(Yesterday, the server at Stuff Christians Like just quit. Monday’s post about the new book I wrote was the largest traffic day in SCL’s 2 year history and the server cried like an NFL player dumped by a Kardashian. We’re upgrading the server as we speak and posting a comment takes about 7 seconds to load right now but it should work. In the meantime, below is the post we didn’t get to see. And if it ever happens again, you can get updates by following me on Twitter.)
Last night on Twitter, I felt like the Stuff Christians Like bat signal lit up.
Out of nowhere, about 10 different people linked me to a new site and essentially said, Prodigaljohn has to talk about this. When I went to the site, I realized that other bloggers had already talked about it. Months ago.
So on second thought, it wasn’t like the bat signal was lit. It was more like the Nightwing signal was lit, the superhero Robin became after he broke up with Batman. (Why didn’t I date much in high school? Girls like comic book knowledge right? Ladies?)
The site my friends linked me to was billed as offering a Christian version of Twitter. Being somewhat of an expert on Christians taking popular secular ideas and putting a God spin on them, four thoughts instantly jumped into my head:
1. Don’t do a Christian alternative of a medium.
Doing a different, holy version of Twitter is like creating a Christian version of the telephone. Twitter and facebook are mediums. They’re technologies used for communication. If the communication is about Christianity, then they’re being used as a Christian medium. If the communication is about goat herding in Pineapple, Alabama, then they’re being used as a goat herding medium. Twitter is not inherently evil or inherently Christian. Mediums are often like mannequins, the clothes you put on them define them. (It feels almost impossible not to make a Mannequin movie joke right here.)
2. Don’t do a Christian alternative to an empty box.
Twitter is a pull medium not a push medium. If I want you to read my tweets and you don’t want to, I can’t do anything about that if you refuse to follow me. The only way to see my content is to follow me or pull what I write toward you. So I could never say, “I’m so sick of all the filth in my twitter stream,” because if there’s filth, it means I decided to follow those people. You are your own Twitter Editor. If you’ve got a problem on Twitter, write an angry letter to the Editor, who is you. (That sentence read like it was written by artist MC Escher)
3. The public announcement of an unfollow is the biggest jerk move on Twitter.
That doesn’t even have anything to do with this article, but I wanted to make sure we’re all clear about that. It’s like putting a break up notice in the engagement/wedding section of the newspaper to let everyone know you dumped someone. Don’t be that guy.
4. Don’t do a Christian alternative that can’t be better than the original.
Someone sent me a link once to a Christian version of Google. I like that concept. As a dad with young daughters, the Internet can be a pretty scary place. I’ve also personally used and loved services like Safe Eyes that filter the Internet. I dig that idea, but there’s no way a Christian Google can work better and smarter than Google. Be careful about creating a Christian version that offers a lot less functionality than the original. I feel good about putting a filter on my computer, tweaking my settings on Google and knowing that a team of 300 of the best engineers and programmers are hammering away at making Google great each day. I don’t mean this in regards to the Christian Google, but in general, I’m not sure that when we create cheap, broken knockoffs of originals, we shine a lot of glory onto the creator.
I do have a hope for any Christian that decides to do an alternative version of something. I hope it grows into something wild and big and fun. I created Stuff Christians Like because I wanted to talk specifically about our penchant for putting God flavor on popular secular ideas and then making them our own. It’s the first post on this site, a blog that clearly rips off the original Stuff White People Like blog. I didn’t think there would be a book down the road. I didn’t think we’d build two kindergartens in Vietnam or raise over $30,000 for mosquito nets in Uganda. This Christian Alternative grew into something different than I anticipated. And that’s my hope for the Christian Twitter and other projects that might be in the works right now.
What do you think?
Do we need Christian alternatives to things?