They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our … What?

I was reading a Los Angeles Times interview with comedian Amy Schumer. She talked about a Twitter to-do from some weeks back, when fellow comedian Leslie Jones—one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie—was temporarily pushed off the service after being inundated with hateful, often racist tweets.

“It was just so much hate at once,” Schumer said, “And you feel like it’s never-ending and it is the truth. She was not used to it. I’ve had 10 years of people sending a lot of vitriol and it’s been spread out. For her, it hit like a ton of bricks.”

She talked a little bit more about the nature of the Internet, and how celebrities especially have to learn how to deal with it quickly. “It feels like your new reality, like your biggest fear has come true,” she says. “And then once they’ve come true, you have nothing to be scared of.”

And then, Schumer added something that really struck me:

There’s always going to be a pocket of aggressive crazies. … It’s always a guy, whose avatar is the American flag or them with their kids on their shoulders, and they’ll write, “Die, you fat …” But then their description of themselves is “Father. Christian. Spreading the word.”

On one level, Schumer’s comments feel unfair, though not necessarily unexpected. Schumer uses her comedy, after all, to push her brand of social activism and justice. Her fans are not, typically, flag-waving conservatives. And even as she’s one of the culture’s strongest voices against stereotyping women, her own comments themselves smacked of stereotype. “It’s always a guy,” she says. A man with an affinity for flags. A Christian. At first blush, it might feel as though Schumer has thrown Christian America into a box of her own making. We aren’t people: We’re a type of people, easy to dismiss as “crazies.” Broad categories of people are always so much easier to pigeonhole than individual folks. It irks me to see how Christianity is often painted by Hollywood and the culture.

But lookie there: Just one sentence ago, I became guilty of the very same thing.

We run the risk all the time at Plugged In, painting “Hollywood” and “the culture” with a broad, dark brush, not taking the time to really grapple with the individual diversity within that culture. We try to stay clear of that trap, but we don’t always do so. It’s tempting to lump celebrities into tropes and stereotypes, too. It’s easier.

And that’s when Schumer’s final thoughts hit home. Father. Christian. Spreading the word. It’s true: Sometimes we don’t act as we should. As the culture still believes we should.

In her comment, Schumer is pointing out a felt contradiction: Christians should be loving, she believes. And yet, very often, they’re not. Christianity should be a positive. But the way some Christians behave in public spaces like Twitter seem to create a jarring disconnect.

I’ve seen that dynamic at play right here in the blog (though thankfully it’s been pretty rare). I’ve seen it play out on Facebook and Twitter. I bet you have, too.

It’s impossible, of course, to make Christians behave online as I might like them to. We are, after all, a diverse community—as diverse and as glorious and, sometimes, as crazy as America itself. But I think that Schumer’s statement is a good reminder for us.

We are all called, on some level, to be evangelists. We are all tasked, in some way, to serve as God’s hands and feet in this strange, fallen world of ours. We need to be light and salt in a broken culture. We should try to be that light online, too.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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