52 in 52 Week 18: Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

I have to admit that this is a seemingly frivolous book to read after The Diary of Anne Frank last week.

This is a poke of fun at American cultural Christianity and more specifically, evangelical churchianity. It is irreverent at times, but I walked and worked around the house and laughed out loud.  It is all satire (except the last section where he put his "serious Wednesday" essays), and pokes fun at a Christianity that I left long ago (not the faith but the culture), but it was OK for a lighthearted comedy for this very serious woman (well, most people that meet me don't know I am so serious because I do like to laugh a lot, but if they just know me from my writing, they think I am pretty serious which I really am more serious than silly, but I digress. . . ).

It is supposed to be a take off on the book What White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions (even down to the number of pages of the book).  The authors says that this is the book that inspired him.

Many of his essays resonated, especially the ones about the mega church versus the small church, and I plan on playing those two essays for our kingdom community. Others were frivolous and boarding on pretty stupid where I wondered why I was wasting my time listening, but they were funny, and I was entertained, and that is not so bad.

I was not raised a pastor's kid like the author, nor was I raised in the church (especially a Southern Baptist one, but my dear husband WAS). In this way, I can't relate with someone who was raised in the center of cultural evangelicalism. He has a lot to say, sad as it is, about the state of mediocrity of the American church. I think it would really hit home if you were always raised in it or had bought into the superficiality that he pokes fun at.

I have always been an outsider looking in. So, his essay on "making out with girls your first time at youth camp" was humorous but all too painfully true. Yes, it even happened back in 1973 when I, as an outsider from a "non-churched" home, was invited on a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park. The weekend was so significant (I almost died the next day), but the night before almost perishing, I got stuck in a cave with a "church regular" who thought he could make out with me!  Even as a 13 year old, I could see the superficiality of such a move and ran for my life (He quickly found solace in the arms of another girl who is now gay). I returned to the camp to find myself the only youth among all the adult leaders because all the kids must have been out in caves making out (or at least I perceived it that way and gathered that many had partaken from the chatter in the bus on the way home). It was a lonely evening and weekend for me, and my disillusionment with cultural Christianity began. I was on a desperate quest to know God and find real meaning in life, and the "church kids" were too busy hooking up and passing notes while I hungrily listened during church. 

Thirteen years later, I found it was almost expected for youth to behave this way. Due to one of the camp counselors being bitten by a bat and having to be flown out for rabies shots, I was given one hours notice to spend a week with a group of girls from Kentridge High School in Kent, Washinton at the Young Life Malibu Club in Canada in the summer of 1986.  

I shouldn't have been surprised I was asked to be a camp counselor because just an hour before, I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to see what goes on during the whole camp. (I was three miles away in a mountaineering camp, but I would see portions of the program when I cam into Malibu to pack the food for the mountain trips.)

The week was very fun, but one things really BUGGED me: camp romances were expected, bordering on encouraged by the following song sung to the kids by the adults who ran the camp: 

On the boat to Malibu

I was making eyes at you

Honey, won't you love me for a week.
NO JOKE! And it happens, by the end of the week, many of the teens had paired off and were making out in the bushes!

Thankfully, I had a group of modest girls who were hungry to know God like I was at their age, and only one out of ten girls became entangled in a "Malibu Affair," and the other nine encountered Christ in a real and significant way. 

There were many other things that hit me and liked about the book, but you have to remember that it is SATIRE. He is not being serious. 

I think I wouldn't mind meeting Jonathan Acuff, grandson of Roy Acuff, one of the greats of the early Grand Ole Oprey:

Roy Acuff ( far right) points to a board
announcing the expansion of the Opry’s
Prince Albert Show network broadcast on NBC.

I also wouldn't mind meeting Jon because he is pretty humble and self-effacing, and I loved his interaction with the Somali refugee woman who cut his hair (that made me get off the fence about the book. I liked what he had to say from there on out). His humility comes out with his story about wanting fame and the "meet and greet" with is adoring following. (Have to read it to find out why it was necessary for him to write a quiz for the event).

I also want to meet him to tell him that I actually got through the acknowledgments and the funny song at the end that he thought no one would listen to (what can I say, I think he is funny, plus my hands were covered in cranberry creme scone dough so I couldn't turn off the iPod when he got to the end). I also want to introduce him to some very radical believers I know in Atlanta. :)

I got Acuff's book as a free audiobook download, but I cannot remember how or where or even why. It has been sitting on my iPod for about two years waiting to be listened to, and I was between classics.  It was a nice change, and  I am sure people wondered what that tall woman was listening to as she walked and guffawed loudly. 

It is very humorous, but I believe after watching the profile below that there is a method to Acuff's madness. I know now that Jon is using satire to try to change the superficiality of the American church. You might really like his short bio:

After watching this and seeing the other videos by him, it just dawned on me that I had watched Jon when he did the Christmas Charity giving thing on the Dave Ramsey website! I KNEW his voice sounded familiar, and I couldn't place it. That made me laugh too. I thought, "Who is this goofball?"  Little did I know he was waiting to be listened to on my iPod.

You are funny, Jon so . . . 

Go, Jon, Go. I get you. I really do. 

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