In which a humble request is made

Yesterday I was reading through my Twitter feed and came across a Twitter conflict between Wil Wheaton and Adam Baldwin over a book promotion video. In the promo, Wil says the book is “funnier than the Bible” and “the Bible is supposed to make you afraid”. Baldwin claimed it mocked the Bible. I’m not sure it was that bad.. Now I have a lot of regard for Wil Wheaton (in fact my wife thinks I have a man crush), but we certainly don’t agree about Christianity. But I’d hang out with him in a minute to talk things geek and learn how to be half the writer he is.

But his words hurt a bit. Frankly, I was surprised by his words, as Wil’s motto is “Don’t be a dick.” He defines the concept more specifically as: “you can be kind and awesome, or you can be a petty and selfish dick. What do you choose? I do my best to be the former.” And I guess, if I was talking to Wil, I’d ask him to consider how his words about the Bible might impact his Christian fans. Is it a “kind and awesome” thing to do. Not really. If Wil were right here, I’d ask him to think if his statement resonates with the “Don’t Be a Dick” philosophy.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about something else. Last year around this (Easter) time, I began to see Zombie Jesus posts. The Zombie Jesus concept seems to be kind of a hit with my geekier friends on Facebook and Twitter. And I get it, it’s kind of funny. They don’t believe in Jesus and they aren’t Christians. I’m cool with that.

But, I am a Christian. Far from the best one and far from the stereotypical one your atheist friends warned you about. Just like not all geeks have poor social skills, bad complexions and live in their parent’s basement, not all Christians are picketing Planned Parenthood or beating their neighbors over the head with a Bible. We’re certainly not all Pat Robertson or the woman with pink hair on PTL. But we all believe in a few core things and Jesus rising from the dead to free us from our sins is a pretty big one. So when I see the mockery, it hurts a bit. Many geeks have experienced mockery and I can’t imagine any of us enjoyed it.

I really struggled with this last year and truthfully, I’m not looking forward to it this year. Now I know I’m going to see it Sunday and hey, that’s fine.  I’m not hugely offended. I’m not going to yell at you. I’m certainly not going to say you can’t say it. I guess all I’m asking is; before you post it, think about it. Know it’s going to hurt someone in your geek community just a bit. And I’d like to think that’s not what we geeks are all about.

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14 thoughts on “In which a humble request is made

  1. It would be a misstatement to call myself particularly religious, but I do find it troubling that in this age of heightened sensitivities and cultural awareness, when it is frowned upon to judge or make generalizations about a particular group of people because of their actions or beliefs; it is somehow not only acceptable, but fashionable, to taunt, ridicule and denigrate Christians.

    • Erik, I think there is some truth to that but some Christians are far too quick to take offense and the response on occasion outweighs the incident. See any discussion on the “War on Christmas.”

  2. Well thought out, Craig! Minor technical detail…The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) is behind Wil making the bible comment about her book. You should watch the clip, I think you can go back to worshiping Wil… (but just don’t WORSHIP, Wil…slippery slope).

  3. I agree with you on this, Craig. Even though I’m not a Christian (I’m a somewhat secular Jew–a long story that I can tell you in person), I sometimes have to caution other non-Christians/agnostic/atheist friends and acquaintances from making sweeping generalizations about Christians and Christianity. I do think, however, that it’s easy to make those generalizations these days when the strain of Christianity that is front and center is the evangelical, hard line variety. Whose fault it is that this sort of Christianity is front and center could certainly be debated. I wish it weren’t the case because I think it’s turned a lot of people off from Christianity when the religion has many positive things to offer. Jesus was a pretty groovy dude in many aspects (and I mean that seriously).

    • Thanks Jim. I can’t do it right now, but later I may port over a conversation from Facebook that resulted from someone sharing my post. It really boils down to 2 points. Point 1 – Christians are far from the only group that is unfairly persecuted. Point 2 – If we could all sit down (Atheists, Christians, Secular Jews, Republicans, Democrats, Gays, Straights, whatever) we’d come to realize that none of us should be represented by the worst examples of our particular group.

      That’s why I love the geek community so much. We come from all those groups and more. But our common love/obsession of things geek allows us to come together and experience each other as people, not subcultures and stereotypes. That can lead to understanding and mutual respect. It’s easy to hate a stereotype, it’s harder (though not impossible) to hate a person.

  4. From comments on my sharing of Craig’s post on my facebook:

    Frank Vella said:
    But when it comes down to it, this applies to most anything people mock. Mockery doesn’t always have malicious intent behind it, and christianity isn’t the only religion that gets this treatment, but it’s christians who are always the most vocal and sensitive. How often do wiccans and pagans find themselves subject to religious mockery — and even at the hands of christians? Those two sentences are so harmless compared to the ugly, horrible stuff said daily against and about homosexuals from the mouths of christians. And no, not all christians are homophobic, I do realize that. But i can count on my fingers and toes the number of titles I’ve seen any sort of organized, vocal response from tolerant christians against their brethren who spout hate. Usually, we in the gay community notice nothing but crickets when Pat Robertson or some other evangelical is making the case for encouraging discrimination and hate speech. And in those cases there’s not even an attempt to mask it in humor — it’s just hatred, pure and simple. So I guess what I’m saying is, be glad that the incidents of offense are limited to “zombie jesus” and wil wheaton cracking wise about the bible in order to sell a few more books. Considering the level of persecution some of us are exposed to daily (for things about ourselves that aren’t even a choice), this is peanuts.

    To which I (Teri) replied:
    So, because the level of persecution against non-Christians is higher, it makes it ok?
    Please don’t lump all evangelicals in with Pat Robertson. The reason why you don’t see us responding to nutballs like him is because we’re too busy actually following the teachings of Jesus Christ to lend any credence to the things he says.

    Then Frank answered:
    No, it doesn’t make it ok. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying there’s a difference between good-natured ribbing, where there’s no malicious intent to disparage, and direct, pointed bigotry. It’s OK to be offended as a christian by Wil Wheaton’s comments, but keep in mind that it’s not his intent to attack christianty through it. It’s just… insensitive. That’s not the same as some of the purposefully hateful, purposefully harmful, directed attacks that we gay people are subjected to on a daily basis. We’re told we’re less than American citizens, we’re accused of trying to indoctrinate children into an evil lifestyle, that we deserve to die of AIDS, that we should be beaten up or killed for who we are.

    It’s all well and good to distance yourselves from the extremists spreading hate in the name of your lord, but if you don’t show those people that their hateful ideals aren’t welcome, then you’re allowing them to continue abusing the reputation and name of your lord for their own purposes. There’s a tangible distrust of all christians amongst gays and it’s that silence from the tolerant christians that allows the distrust to perpetuate.

    Am I making sense here? It’s a very hard feeling to express, especially because I’ve never tried to put it into words.

    Craig chimed in:
    Frank, I hear what you’re saying and I don’t have a good answer for you. I really believe we have allowed our society to become incredibly uncivil to just about everyone. And some groups get hit much harder than others.

    I haven’t yet figured out how to push back against the incivility I see from the groups with which I associate myself (largely Christians and Republicans). I do try to speak to it where I can and push back at what I believe isn’t right. Unfortunately it’s a small scale thing because I’m just one guy.

    I wish there were more discussion. I think each off us have a tendency to sit in our groups (Atheists, Gays, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, whatever) and believe that the absolute worst of the other group represents reality. It doesn’t. That’s why I love being in the geek community too because I think our mutual love of things geek can overcome that mistrust and allow us to associate with eachother.

    If you go through my other blog posts I speak to that somewhat.

    Thanks for your heartfelt comments. I appreciate the dialogue. Can we do it in my blog comments next time though – I need the traffic 😉

    And lo, Frank spoke again:
    Haha! Sure we can do that. And you’re welcome to use my comments above as material for a follow-up post. 🙂

    And btw, I appreciate your response above. 🙂

    Then a discussion ensued about CoH and Skid Row. Sorta.

  5. Expecting your ideas to be held sacred by others simply because you believe them to be true is acenine. Just as one has a right to hold an idea as sacred, another has the right to hold it in contempt.

    • dirkstiletto, thanks for your reply. I’m not asking anyone to hold my ideas sacred. I would like to think that in a civil society we could work toward respecting the diversity of opinions and disagree with respect, not contempt. And no, I don’t think any segment of society is doing a great job of that today.

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