"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story." Chimimanda Adichie
I'm scared out of my mind to say that I'm a Christian, or to talk about Christianity.
In one of my earlier blog posts, tried to talk about this, but I skated around the issue and explained everything very poorly. I didn't say what I was thinking because I was scared.
Mostly everywhere I go on the media and everyone I hear from that's not Christian has Christians as the enemy. As bigoted, controlling, hypocritical, stupid, foolish, backwards, crazy, hateful, pushy, uncaring, oblivious to the real world, ignorant… look at Sheldon's mom in The Big Bang Theory for the harmless version of the stereotype and US politics for the more destructive.
When I read or listen to conversations on the subject of feminism, slavery, the LGBTQ community, or various other topics, Christianity is portrayed as the oppressor, the killer of freedom, and the instigator of harm and fear. Christians are the scum of the earth, the cause of slavery, racism, and sexism; they are the close-minded and small-minded, holier-than-thou and bible thumpers. They are the WASPs and all the negativity that comes with them.
Even if the wording isn't as strong as that, repetition has this funny way of making even the weakest words take on greater meaning and significance.
"But those are just stereotypes; it's just the media. You know how the media is, Thea. They make everything more terrible than it really is. You should just let it go."
Tell that to someone battling sexism. Or racism. Or any kind of injustice perpetrated by the media. They're not "just stereotypes". They are a representation of the cultures' values.
I remember bringing a Bible to school in grade four. My teacher told me to put it in my backpack, not because she was trying to suppress Christianity. She was a Christian. She said it was so that I wouldn't lose it, but I could tell that she wasn't telling me everything. There was some thing she was scared about; she was scared about what people might think or do if they saw that I had a Bible with me.
That's something that's really hard to ignore.
The only time I was in a secular, public school was from kindergarten to grade four. Until university, media and the internet were my only ways of finding out about how people view Christians. That and the clues I could pick up from how other people I knew acted and what they said in relation to Christians and Christianity while we were in a setting that wasn't completely Christian (like what happened in grade four).
Then I started going to university.
My gosh, if I hear one more instance of someone using Galileo as an example of the Christian position towards science, I might scream. Except I won't. Because it won't stop happening. And it's the only example I ever hear. Seriously, without fail, any time that religion and science are mentioned together, Galileo comes up and Christianity gets displayed as anti-science and anti-intellectualism. I am getting heartily sick of Galileo.
A guest lecturer once talked about the evolutionary development of the human eye, then proceeded to completely misunderstand a Creationist argument, then twist it into a straw man argument, mocking Christians with a condescending smile. I don't get angry easily, but I was so angry at that that a friend of mine who was sitting a row back could feel the emotion emanating off of me in waves.
In one philosophy class, if anyone mentioned God as part of the equation to a possible way of looking at things, my prof would always have the last word, taking God completely out of the picture. And she would do with a smile and a little tilt of the head as if to say "Don't you see how much more rational and intelligent my argument is than yours? Of course you do."
Add on top of that what some friends who are atheists have said about Christians ("Oh, but you're the exception, Thea") or snatches of conversation I've heard while walking through the hallways where Christians are derided, mocked, made fun of, portrayed as laughingstocks or repressors.
So, I'm scared to make it known that I believe in God, that I follow Jesus, and that the Bible is my scripture. I fear what people might do to me; what people might think of me.
When I see Christians vilified without compassion and then congratulated for it, all I can think is "If you prick us, do we not bleed?", and when I see it over and over and over, all that comes to my mind is Chimimanda Adichie and the danger of a single story.
Let me make this clear: I am not a victim. I will not come from the point of view of being a victim, because then I will always be harming myself even as I try to gain healing.
Let me also make this clear: The scariest thing on the internet isn't saying that you're a Christian.
The scariest thing on the internet is revealing to the world something about yourself that they might despise you for.