You know it's going to be an interesting day when you wake up to FB tags and messages about "something you would blog about."
My dear readers, you know me too well.
This photo is currently on Rick Warren's FB page and his Twitter feed. [EDIT: The photo has since been removed.] Apparently the image captures "the typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day." Hmmm. I didn't realize Saddleback was akin to the Red Army. Warren's defense (and that of his supporters) is one that I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING! It goes something like this:
- Don't you know this is a joke? This is funny. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
- I didn't mean to offend you. BUT…Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
- Why are you attacking "fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person's name here"? Don't you know how many people said person's ministry and life's work has touched and brought to faith? Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
- If you are a Christian, show "fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person's name here" some grace. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
- Don't be so politically-correct. Be a Christian first. Don't make this about race. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
But what would've happened had he used this image? Would have his supporters still supported him? Because use of this image would be just as offensive to me as the other one. It's not funny. It's not about me getting over myself. It's not about Christians being funny. One thing it is about is White evangelicalism (re)writing the narrative of our faith and our story. The story continues to tell people like me to get over it, to lighten up, to get a sense of humor, to put my faith above my ethnicity and gender. The story continues to tell me that the amount of grace someone deserves is equal to the number of people they have "helped." The story continues to tell me that people like me have no place in the culture making of Christianity because directly and indirectly we are not welcome as my dear friend Grace Biskie wrote about her experience at a recent conference.
Dear Pastor Rick Warren,
I have not helped thousands come to know Jesus. I don't know that for a fact, but I do know that I don't have the kind of platform you do, the kind of following you do, the number of eyes watching and listening to you. But that shouldn't stop us from listening to one another and learning from one another.
The image of the Red Army soldier is offensive. It isn't funny. And it does have racial implications. I know you are a thoughtful leader, so why not choose an equally funny/not funny image of Hitler Youth who look just as cheerful, focused and determined (and perhaps, dare I say, more like your staff?) Because it was easy to use the Red Army image? Because you didn't think it was a big deal to connect your Christian staff with the Chinese Red Army? Because you have someone of Chinese descent on your staff and he/she didn't think it was a big deal?
Please reconsider your comments that essentially told many of your brothers and sisters in Christ to get over it, to get a sense of humor, to lighten up, etc. Please take a moment to hear us out because you don't get to tell me to laugh about the Communist Red Army because it isn't funny. There is no irony. Do not compare me and others to the self-righteous who did not get Jesus' humor as you did in your FB defense.
Please help me understand how this furthers the kingdom of God because right now it feels like the most important thing is to "get you."
This post was originally published at More Than Serving Tea.