Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

Full disclosure: I pre-ordered Stuff Christians Like on Amazon in order to be entered in a drawing for an iPad. Well, the iPad was about 3 days old and that point, and still looked very sexy. Would I have bought the book anyway? Maybe. I do follow Acuff's Stuff Christian's Like blog, ever since I came across a post about how you can make your tweets 14% holier by mentioning a Christian writer, and that C.S. Lewis was the most useful as his name takes up the fewest characters.

That's a taste of what you'll get in this book, which is a 204-page adaptation of the blog's most popular posts. Acuff has a keen eye for the way the faithful behave in and out of church, and each little segment targets a different issue such as raising your hands in worship or that race to see who can get to the Bible verse quickest when the pastor says "Please turn to..."

By "church", we are talking about the modern American evangelical kind of church. In fact, I keep getting a nasty feeling that Acuff goes to my church, and will still be looking over my shoulder on Sunday even though I've checked on his geographical location. I will definitely be checking on who's rocking the Ninja worship position, who prefers the double high five, and trying to guess the exact keyword that triggers that soft guitar music during prayer. And I will never use the word "just" when praying, ever ever again.

There's some serious stuff in there too, and I did go "ouch" a few times because, let's face it, we all talk the talk while simultaneously trying to get out of the full implications of walking the walk. Quite a few of those little hypocrisies are laid bare in Stuff Christians Like--claiming, for example, that you're only watching Family Guy because you need to be culturally relevant, saying "I'll pray for you" to someone when you fully intend to forget all about their issues five minutes from now, or making sure everyone knows you've been on a mission trip or two by ostentatiously displaying African masks in your home or wearing those really cool Indian suits to church (I totally want to do a mission trip to India to get me one of those.)

It's an insider book, really; I don't see it appealing much to a non-Christian because the point is that we're laughing at ourselves for being human jerks, and at the same time forgiving ourselves because, hey, we're all the same, and what's more the Bible is full of humans being complete idiots. Jon Acuff is the kid who told everyone that the Emperor had no clothes on, and I hope he'll keep doing it and not become too conceited about the adulation from his blog's many fans. Razzle dazzle, Jon.

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