookstore recently, and read a few entries, I was thunderstruck by how many of things he was lampooning were things that I saw numerous Christians (who have a responsibility to know better) advancing in the name of “being missional.” Or maybe they were “being prophetic,” I forget.
This may appear to be an abrupt change of subject, but it is not really. I usually wear light brown khaki slacks to work, and I do so in order to keep my knees from distracting the general public. Nancy buys them for me, and they get the job done. Now this is just an example of the truth that everybody has to live somewhere, wear something, eat something else, and so on. No one should fault anybody for being finite, e.g. for being here and not there. For if they went over there, one could always ask why they weren’t back over here. So this should be an example of a non-problem. But suppose I wore brown khakis in the name of missional non-conformity. I am wearing slacks they cut from a piece of cloth the size of Rhode Island, and I am doing it in order to strike a blow for nonconformity? Then what? Well, then it just gets screwy. I am reminded of the Far Side cartoon, where one sheep is standing on its hind legs, haranguing the rest of the flock with “We don’t have to be just sheep!”
As Lander puts it, devastatingly, white people need authenticity like it was oxygen. But they most emphatically do not need authentic authenticity. They need staged authenticity, they need fake authenticity, they need three dollar bill auhenticity, they need superficial authenticity, they need cosmetic authenticity, they need lightweight authenticity, they need skin-deep authenticity. Skin-deep authenticity! There’s the ticket — time for another tattoo. And if that form of posturing weren’t enough, they sometimes opt for fake tattoos for their sunny time at the pool, the kind that wash off back home. White people are in a desperate hunt for the ultimate Form of Ironic Self-Referencing Authentic Platonic Hypocrisy. And, speaking for myself, I would have to say they’re getting close.
And evangelical white Christians are like their chubby junior high little sister in an unfortunate bikini, following her older sisters to the pool, for a little missional sunbathing.
If it weren’t so funny, it would be tragic.
I am reminded how when a person makes a big deal out of being “authentic”, five will get you ten he’s the biggest fake you ever met. And it’s time for me to be super-authentic by watching a couple of videos: “white White Baby” by Jim Carrey(?), and “White & Nerdy” by Weird Al. Or super-fake. You make the call.
“White and Nerdy” is one of the all-time greats.
My rims never spin; to the contrary,
you’ll find that they’re quite stationary
all of my action figures are cherry, Stephen Hawking’s in my library
I wanna bowl with..the gangstas!
“And evangelical white Christians are…….?” All of us?
I may have been placed on the earth as a slice of “Wonder bread” so to speak, but any crust and color I may have, I came by honestly, by being placed by circumstance, in the “toaster” under some authentic heat.
I have never tried to dip myself in chocolate syrup and attempt to pass myself off as pumpernickel! ???? (So to speak!)
Quite a rye sense of humor you’ve got…Don’t loaf around now, you’re on a roll…
With a helping of ham on rye.
Reusing the same term in a pun sub-thread is a violation, but you could plead temporary insanity due to your medical condition.
Very well, I will clutch at that straw. Due to significant dental illness, I was feeling down in the mouth. I know that if I am acquitted of this violation, it will be by the skin of my teeth.
Hmm, sounds like just lip service, let me chew on that for a moment. If it’s just tongue-in-cheek, I’ll let it pass. Otherwise, I can’t just brush it off — brace yourself to be drilled.
Sorry, I was away Saturday and Sunday, and now I am toast! ; – )
That was pretty crummy, no matter how you slice it. I’d say you’re not very well-bred. Half-baked I’d add (just to get a rise out of you).
Yeah, that last one might have been pita-ful.????
Good thing that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ????????
PornDeluxe.com doesn’t work :). “Unfortunate bikini” is gold. We have been summoned to renounce our Whiteness and embrace oikophobia as the one true path to coolness and social acceptability. Not until we demonstrate that we hate Redneckery can we be received as fully human. We must win approval from our betters. I think Bill Clinton sort of pulled it off, enough for his time anyway. I doubt it would work for him today.
Considering current events,
“Unfortunate pant suit”
would be a more apt metaphor!
You’ve been offline for a bit; glad you’re back. I had dental surgery this morning and I am not supposed to talk (or smoke) or 48 hours. Whatever will I do?
Well,…..stay away from pant suits in any cas!????
Hope you feel great soon!
I missed you too!
MOAR Cat Videos?
I think so, but I have expanded my viewing pleasure to include pandas and parrots. Did you know that boy pandas in captivity are so clueless about I initiating reproductive activity that they have to be shown videos? It is called Panda Porn. What a sad state of affairs. And I should probably go offline before the second Vicodin kicks in!
The Panda Porn is used on prety much all pandas I think, they are in danger of extinction because they refuse to mate.
And the lady panda is fertile for only two or three days a year. Just thinking about pandas wandering around those misty hills and gnawing on bamboo makes me happy, so I hope we never lose them.
Here’s some banjo music. Get well!
Thank you! I love banjo music!
This seems relevant in several ways: white people, banjo music, disturbing mix of genres. I hope you’re doing better and are up for it :) video.
“They need staged authenticity, they need fake authenticity, they need
three dollar bill auhenticity, they need superficial authenticity, they
need cosmetic authenticity…..”
They want their street credentials without ever having to go live on the streets. Street cred, it’s all about the street cred. Just ask Justin Bieber, he knows.
We’re all talking about “Sesame Street ‘cred”, right? ; – )
The ‘Biebs has an outsied chance on that one!
Just curious for your thoughts on why you think it is fine to create a hyperlink like porndeluxe.com. It’s obviously a fake site, but creates links to open up other unsafe links…
“…there are always lots of people who don’t want to be kept out of that kind of hypocrisy, and misdirection is that name of the game.” ; – )
Perhaps it was an authentication test to see who could be played and then wonder why? ; – )
I’m pretty sure Doug typed it as plain text and it’s the web browsers making the hyperlink.
I think someone spotted a business opportunity. Was it you?
Gosh Rob, your comment was like totally authentic!
Or at least as authentic as us white folks can be! ; – )
Reminds me of a joke. A guy stands out in a busy pedestrian area holding a sign that says “Free Hugs”. Another guy has a sign saying “Deluxe Hugs $5”.
Wait, what? Rob’s selling authentic stuff? Where can I buy it? Can I use an app to get it — I don’t want to go to any trouble.
The genuine article.
And this is why I have to laugh at all the “white nationalists” on the internets lately; it’s a concept that could only appeal to rootless Midwesterners, who haven’t noticed that the biggest sort of Stuff White People Like is making it clear that you’re not one of those white people (and in fact, you’d feel better if they were all dead). White Americans are the ancestral enemy of White Americans, which is why it’d help to adopt some more accurate terminology for these discussions.